Time to go back and visit Wagamama

The last place we went out to eat before the lockdown in March 2020 was Wagamama at Cribbs Causeway.

We had thought that places might close or be restricted, so took a final opportunity to go out and eat.

Though we have eaten out since that visit, wanting to go out and eat for Father’s Day my children decided that we would go to Wagamama. The fact that we couldn’t book a table didn’t seem to deter them…

We drove up to the Mall, and like on our recent visit a few days earlier the M5 was rather busy.

However we did mange to get their okay. We had decided to eat at 2pm, so we could miss the lunchtime rush. Despite that when we got into the Mall there was quite a long queue for Wagamama. Though I prefer not to queue, this time I knew there were very few alternatives around and my children had their heart set on going there, so we decided to wait. The queue actually moved quite fast and we took the time while we were waiting to peruse the menu.

I was really torn about what I was going to have. I did think about having the cod mokutan soba which I had back in 2019 and despite the initial dish being burnt the returned dish was much better. Interestingly back then I said

It was the kind of dish I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t have it again on another visit.

I did quite like the idea of having it again this time, shows what do I know about what I like!

Another dish which caught my eye was the grilled duck donburi. 

tender, shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce. mixed with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice and topped with a crispy fried egg, cucumber and spring onions. served with a side of kimchee

Or the teriyaki sirloin steak soba.

grilled sirloin steak with soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce. garnished with coriander and sesame seeds

In the end after much consideration and flip flopping I went with the  shirodashi ramen

slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

The rest of the family went with their choices, yaki soba, chicken raisukaree, gluten free chicken ramen and chicken and rice noodles.

As is typical at Wagamama for me, everyone else’s dish arrived well before mine, and I was waiting for while for my food. The others trying to be polite wanted to wait, but I didn’t want their food to go cold. Anyhow I can eat quite fast, so was okay with them eating.

This serving as food as soon as it is ready, does mean that you get your food fresh, reality is that unless you don’t mind eating your dish whilst others have none, it strikes me more as lazy planning than “serving food as soon as it’s ready”.

Finally my food arrived and though not quite as good as the pictures on the website it did look nice.

shirodashi ramen  slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

I had anticipated the slow cooked pork belly to be tender and soft, but actually was crispy, which I wasn’t expecting.

I did enjoy the ramen and it was very tasty and delicious.

I did think about having a beer with my ramen, but in the end went with a  jasmine flowering tea – flowering lily and jasmine green tea.

asmine flowering tea - flowering lily and jasmine green tea

It looked great and tasted nice, it reminded me of the flowering tea I had at Tea Monkey in Bath back in 2012.

I wasn’t going to have desert, but was persuaded to by everyone at the table, and it was Father’s Day. Though I did think about cheesecake, I went with the smoked chocolate caramel cake.

For some reason I wasn’t expecting to get a slice of cake! But I did, the cake was layers of smoked chocolate mousse, salted caramel crushed biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie and chocolate ganache, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

smoked chocolate caramel cake

Not as rich as it sounds and the ice cream added freshness and balance.

Overall we all enjoyed the meal, and the service was excellent.

Nice to be back.

I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for…

Sometimes having too much choice can be a bad thing. I was up in Sheffield for an event and aiming for a quick meal I popped to the dining quarter of Meadowhall within there are a range of eating options.

The lower level is mainly fast food chains, but I was intrigued by Yangtze, a Chinese takeaway, but the queue was quite long and I really fancied taking my time being waited upon. On the upper level I did like the idea of the Spanish Tapas place, but felt it was quite expensive for what was on offer. There was also Las Iguanas which I don’t think I’ve been to, but looked tempting.

In the end I decided to go with Wagamama. I wanted to try out the Tama Squid, crispy fried squid balls, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. finished with aonori and bonito flakes. I thought to myself I wouldn’t also mind trying Wagamama’s hirata steam buns to see if they are as good as the ones from She Sells Sushi. For the main course I thought Yakisoba would be a good choice.

As I queued for Wagamama, which seemed to be taking a long time, I thought about it, well of the three dishes I wanted, I could get the same three , well three similar, dishes at YO! Sushi as part of their blue plate Monday offer. So reflecting, I turned away and headed off to YO! Sushi.

