Saturday, 2 August 2014

Wagamama: Japanese Restaurant & Noodle Bar...

(Image courtesy of Wagamama).

I don't know about you lovelies but I love trying out new restaurants. Especially when I'm in a new place, city, town or even country. I love exploring and finding little hidden gems and cosy restaurants. I just get excited at the prospect of trying something new!

A lot of you have probably heard of Wagamama and have probably been there, it's not a new restaurant that's just opened or anything, but I'm aware that some of you might not have one in the exact place that you live and that you may have to travel to get to one. This is what I did recently, it's somewhere I've always wanted to try and our nearest one is in Birmingham and although me and Si have been to Birmingham many times, there's always been other places we've gone to eat/drink first, so when I was given the opportunity to sample some of their menu, I was definitely up for giving it a try and I love Asian cuisine in general so I was just thinking...yum! Ha.

If any of you are familiar with Birmingham, we (me and my mum) went to the one situated in the Bullring Shopping Centre, well just outside in St. Martin's Square, opposite St. Martin's church. We'd just been shopping for about four hours so we were really hungry and parched! The first thing I noticed when we walked in was that it was quite dark, not ridiculously dark where you couldn't see the menu or what you were eating but I noticed they had these blinds on the windows which kind of took the natural daylight out of the restaurant. I gathered they were trying to stop the sun from coming in and it being too hot, but yeah, I noticed it was a little dark. We were greeted straight away by a waitress called Sarah who was smiley and noticed we had shopping bags and asked us about our day and if we were shopping for any particular reason. She was on hand during the majority of our visit and didn't have us waiting long at all for anything. She must have finished her shift half way through as another lady started waitressing for us, but all in all I noticed that all the staff were friendly, polite and approachable, which of course is what everyone wants!

I loved the look of the restaurant, it had long wooden tables with benches and place mats with different dishes on them so you could see what a certain dish would look like, should you order it. There was also cutlery already on the tables in a pot, along with chopsticks. Chilli oil, chilli flakes, soy sauce and less salt soy sauce were also provided on each table. I did say to my mum that the main menu would fit lovely on the back of the paper place mats, they were large enough for it. We were handed the main menu which also consisted of drinks and then the dessert menu at the end of our meal when we were offered one. You could also see the open kitchen, where all the lovely food was being cooked. I will say that I was a little bit hot on that particular day and I was struggling, to the point where I had to keep ordering cold drinks to keep me cool. My mum said she was okay, so I guess it was just me!

Layout of the Birmingham Bullring restaurant.
(Image courtesy of Wagamama).

Cutlery and condiments already on each table.

The open kitchen at the back.

To start with we ordered some fresh juices, I ordered the regular Raspberry Rush (£3.40), which consisted of raspberries and apples. My mum had the regular Tropical Juice (£3.40), which consisted of mango, apple and orange juice. I was expecting the juice to be 'a juice', to me the texture was more like a smoothie and at that precise moment when I got into the restaurant I needed something to quench my thirst, so as nice as it was, it didn't really do the job. Also, I didn't feel it was cold enough, it was more like room temperature. I don't know if this was a one off or that's just how they're made, but my mum was fine with hers because she doesn't like really cold drinks, but it didn't really feel cold at all if I'm honest. It was a hot day overall and like I say I don't know whether this is standard or whether the weather played a part or what, but you know, just being honest.

Tropical Juice on the left and Raspberry Rush on the right.

Mother dearest enjoying her fruit juice!

