We tested out the Wagamama study benches to see what the deal is

PSA: You can get discounted chicken katsu

Last week I was mindlessly scrolling on Instagram when I saw an advert for Wagamama’s so-called study benches. Naturally I had to investigate, and as it turns out Wagamama has just launched its very own student society called the Noodle Union, as well as creating study spaces in 30 of its restaurants for students to work in and socialise.

From now until 30th March, students can head to participating Wagamama restaurants on Mondays to Wednesdays between 3pm and 5pm to get work done in designated study areas, as well as have the option to order from a “bespoke menu at an exclusive price”.

As someone who’s always on the lookout for vibey places to study in Edinburgh, the combination of discounted Wagamama and a chill place to get some work done sounded like a dream come true.

Seeing as the Wagamama in St Andrews Square is a participating restaurant in the scheme, we headed down on Monday afternoon to see what the deal was with the study benches, and whether the student menu was something to get excited about.

So with all that in mind, here’s how our Wagamama study experience went:

The ‘study benches’

So, as it turns out there aren’t actually specially designated study benches. Instead, you can sit anywhere in the restaurant and hope you’re near a plug.

For me, Wagamama in general isn’t really the right vibe for studying as it has a bustling energy to it, and the lighting and music has the opposite of a calming effect.

Something else that quickly came apparent is that there isn’t much space on the table when your whole group has drinks, food, laptops and books all out, so definitely be prepared to quickly pack things away when your mains arrive.

Overall, these two things combined made me feel slightly harassed the whole time we were there, as I couldn’t get into the study zone and felt really cramped.

No space for a laptop AND noodles

The menu

The “bespoke menu at an exclusive price” is actually a set menu, where you get a starter, main and drink for £18.50.

The options given on the set menu are all Wagamama classics such as gyozas, katsu curry and pad thai, as well as a soft drink such as coke or lemonade.

I ordered chicken gyozas, the chicken and prawn pad thai, and a coke zero. If I had ordered off the main menu, the total cost would’ve been £20.95, which means I saved £2.45 by ordering off the student menu.

However, this is still a lot of money to spend during a study session and the discount wasn’t huge tbh.

Personally, I think it would be more appealing if the student menu wasn’t a set menu, especially as you can only order from it between 3pm and 5pm, meaning most people would have already had their lunch before arriving.

The student set menu on offer

Final thoughts

As a concept it had so much potential, however I was kinda disappointed by the whole thing.

At almost £20 a visit, it’s unlikely that any student would head to the study benches on a regular basis. Also, you’d have to mess up your meal times if you wanted to order from the student menu, as the hours you can order from it fall right between lunch and dinner.

I also don’t particularly want to eat a full two-course meal whilst I study, and instead would’ve preferred the menu to have smaller plates that you could snack on as you worked.

On top of that, the overall ambience is not made for studying. We all love a trip to Wagamama, but it’s honestly just not a good spot to get some uni work done.

All that being said, if you’re just wanting a slightly discounted meal out and don’t really care about the studying aspect, consider this a Wagamama life hack. Whilst a £2.45 saving isn’t huge by any means, it’s still something.

Also, if you do prefer a bit of background noise when you work or are looking to get together with a group for a one-off treat, then I’d definitely consider trying the Wagamama study benches.

But for me, it turns out the idea of a Wagamama study space actually is too good to be true. Sadly, I guess it’s back to the library with a £3.50 Tesco meal deal (another recent disappointment) for the foreseeable future. Oh well.

Recommended related articles by this writer:

A guide to the best Edi coffee shops to study in

The Edinburgh Tab’s guide to LGBTQ+-owned Edinburgh businesses

I ate Too Good To Go for a week and here’s what I found out