Soon after Wagamamas opened in Leeds, we had a mediocre meal there, much the opposite to the excellent food I’ve eaten at many other branches in Manchester and London. Since then, we’ve always favoured Tampopo round the corner when noodles were called for, but sometimes, it’s good to give somewhere a second chance, on the basis that even the best places serve the odd duff meal.
The first thing to note about Wagamamas is that you’re sat on a bench at a long table. The benches are slippy, and to a two year old, the temptation to slide around and try to sit on Mum’s knee is too strong, especially if the said two year old is in one of those slightly awkward moods that two year olds sometimes get. Lunch was a little frustrating as a result, but big brother behaved superbly and discovered how to use chopsticks for the first time, which I’ve assured him is a skill that’s just as important as something like reading or writing.
I had ebi katsu, tiger prawns deep fried in very fine breadcrumbs and served with a chili dipping sauce along with chicken kare loman, ramen noodles and chicken in a spicy coconut milk based soup with beansprouts, ginger, galangal, cucumber and quite a lot of chili. The soup was fiery and had depth and flavour, and it was just hot enough to handle.
The kids had chicken katsu and sticky rice, which struck me as a very sensible children’s meal, a good balance between offering something a child will probably eat without too much fuss and something that fits in well with the style and ethos of the restaurant. Our kids found the sticky rice easy to handle and eat, in one case, even with chopsticks.
Jen had a grown-up version of the same dish, including a curry sauce that veered a little on the sweet side. The chicken was excellent, well cooked with a crunchy coating.
The kids had an apple juice each, which proved the low point. The juice had been freshly pressed, but had separated in the glass into two halves – a mushy cap covering a clear liquid. Big brother drank it all, little sister wouldn’t entertain it at all, and I’d side with her on this one.
Wagamamas is a superb chain – the food is dependable, very tasty and authentic, the service efficient and the kitchen fast. It’s good value all round.
31-32, Park Row,
Tel: 0113 243 3468