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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).


Wagamama’s open plan seating

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.


Clear and simple – an easy-to-read menu.

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.


Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki and Shrimp Gyoza

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.


Firecracker Chicken Curry – spicy and aromatic.

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.


Teriyaki Soba with rice noodles

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.


The Banana Katsu – glorious!

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.

JB rating

Food: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10

Ambience: 9/10

Approximate cost per head
SR150, including two appetizers, two main dishes, 2 fresh juices, one shared dessert and two hot drinks.

How To Walk Off Your Stress

Kim Lyon is a trainee therapist at the ACT Center. Each month she’ll be writing for Jeddah Blog about a particular  aspect of mental well-being. She offers counselling services to the expat community in Jeddah, helping to ease the stresses of moving abroad through workshops and individual sessions. An expat herself, Kim is in a good position to understand the difficulties an expat may face.

In this first blog post, Kim will be talking about the health benefits of exercise and giving us some great tips on how we can take steps to keep fit. If you are like many of us who have transportation constraints and find it difficult to get to a gym, Kim will give you some great ideas on how to get moving without even leaving your living room.

If you have any questions for Kim, leave them at the end of this blog post, and she’ll get back to you.

2015 has arrived, and no doubt many of us are resolving to be healthier this year.  Gym owners delight as people flock to sign up for memberships. While you are thinking about your good intentions for the coming months, consider also the mental benefits of working out.

Exercise is a great stress reliever. It releases feel good chemicals, endorphins, into our blood and lowers levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Studies have shown that exercise can boost our memories and levels of self-confidence. Team sports can be an opportunity to socialize and learn new skills. Using energy gives us energy, though sometimes it’s a matter of getting started.

brain exercise

There are an increasing number of gyms in Jeddah, including chains such as Fitness First, Fitness Time, and Gold’s Gym. A quick Google search reveals many independent gyms across the city, too. For women, Olympia (behind Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital), Gold’s Gym and some of the high-end hotels have gyms, although memberships are extremely expensive.

Thankfully, incorporating exercise into your lifestyle doesn’t have to mean long sweaty hours at the gym or spending lots of money on equipment. The Middle Corniche and Main Corniche are excellent, safe places to walk, often with the added benefit of a breeze.  Walkways have become quite popular and the promenade along the Flood Canal Street in Rawdah is a great place to walk.  If mall-walking appeals, head to Al Salaam Mall or the Mall of Arabia. Both are usually quiet in the mornings and can offer a good walk. If you fancy hiking in the desert, look up Jeddah Backpackers or the Hash Harriers. Research has shown that walking can increase our immunity, bone density and mood. It also can act as a free insurance policy against heart disease and obesity.

“Using energy gives us energy”

You don’t even need to leave your living room. Second-hand fitness equipment can be found online at sites such as, while fitness DVDs are available at Virgin Megastore. You may also want to check expat groups for fitness instructors offering private classes.

Youtube is a surprisingly great resource. Type in salsa, kick-boxing, tae bo, step-intervals – anything you are interested in – and you’ll likely find a workout or two! FitnessBlender has a huge selection of no-nonsense workouts catering for all levels of fitness.

While yoga is typically hailed as good for relaxation, we don’t all have the inclination to become human pretzels, and that’s ok. However, I would urge you to try it, because it’s such an excellent mind-body workout. has an amazing selection of different types of classes which you can stream or download, and is well-worth checking out no matter your age or ability.

Great weather for an evening walk.

Jeddah walkways are great for an evening walk or jog.

If you consider yourself a diehard couch potato, hopefully this article will prompt you to think again. Don’t follow the crowd or fitness trends. Think about what you like to do.  Extroverts might be more attracted to fitness with a social element, so might consider dance, tennis or team games, while introverts might prefer more solitary pursuits like swimming and hiking.

Please do consult your physician if you haven’t exercised in a long time. Don’t rush into a fitness program, and don’t push yourself to workout intensely everyday. Build up slowly from twenty minutes of exercise, two or three times a week. Aim to include activities you enjoy.  As with any commitment to a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to build sustainable habits.

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