Have you ever been to Wagamama? What did you think of the food? Good? Bad? Did you notice anything about the other patrons in the restaurant? Hmmm…
We know that an Asian place is only good if other Asians are eating there. If an Asian joint has more white than Asian folk eating there, alarm bells should be ringing and you know there’s something iffy. This is exactly the scene at Wagamama.
Wagamama is a restaurant chain that serves pan-Asian food in the style of a modern Japanese kitchen.
I ate at Wagamama (The Galeries Victoria, Sydney, pictured below) about five years ago when it first opened. I found the food extremely underwhelming and the communal seating a big turn off. I haven’t been there since… until last week.
For some silly reason, Maggie and I decided to try Wagamama again. The restaurant is moderately full (albeit with Western clientele) and it has survived for so many years, so surely our first impressions were wrong?
We were greeted by friendly British-accented staff (presumably backpackers). A quick glance at the menu and we settled on the Perfect Match special: a gyoza side and a main meal for only $19.90.
Duck gyoza – a deeply unsettling dish
Duck = delicious
Gyoza = delicious
Duck + Gyoza + Wagamama = horrible!
Gyoza is typically made with a thin and soft skin and pan-fried. The ones at Wagamama were rock hard, deep-fried and served with a strange hoisin sauce that was grainy and bitter.
$11.80 for those three unpleasant dumplings? You gotta be kidding!
Chicken katsu curry – a generous serving to match the price
Fortunately, the chicken katsu curry (pictured below) was half-decent. The crumbing was nice and crispy, and the serving was generous – well it ought to be for $19.40 a plate!
So two thumbs up? Errr no… maybe just one. The rice wasn’t very Japanese (it should be more glutinous) and the curry reminded us of the KFC mash potato gravy.
Oh dear. Don’t people know there is cheaper and far better Japanese food from Ichiban Boshi upstairs?
Wagamama: a pricey and underwhelming experience
Our verdict? On the food we were disappointed (again), however the service was wonderful! All my annoying questions – ‘What is the dipping sauce?!’, ‘What is this dark pink thing in my salad?’ – were answered with a smile.
I also made a point of counting the number of Asians in the restaurant, we were sorely beaten – a mere 4 out of 28 patrons *alarm bells*. Oh wait. The kitchen was staffed with almost all Asians, but they don’t count…
So where are the Asians? I can only surmise that we are far too smart to be eating at Wagamama.
*Wagamama is located around the world. Within Australia, there are outlets in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and of course, Sydney. But it’s not as though I’m recommending it.