When it came to ordering the food we decided to order the Teriyaki Chicken Donburi (£9.30 - grilled juicy chicken glazed with orange teriyaki sauce, sticky white rice, with thin sliced carrots, pea shoots, spring onion and sesame seeds, with a side of spicy kimchee (pickled vegetables) - for me, but we tried each others), the Chicken Tama Rice (£8.70 - grilled chicken breast stir fried with courgettes, mushrooms, red and spring onions in an oyster, ginger, garlic and wine sauce, served on sticky white rice - for mum), the Wok Fried Greens (£4.25 - tender stem broccoli and bak choi, stir fried in garlic and soy sauce) and Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki (£6.25 - skewers of grilled prawns marinated in lemongrass, lime and chilli, glazed with a sweet-sour hot sauce and served with a caramelised lime). We were told that the food is all cooked fresh and so could come out at different times, which we said was fine, but we didn't have to wait long at all and our mains came first, with the side dishes coming shortly afterwards. I chose mine because the idea of meat, veg and rice to me is just like heaven in a bowl. I love teriyaki flavours and this dish sounded like it'd be right up my street. I also love soy sauce, so half way through eating my main, I put some more soy sauce on mine :) happy days! It was delish. Mum's dish was also lovely, mine was more of a solid dish, where as hers came in a sauce. It's hard to go into detail with these dishes but it was just hearty, homely, comfort food and you could imagine sitting with your feet up on the sofa, all cosy, watching TV and tucking into food like this. The wok fried greens were amazing, I'd say to eat these quite quickly or mix them in with your main dishes as they can go cold quite quickly but the garlic and soy sauce they were stir fried in was just mmmmmm, I could have had that dish keep coming ha ha! The lollipop prawns were a different story for me, mum loved them but she's always loved prawns, I gave them a try because I loved the sound of the overall flavours and although I do like fish, I think it's clear I prefer meaty fish rather than the rubbery type, which mum told me prawns do tend to be, so yes, although the flavours were yummy, the prawns weren't for me!

Chicken Tama Rice.

Teriyaki Chicken Donburi.

Wok Fried Greens.

Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki.

A Sprite (£2.30 for a glass bottle) and a water (this was free, so I gather it was tap water as on the menu it says a 330 ml water is £2.00 and a 750 ml water is £3.95) later (for thirsty young me!), we were asked if we wanted the dessert menu and although I didn't want anything, mum made the decision to order the Passion Fruit Cheesecake (£5.50 - a smooth and creamy cheesecake served with a sweet passion fruit sauce). The kind lady brought two spoons over with this, so I tried a know, for research sake! I'm not really a dessert person and if I do choose a dessert, I tend to have something quite mellow. I love cheesecake normally, but I was so hot, I didn't really fancy a sweet dessert, but I tried a little and it was realllllllly sweet. Mum was loving it but I don't think I'd order that again for myself because it was so sweet. Bare in mind this is my opinion, I know there are plenty of sweet toothed lovelies out there that would prob love this, but as another option they do have a taster portion of three desserts (a small taster portion of each of the passion fruit, white chocolate and ginger and chocolate fudge cake), so this might be something better for the less sweet toothed peeps amongst you all. Mum also had a large cappuccino (£2.60) in a very stylish looking square glass, which I loved! She said it was very creamy and moreish and I thought reasonably priced for a large one considering what you pay in some high street coffee shops.

Passion Fruit Cheesecake.

In total our bill came to £43.10, which we didn't feel was too bad considering what we had (a main each, two sides, one dessert, two fruit juices, a Sprite and a cappuccino). If we were paying we would have split this, so just over £20 isn't bad for a nice treat of a tea/dinner out. It was nearly 5pm by the time we got to the restaurant and it filled us up for the rest of the night.

It was lovely trying out somewhere new and the food is right up my street so it's definitely somewhere I'd go again and take my Fiance. He loves the same kind of Asian cuisine so I know he'd love it too, he's already said he likes the sound of the Chicken Katsu Curry! We even left a tip as it was always service with a smile and the staff were always on hand should you need anything. We didn't really fancy alcohol during this visit, but I think next time I might give their plum wine a try, which is also served with sparkling water and ice.

You can view their website here, with full photo's of their menu so you can see what you like the look of before you go to the restaurant. Also, find out where your nearest restaurant is. If you want to see a menu with prices, you can view the main menu and the dessert and hot drinks menu. I love that you can view the menu on their website using a dietary menu filter, so if you're vegetarian, vegan or just looking for food that doesn't contain a certain ingredient you can tick certain boxes and the menu will be unique for you!

What's your experience with Wagamama?

What are your favourite dishes and if you haven't been there yet, what would you love to try?

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo

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