Good food, not so good service

We visit Wagamama quite a bit compared to other places, however we have never been to the branch at Cabot Circus. It was a bank holiday and the place was busy and we had to queue (as you can’t book tables at Wagamama).

We were kept informed about the wait, I think partly to put people off, but we continued to wait. Eventually we were shown to a table and we looked over the menu.

I did consider having the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken which when I went to Wagamama in Manchester was off the menu. I also thought about the spicy miso mackerel kokoro bowl. In the end I decided I would have a katsu curry. I chose the vegan yasai katsu curry. This was aromatic katsu curry sauce, vegetables in crispy panko breadcrumbs, sticky white rice, side salad, japanese pickles.

The vegetables were aubergine, sweet potato and butternut squash. I did think that usually I would have gone with the chicken katsu, but I what I wanted from the dish was the curry sauce, the rice and the texture of the crispy panko. The chicken wasn’t necessary and I liked the idea of different vegetables.

I did enjoy the dish, though I wasn’t enamoured with the curry sauce, maybe I should have gone with the hot spicy version. The panko vegetables were very nice, I liked the crunch and you could taste the vegetables.

To accompany the curry I had a Singha beer, which was nice and fresh. I would have preferred the beer to be colder though.

As for the service, I was less than impressed. I know at Wagamama the food arrives when it is ready, so dishes won’t be served together. Normally I am alright with this, but this time the first two dishes arrived quite quickly, the other two took much longer to be served. By the time the final dish arrived, we had nearly finished our food. We ordered some more drinks, and they spent a lot of time on the bar, before they were brought to the table. There appeared to be a fair few staff. I think part of the issue was they were being inundated with online takeaway orders which was swamping the kitchen.

So good food, not so good service.

Crispy Squid

One dish I eat on a regular basis at restaurants is crispy squid.

I’ve recently eaten crispy squid at Las Iguanas, though the squid in my opinion was rather overcooked. 

I also had chilli squid at Wagamama.

That time I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in a hard crunchy batter.

The second time I had calamari from La Lola at the St Nicholas Market in Bristol it was excellent.

calamari

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon.

Alas the calamari from Kingfin from the street food markets in Bristol was one of my favourite lunch dishes. You got a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh.

However they have changed their menu recently so you can’t get it anyore.

As well as eating crispy squid I also make it at home. This is a recipe for making my own gluten free crispy squid.

I take some squid, sometimes I use fresh squid, I score the squid and slice into chunks. Other times I use defrosted squid rings that I cut so I get strips of squid rather than rings.

I coat the squid in seasoned gluten free plain flour. This I leave for at least fifteen minutes and check that all the squid is coated in the flour.

I then deep fry the squid in hot oil. Season and serve.

Time for something that was not as good as it could be

In my first visit to Manchester since September 2019 I was needing a place to eat dinner. I did consider going to Reds the barbecue place, but in the end decided that the last time I had eaten at Reds, in Leeds, it wasn’t the best meal I had had. Back then the brisket was a little dry. The menu had changed, so I couldn’t order the mixed platter with the short rib as I had done in Leeds. I then decided I quite liked the idea of tacos, but Chilango who did some nice tacos back in October 2016, tacos were no longer on their menu. They did burrito and boxes, but I fancied tacos.

In the end I went to Wagamama. It was quite busy, but they found me a seat. I looked over the menu and thought about what I wanted.

I wanted to have the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken, turmeric, garlic and ginger marinated chicken, roasted and served on a bed of coconut and lemongrass dressed rice. pickled slaw and radish. chilli. coriander. caramelised lime. However they had run out of the turmeric, garlic and ginger sauce. This also meant they couldn’t do some of the other dishes as well.

In the end I ordered the teriyaki chicken donburi, this was chicken in teriyaki sauce with sticky white rice, shredded carrots, pea shoots and onions. garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of kimchee.

It did look really nice. The chicken alas was overcooked and a little dry. It could have done with a  little more sauce in my opinion. I enjoyed the rice.

Alongside I had the vegan mixed mushroom hirata buns. These are two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and mayonnaise.

These were nice and full of flavour. I also had a green tea which alas wasn’t hot.

Overall it was okay, certainly not as good as I have had at other branches.

I then went back to the hotel where I had a (hot) green tea.

No time for waiting

I was staying in Birmingham and was looking for somewhere for lunch. My original plan was to go to Pierre Bistrot, as I did quite fancy some French food.

I went in, there was the usual “please wait to be seated” sign. So I waited, then I waited a little more. Finally someone saw I was waiting and I asked for a table.

I sat down and looked at the menu. Then I waited, I waited and I waited.

