Wagamama is one of the latest restaurants to hit the Jeddah food scene. Wagamama is an Asian cuisine chain that was first started in Bloomsbury London in 1992 by Chinese British restaurateur Alan Yau, and now has more than 140 branches in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Many Jeddawis had been eagerly keeping an eye on their upcoming site and now that Wagamama is up and running, Jeddah Blog’s very own reviewer Abdullah Yahya lost no time in trying it out. He reports back to JB readers in this exclusive report.
The concept of Wagamama, which means ‘self-indulgent’ in Japanese, is inspired by Japanese ramen bars with food served fresh and fast. Their menu is extensive and designed to suit different tastes. And although it’s influenced heavily by Japanese cuisine, it has different elements from other East Asian cuisines.
The newly opened restaurant is still in soft opening (or at least it was when we visited it a few weeks ago). It is in Rawdah District, on the intersection of Hail Street and Al Nahdaa Street (the street parallel to Tahliah Street to the north aka Flood Canal Street).
When it comes to the décor, the restaurant went for simplicity in its design. It gives a feeling of open space with its high ceiling. The lamps hang down towards sturdy wooden tables, which gives a feeling of communal experience. So, if you’re one to like cozy more intimate places, this place is not for you. It also has an open kitchen, which always assures me that my food is up to high hygienic standards.
The menu for Saudi Arabia is smartly designed to help one decide what to eat. It has sections for appetizers, sides, salads, ramens, curries, teppanyakis, and more. Many of the main dishes can be ordered to your liking by changing the type of meat or turning up the level of spice to your taste.
For our first visit, we wanted to order ramen, but sadly it was still not available. We ordered fried Shrimp Gyoza (duck was not available) and Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki. I did not like the Gyoza at all, the taste of the dough was bland and starchy, and it did not make me want to have another one. The Lollipop Prawn on the other hand was very tasty, but the serving of 3 pieces is strange, I think they should make it an even number.
For the main dishes we had the Firecracker Chicken Curry, which was amazing. Spicy and very aromatic with a side of sticky rice. The other dish we chose was a Teppanyaki dish. We opted for Teriyaki Soba with rice noodles. This one was another home run, but gun to my head, I would give the edge to the curry. The drinks we had with these main dishes were fresh juices which we liked, but did not necessarily love.
Finally, we checked the dessert menu, not all of the items were available but the Banana Katsu was, and it was glorious. It’s a play on the famous fried banana dessert with a scoop of ice cream. We had that with hot drinks, which were not all that special.
If you would ask me whether I would visit Wagamama again, my answer would be sure. With the speedy friendly service, tasty food, and moderate prices, one must be crazy to pass that over. That said, I would wait to make sure all the items on their menu are available first.