Katie Bend tries the food at student favourite Wagamama with mixed results.
Where? Wagamamas, 64 Queens Road, Clifton
When? Tuesday 7.20pm
Ordered: Chilli Squid, Chicken Teriyaki Donburi, Coconut Reika
Good For: Fast comfort food, free green tea
Bad For: Too much, too ‘samey’, feeling like I’m being shuttled in and out
When entering Wagamama on Tuesday evening, I knew what to expect. A bustling, ‘one-in-one-out’ Japanese inspired noodle bar with quick service, cramped benches, and a familiar menu.
For as long as I can remember, Wagamama has always maintained a solid reputation as being a ‘trendy’ eatery, where you are served by young, fashion conscious waiters and waitresses who frantically scribble on your paper place mat strange numbers, which I would get fed up learning as soon as I got to 5.
In recent years, prices have gone up, and although not as expensive as other eating destinations in the Clifton area, I feel that good ol’ Wag’s has lost their value for money rep which had made them the perfect place to pop in for an exotic dish.
After walking through the door I am quickly shuffled onto a bench without so much as a hello. A menu is pushed into my hand and after saying that I’ve been there before I am left.
But it’s not just the prices and the impersonal ‘cattle market’ greeting and seating; on sitting down I am always confronted with the problem that there is just too much, too similar on the menu.
I fear a MamaVirgin would be overwhelmed; being handed an A3 piece of card with endless lists of unpronounceable mumble jumbo which all sounds the same, bar some extra tofu here and odon noodle there.
Many WagaLovers who I know all have one thing in common – they order the same dish, every time they go. Until Tuesday, I too fell guilty to this trait, but I decided to divert from my usual, fairly bland and boring Chicken Ramen and indulge in a Teriyaki Chicken with sticky rice.
Was it worth it? No.
I received half a chicken breast which was dry and tasteless, and the ‘sticky rice’ was no more than bog-standard rice dumped into a deep bowl. The sauce was over powering and far too salty – a problem I find too often with so many of their dishes.
On a brighter note, the Chilli Squid was pleasant, in fact, the dressing was probably the best part of the whole meal.
As expected it arrived fairly speedily and one plate was enough to share with my friend, although her main arrived five minutes before the starter, however we were ‘warned’ of this beforehand.
Empty plates were taken away before we all had finished, and although the place was far from full, the noise from the kitchen, staff and other customers made it difficult to maintain a decent conversation.
My advice? Don’t go there with your parents. Instead go when you are hung over and in need of a fast and large dosage of some sort of ‘carbs in sauce’ and are not in the mood to speak to anyone.
I understand a lot of Katsu Curry fans are not going to be happy! But #imjustsayin’.