I knew I had a meeting in my diary in less than an hour, but looking around seeing other people waiting for food and others waiting to order. I realised that there was no way I was going to order, get my food, eat the food, and pay my bill in the hour I had for lunch. So instead of waiting, I left my table and exited the restaurant, which was a pity as I did like the idea of eating French.

Still knowing I needed lunch (and that I was going to eat late that day) I headed off to Wagamama at Brindley Place.

Much better service. 

I went upstairs and there was no queue and I was quickly shown to a table I looked over the menu and chose to have some chilli squid, which I hadn’t had for a while and yasai yaki soba, which I had had more recently.

I didn’t have to wait too long before the food arrived. The yasai yaki soba arrived first and looked like the dish I had before and on the menu.

This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Though I enjoyed the dish, I don’t think it was as good as the last I had it, which surprised me a little.

The chilli squid arrived and I liked the look of the dish.

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

I was though disappointed with my squid. I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in hard crunchy batter. I think it could have been so much better. I think I should have had the bao buns instead, maybe next time.

I used the QR code process to pay the bill, so I didn’t need to wait for that, and left feeling I had a nice lunch.

Time for a Raisukare

We went out to eat at Wagamama at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, which is one of our regular haunts for meals out

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was busy and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

This time we had to wait a while as they were understaffed, but it didn’t feel too long before we were shown to a table.

I looked over the menu, I was tempted by dishes I had before but in the end I decided to have the Tofu Raisukare. This was a vegan curry of tofu, mild and citrus coconut sauce, mangetout, peppers, red and spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, coriander, served with fresh lime and white rice.

This was a nice fresh mild curry, though the red chilli added a bit of heat. The tofu had an interesting texture and wasn’t quite what I expected. I had thought the tofu would have a little more bite. The sauce was nice, the vegetables were very crisp.

Overall I enjoyed the dish and something I would order again.

Time for some yasai yaki soba

One of our regular haunts for meals out is Wagamama at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. It was the last place we ate out at, before the March 2020 lockdown.

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino. I quite liked the concept of Café Giardino and their sandwiches, but as I recall I didn’t eat there very much.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was full and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

It wasn’t long though before we were been shown to our table.

I looked over the menu, I did think about having a ramen, but in the end decided that I would have something that I wouldn’t usually choose, and went from a dish from the teppanyaki side of the menu.

I went with the yasai yaki soba. This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

yasai yaki soba

It looked great. There was some great flavours in the dish and I really enjoyed eating it. I did feel though it could have done with a lot more mushroom. My son had the prawn and chicken maki soba and compared to my dish, he had a lot more prawns and chicken than I had mushrooms.

I think I will try and create this dish myself at home.

Waiting for Wagamama

I have been to Edinburgh many times for work and have eaten out there when staying overnight. I had an excellent French meal back in November 2019. However though I have been there for work I have never been there for a personal visit. So when planning a short holiday for the summer we decide we would visit Edinburgh in August for a short city break.

On our first evening we had decided to visit Wagamama but the queue was horrendous so we then ended up at the Italian restaurant, Amarone. On our second evening, as it was late we ate in the hotel, what a mistake that was!

On our final night we decided we would go for Wagamama, though there was a queue it was shorter. We had to wait for a while, but once we were in, we were in. We were shown to a table and we looked over the menu.

I liked the idea of a rice dish so I went with the grilled duck donburi. This was 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.

I have had this dish before (I think) and I really enjoyed it. The combination of sauce, duck, vegetables with rice and egg was delicious. The kimchee adds some nice spice and heat to the dish.

Also served to the table was a  chicken katsu curry. This is chicken coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, covered in an aromatic curry sauce served with sticky rice and a side salad. 

I have to say I never like the look of this dish, but I was informed that it was delicious and the plate of food was polished off.

Another dish served to the table was a glass noodle salmon salad which was really enjoyed.

Overall we had a nice meal, the place was busy, but the service was attentive. It was noticeable though how the number of takeaway and delivery orders were impacting on the service to the customers who were actually sitting down in the restaurant. We know that there has been a huge growth in the demand for these services during the pandemic, but I am not so sure that restaurants have worked out how to manage the whole process, especially now that there are more people going out to eat in the actual restaurant.

Disappointing Deliveroo, well not really

Despite the pandemic and the growth of delivery services, it was only in July of this year that I finally bit the bullet and used a delivery service.

I was away, working in London, and I was staying at a hotel which didn’t have a restaurant. I didn’t really want to go out to eat, so decided that maybe this time I should use a service like Deliveroo.

There was an opening offer, so that made it quite cost effective and cheaper than I thought it was going to be.

I looked over the choices and in the end went with Wagamama.