As I arrived I could see how busy YO! Sushi was, but was given a warm welcome and they found me a seat very quickly (which was simplified because I was on my own).

The thing about YO! Sushi is you can look at the menu or just take things from the conveyor belt.

While I perused the menu I took a plate of avocado maki.

I then ordered some hot dishes, which took a little time to arrive, but I was expecting that so didn’t mind.

The maki were nice and fresh and was a great start to my meal.

Whilst the ordered dishes arrived I took another dish from the belt, the Beef Tataki Sashimi, which is pepper-seared rare beef and a tangy coriander pesto.

Beef Tataki Sashimi

I’ve wanted to try this dish for a while and it matched my expectations. The beef was nice and tender and I did like the tangy coriander pesto which enhanced both the beef and the grated mooli on the dish.

The next dish was the Vegetable Yakisoba, described as yakisoba noodles in a tangy sauce served with crunchy, fresh vegetables.

Vegetable Yakisoba

I wasn’t impressed with this dish, the tangy sauce wasn’t to my taste and I didn’t like the texture of the noodles so much. I think I should have gone with a rice dish instead. I did wonder if the Wagamama version would be better?

I really like the Spicy Pepper Squid from YO! Sushi.

Spicy Pepper Squid

The spicy marinated squid, fried until crisp was garnished with red chilli and spring onions. I really like the texture and taste of this dish and it did not fail to impress.

When I was placing my order, the server recommended the Cod Nanbanzuke, which though not on the blue plate menu was part of the blue plate deal. The menu describes it as “Japan’s answer to sweet and sour! Crispy fried cod bites in a sweet and sour sauce.”

Cod Nanbanzuke

Though I did think it could have been a little more crispier than it was, I really did enjoy this dish. The cod was tasty and the sweet and sour sauce didn’t overpower the taste of the fish. This was quite a big portion as well.

A little later the final of my four hot dishes I had ordered arrived, a portion of Takoyaki.

Takoyaki

The menu says that this is Osaka’s number one street food! Lightly battered dough balls with octopus, topped with mayo, bonito and lots more.

I thought this was a really nice concept, but wasn’t too hot on the execution of it. It was too much dough and to little octopus.

My final dish was fish. Salmon Sashimi Our freshest cuts of thick-sliced Scottish salmon, with mooli and lemon.

I hadn’t planned to take this dish, but seeing the chef preparing them and thought if there’s any left on the conveyor belt then I will have one. It was a nice clean refreshing dish to finish the meal off with.

Overall I had a really nice meal and the blue plate offer made a difference to the value for money.




Time for teriyaki lamb

I do enjoy my visits to Wagamama, though I haven’t been for a while. The Cribbs Causeway branch of Wagamama doesn’t have the most welcoming environment, it feels like it is perched on a Mezzanine and certainly doesn’t have that warm cosy feeling that a more traditional Wagamama has. Having said that the staff were welcoming and we had excellent service.

I went with the grilled teriyaki lamb with mushrooms, asparagus, kale and mangetout served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea, herb and wasabi dressing.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The teriyaki lamb was one of the specials and was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu. My food arrived last (and later than expected) compared to the rest of the table. The policy of Wagamama is that the food arrives when it is ready and not necessarily all together. I don’t see this as too much of a problem if this was a tapas or mezze, or even a oriental buffet. It feels slightly wrong though when you are a family eating out and the food you’ve ordered arrives at different times you’re not sure if you should wait (and your food goes cold) or start and sit around as you wait for others to finish!

Once my lamb had arrived it looked great, it tasted great too. The lamb was tender and quite spicy. I liked the noodles and the dressing. It was quite salty though.

Airport Sushi

Wanting more than just a snack, but not wanting a huge plate of food, on a recent fleeting visit to Edinburgh Airport, I decided to take a seat at Yo! Sushi.

One of the disadvantages of this branch of Yo! Sushi is the limited menu compared to a typical branch on the high street or in the shopping mall. However once you’ve gone through security, not much you can do about that. In many ways though, Yo! Sushi is perfect airport food, no need to wait for the food, eat as much or as little as you want and paying the bill was quick and easy.

