Ever wondered whether the ramen noodles you slurp at Wagamama actually taste like the ones people post on Instagram during a trip to Tokyo? I’m here with some answers.
DISCLAIMER: I know Wagamama doesn’t claim to be “authentic”. Still… I have something to say.
I am a Japanese person who grew up in both Tokyo and North London and have a mother who can cook almost anything on the planet.
Good Asian food is hard to come by. The flavours are delicate and require meticulous balance or the dish will be too greasy, spicy, or straight-up bland, especially with Japanese food. The reason why a lot of people “can’t get into tofu” is probably because it hasn’t been prepared and seasoned properly!
Anyway, the UK is known for its affinity towards Asian chain-restaurants - the most prominent one being Wagamama.
Growing up, my mum refused to go to Wagamama because she said it was trash. A few weeks ago, I got sick of buying 55p Nissin noodles to satisfy my craving for a “taste of home” and caved.
I ordered the Shirodashi Ramen (translates to “white broth”) and my friends and I shared side dishes of Ebikatsu (panko-battered prawn) and Gyoza (dumplings). Here’s what I thought:
The Ramen: 6/10
The noodles were over-done and had probably not been shaken enough when taken out of the boiling water, but the broth and pork belly were good. The egg just… didn’t look right.
The Ebikatsu: 8/10
This was actually pretty damn good. The sauce that came with it (chilli garlic) was good with it too! Well done Wagamama, albeit not the Ebikatsu I’m used to.
The Gyoza: 2/10
Again, I see that Wagamama is not claiming to be “authentic”, but if this is what people in the UK see as “Asian” or “Japanese” food, I can’t think of anything more tragic.
If you live in a bigger city like London or Manchester, it’s easy to Google places around you that have been rated and reviewed by people like me. However, if Wagamama is the only place you can experience Asian cuisine, I strongly recommend making a curry from a jar or taking a trip to the “oriental” aisle to look through some ingredients needed to follow a recipe instead.
Long story short, it’s just not worth the money. I mean if you like it, go ahead! Just bear in mind that it’s not real.