I was quite hungry so I ordered Yaki Soba with Chicken and Prawns, a portion of Chilli Squid and some vegan mixed mushroom bao buns.

The process of ordering was really quite simple and the communication was good as well. There was a slight issue in the driver finding my hotel, but a quick phone call sorted that.

So why was the meal disappointing?

The food was cold and I had to reheat it in my hotel room (which luckily was equipped with a microwave).

I did think that initially this was down to Deliveroo.

Well I actually don’t think the problem was with Deliveroo, but actually was with Wagamama.

When I went to Wagamama in Edinburgh recently, they were preparing orders for delivery services and the food was left on a table without any thought to it getting cold. I suspect it was a similar process when I used Deliveroo for my Wagamama meal.

The thing is that, this really put my off using Deliveroo again for a hot meal delivery. I did use the service recently for some wine from Morrisons which was also efficient and quick.

So what about the actual food.

Well the Yaki Soba was rather nice, and once warmed up in the microwave was tasty. 

The chilli squid though looked great.

chilli squid

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi. served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

However this dish was quite cold, and even though I warmed it up in the microwave, I do think this made the squid somewhat rubbery and softened the crispiness. It was certainly not as good as when I have had it in the restaurant fresh to the table.

There was though one star dish amongst the ones I ordered which was the (vegan) mushroom steamed hirata buns.

mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns - two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise

These were mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns – two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise.

These were delicious and I really enjoyed them.

So the next time I fancy some food from Wagamama, I think I will take the time to visit the restaurant and eat there.

Last supper, well for a while

Before lock down and all the restaurants we usually frequent were closed we went to Wagamama at Cribbs Causeway. We had thought that places might close or be restricted, so took a final opportunity to go out and eat.

It was quite quiet compared to usual, but not to be unexpected. We were given a lovely warm welcome and we made our way to the table.

Looking over the menu and feeling quite hungry I decided that as well as my main course I would order a side of hirata buns. I really like these and have in the past been tempted to order them from Wagamama, but not really had a chance or wasn’t hungry enough, or more likely I chose the chilli squid instead.

The menu describes them as Mixed Mushroom Hirata Buns – two fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms, panko aubergine, coriander and mayonnaise.

ixed Mushroom Hirata Buns - two fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms, panko aubergine, coriander and mayonnaise.

The buns were lovely and fresh, warm and soft. The mushrooms were really tasty as was the panko aubergine. I demolished them fairly quickly and was left wanting more. They were very tasty buns.

Usually when I am at Wagamama I seem to order the ramen, so deciding to be different I want with a curry instead.

I had the Nikko Curry with Sea Bream, which the menu describes as fragrant and citrusy. Coconut, lemongrass and turmeric soup, roasted butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli, mangetout, bok choi, beansprouts, chilli, coriander, ginger, fresh lime, and chilli oil. It came with a side of white rice with sesame seeds.

Nikko Curry with Sea Bream, which the menu describes as fragrant and citrusy. Coconut, lemongrass and turmeric soup, roasted butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli, mangetout, bok choi, beansprouts, chilli, coriander, ginger, fresh lime, and chilli oil. It came with a side of white rice with sesame seeds.

I felt the fish was slightly overcooked, but I really enjoyed the soup and the vegetables were lovely fresh, and cooked perfectly. The dish overall was really tasty and I was wanting more when I had finished.

I really enjoyed the meal and was a little sad as we left as I realised that we might not enjoy such a meal again for some time.

Cod and Curry

We went to Wagamama for lunch. We had been shopping at the Mall in Bristol and were all feeling a little hungry.

The Wagamama at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway is in a weird open location at one end next to Marks and Spencers on a mezzanine overlooking the entrance. There are the regular benches and long tables, but there are also booths as well. We were given a nice friendly welcome and sat down at our table.

I was wondering what to have and decided to go for something different.

I quite liked the sound of the cod dish, which was cod mokutan soba, black charcoal soba noodles in a soy sauce with two fillets of miso-glazed cod, stir-fried bok choi, mangetout, red peppers and spring onions. drizzled with a sweet miso dressing and garnished with fresh ginger and coriander.

Unfortunately my fish was overcooked on the point of being burnt, so I had to send it back. When it came back it looked a lot better.

I really liked the black charcoal soba noodles, and the miso-glazed cod had a lot of flavour.

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

My other half went for a curry.

Chicken nikko curry, a fragrant coconut, lemongrass and turmeric soup with chicken, roasted butternut squash, turmeric cauliflower, tenderstem broccoli, mangetout, bok choi and beansprouts. garnished with chilli, coriander, fresh ginger, lime and chilli oil. served with a side of rice with sesame seeds.

I think she made the better choice.

Service was warm and friendly and overall we enjoyed the lunch.