I went with three dishes, chicken teriyaki, a vegetable noodle dish, yakisoba, and later went with a mixed salmon dish. I had to order the noodles and chicken as hot dishes.

I’ve had chicken teriyaki before, and this version was similar, but certainly not the same dish. Previously when I’ve had this dish, the chicken was griddled and then covered with teriyaki sauce.

Chicken Teriyaki Grilled chicken in a sweet, sticky soy based sauce.

Here at the airport, the chicken was taken from a hot plate and covered in sauce. It was very nice though, and was full of flavour.

Similarly the noodle dish, pan fried Japanese noodles in a mildly spiced tangy sauce with vegetables, was from the hot plate, but again was tasty, full of flavour.

Vegetable Yakisoba Pan fried Japanese noodles in a mildly spiced tangy sauce with vegetables.

The vegetables were crisp and the noodles were certainly not sticky. I liked this dish, and added the remains of the teriyaki sauce towards the end of the dish.

Having finished those two dishes off, I still felt hungry, so took from the conveyor a mixed dish of salmon, comprising three slices of premium Scottish salmon sashimi, two salmon nigiri and two salmon maki.

Salmon Selection Three slices of premium Scottish salmon sashimi, two salmon nigiri and two salmon maki.

This was delicious, the salmon was fresh and full of flavour and I really enjoyed it.

Overall I really enjoyed my quick meal and I thought (for an airport) it was pretty good value for money.

Crayfish & Salmon Salad

The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness.

For my starter I had what the menu described as the Crayfish tail, smoked salmon and vegetable egg noodle salad with an oriental dressing and roasted sesame seeds.

Now though I think the sesame seeds were missing, it was an interesting combination of oriental and Scottish, the noodles with smoked salmon. The salmon was great, the crayfish tails were okay though the noodle salad was somewhat bland, even with the oriental dressing.

Overall it was nice starter, refreshing and some nice ingredients, but I think it could have been better, though I don’t think that the missing sesame seeds would have been the solution.

Scallops with Noodles

Scallops with Noodles

One thing I like about cooking oriental (inspired) food is the speed. This dish took about ten minutes from getting into the kitchen to putting food on the table.

Now I did cheat a little by using a pack of prepared stir fry vegetables, you can (as I usually do) prepare the veg yourself.

Once in the kitchen I put some water onto boil for the noodles, that take two minutes to cook.

I got the scallops and cut them in half through the middle to “double” the number of scallops. This is a trick I picked up from Gordon Ramsay on making scallops go further.

I heated a large frying pan and added a splash of sunflower oil. I let the oil heat through I then added a dash of Chinese Five Spice before adding the prepared stir fry veg.

In another pan I cooked the scallops. They don’t take long and you don’t want to overcook them.

Once the vegetables are nearly cooked, in other words still crunchy I added the noodles and some oyster sauce.

I then placed the noodles and vegetables on a plate and topped with the pan fried scallops.

For a variation I would have added some cashew nuts for crunch and some squid and prawns to complement the scallops.

Noodles in a Thai Basil and Lemongrass Sauce

Okay hands up, I “cheated” by using the Blue Dragon Thai Basil and Lemongrass Sauce. Though the vegetables were all fresh. I took some onions, pepper, courgettes, green beans, broccolli, mushrooms and baby sweetcorn. I stir fried these in a hot pan for a few minutes,  before adding the sauce and a handful of cashew nuts. I then added the noodles that I had cooked earlier in boiling water for a couple of minutes.

I served the noodles alongside my spiced pork belly.

Fish on Noodles

In December 2009 I went to a conference in Auckland in New Zealand. After the conference I went out for a meal with some friends.

I like to think I am adventurous when I come to eating out, but more usually than not I will go for something that sounds familiar, or I like. Fish is a prime example where I will go for squid, but unlikely to go for a fish dish. Not that I don’t like fish, on the contrary, but I do find I might choose something else…

However this time….

I ordered a grilled piece of fish on noodles (I forgot to note what fish).

It was very nice and I was glad I ordered it.

I try now when eating out, order things I might not usually order…