Thursday, March 5, 2009

Review: Harvard Square Wagamama

Wagamama is a British noodle chain that has become ubiquitous across Europe. They recently opened branches in Boston, and are planning one in DC. When we spent a year in London during college, most of our university's get-togethers were at the original Bloomsbury location. The vibe is minimalist and efficient: stark white walls and rows of long wooden tables, with hipster waitstaff taking orders on wireless PDAs, scribbling item numbers on diners' paper menus.

Wagamama wasn't the most authentic noodle house in the city, but the atmosphere was fun and everyone could find something they liked for less than $10. That's true for American wagamama, too; if you want Japanese noodles made by Japanese people, walk a few blocks down Mass Ave. to the Porter Square mall. We go to wagamama for sentimental reasons, but also to order a few favorites from their vegetarian-friendly menu. The website has a dietary requirements section that lists dishes suitable for vegans and people with allergies, and the servers are always happy to check with the kitchen when I have ingredient questions. Drinks include raw juices and a yummy unsweetened ginger peach iced tea. And for dessert, there's vegan raspberry sorbet.

Here are our usuals, with descriptions from the menu:


edamame
freshly steamed green soya-beans, the perfect complement to drinks. hold up to your mouth and squeeze the succulent beans from the pod. choose sprinkled with either salt or chili garlic salt.
Edamame is nearly perfect, so it's best not to fiddle with it much. I like the coarse chili garlic salt, which isn't very spicy, but perfectly highlights the beans' buttery flavor and texture. Simple as it is, I look forward to steamed edamame more than anything else on the menu.

And it's so much fun to eat!


yasai chilli men
stir-fried zucchini, portabella, shitake and button mushrooms, green and red peppers, baby squash, snow peas and fried tofu. served with whole wheat noodles in a chili sauce made from chilies, ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, sweet red pepper and tomato.
This is my usual. Lots of colorful, crunchy vegetables in tangy sauce. It's not spicy, so I usually drizzle it with chili oil.

yasai katsu curry
deep-fried slices of sweet potato, eggplant and butternut squash coated in panko breadcrumbs, served with a light curry sauce and japanese style rice, garnished with a combination of mixed leaves and red pickles.
This is comfort food. Fried breadcrumbs and white rice, with a mild, creamy, mysteriously vegan curry sauce. We call it the wagamama Thanksgiving.

Wagamama gets a three on the chickpea scale. Vegans have several interesting meals to choose from.


6 comments:

  1. Hi Mary-wow cool post- yumm. i was wondering what kind of chocolate chips you use? i've been using the sunspire non-dairy chips but they're kinda spendy. Do you know of any regular grocery store type brand that might be vegan?

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  2. Hey Meghan. I've been using using Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips. They don't list any dairy ingredients, although the package says they were made in a facility with dairy and may contain trace amounts, etc. That's close enough for me, though it may not be for some people. They're cheaper than sunspire and easier to find.

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  3. thanks mary-sounds good!

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  4. I wandered over to this website because I was trying to find wagamama recipes! I ate at the Covent Garden location in London a few weeks ago, and nearly fell in love with the place!

    I really want to find out the recipe for the yasai katsu curry, so if you happen to know, please post!!

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  5. Hi O.R.S. I have the wagamama cookbook (by Hugo Arnold), but it does not have a recipe for the katsu curry sauce. That stuff is magical. It would be fun to try to recreate it, but your guess is as good as mine. The cookbook is pretty meat-heavy, but it has a recipe for yasai chili men and some other nice entrees. It's worth checking out from the library, if not purchasing.

    Good luck in your search-- if you figure out the katsu curry, please let me know!

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