Wagamama, 5 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD
Open daily 11.00 to 23.00
RATING: Food 4.5; Ambience 4.5; Service 5; Drinks 4.5; Toilets 4.5; Website 4
The new Wagamama in St Andrew Square was bustling with a mix of tourists and locals keen to experience the Wagamama phenomenon and to enjoy what the international chain calls casual eating.
Outlets are modelled on the 200-year-old ramen stalls of Japan and the dishes are based around noodles, rice and fresh ingredients.
The décor is stunningly simple and yet stylish with the use of cleverly illuminated mirrors against the naked brick walls particularly effective.
The atmosphere is vibrant. Ewa was our host and the menu required explanation. She did that with aplomb. We understood what to order and the composition of each dish. No surprises.
The dishes are designed to stand alone however there are a number of sides one can order. One of the most popular sides is chilli squid, crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce. It has a pleasant kick.
This was attractively presented and my first bite into this simple but effective dish was a delight and it proved addictive.
Pam enjoyed the much talked about hirata steamed buns. They were packed with subtle flavours. Once again, presentation was perfect and the taste? Superb.
Our mains arrived. My chefs special was teriyaki lamb. It comes from the grill and sits on a bed of soba noodles mixed generously with mushrooms, asparagus, kale and mangetout. It also has a pea herb and wasabi dressing. Each flavour came through and I particularly enjoyed the salty kale.
Pam was attracted by ginger chicken udon, noddles with mangetout, egg, chilli, beansprouts and red onion topped with pickled ginger and coriander. It looked and tasted great.
Of course, this restaurant had an extensive bar boasting crafted beers “selected to compliment the flavours of Asia”.
However, it also serves a delicious selection of fresh juices. Tropical – a mix of mango, apple and orange – was so refreshing and clean green – kiwi, avocado and apple – proved a triumph and a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Ewa brought desert. The deep fried banana katsu was a winner but it came served with caramel ice cream which, I felt, did not do the banana justice.
The sorbet selection is normally my preferred finishing dish and it was superb but one had to try the chocolate cake and ice cream. Delicious.
Wagamama now have several outlets in Scotland and it has not taken long for people to find the St Andrew Square outlet.
This chain has come a long way since it first opened its doors in London in 1992. Why are they successful? They deliver. Enjoy.