It’s great to see more and more high street restaurants expand their vegan offering, so there was a huge fanfare when Wagamama recently announced it would be launching a specific vegetarian and vegan menu recently. Although Waga have accommodated, it was usually left down to staff to talk customers through adaptions that were possible from the hefty allergen menu, like I experienced when I visited (here).
As our local Newcastle branch had many vegans working there, we always found them to be helpful in this regard, but many others on Facebook had complained and said they had received conflicting information as to whether dishes were SFV or not. A new clearer menu certainly alleviates this issue! We visited the Metrocentre restaurant as we’d heard the new dishes were available here.
After requesting the new menu I was told that it had already been popular. In fact, as I was sitting browsing I could hear others around me ordering vegan this and that. I suddenly didn’t feel alone or that my dietary requirements were unusual. Que Pip straining her neck to see if she could recognise anyone in the restaurant from the internet 🙂
We wanted to start with the usual – Yasai Gyoza – and also decided to try out the Wok Fried Greens too. As Wagamama send dishes out as soon as they’re prepared we actually received our main courses first, which lead to a frantic free for all to make sure nothing got cold.
New dish Kare Burosu was the choice of the Teen, which is a udon noodle broth topped with Shichimi coated silken tofu. Typically including pepper and chilli in this spice mix, it had a mild heat to it. He requested no mushrooms as he isn’t a fan and was happy that the dish was adapted to suit his tastes. The curried vegetable broth will be popular with those who miss Wagamama’s popular Katsu. It was incredibly filling and he struggled to finish it, although the steamed dumplings also helped sate his appetite.
Non-veggie favourites like Pad Thai and Yaki Soba now feature on the menu, so I decided to give the chose Pad Thai a whirl for my main course. I personally felt there could have been a few more chunks of tofu as the ratio of rice noodles and veggies was a bit skewed.
Most folk are aware that Waga’s Yasai Itame was suitable, and it was a dish I’d already tried out on previous visits. This comprises of rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup, topped with tofu and vegetables. A delicately fragrant dish, I’m happy to see it remains as a vegan staple on the new menu.
I also tried out the Yasai Samla Curry as a takeaway once the menu was launched. Another dish which features a lemongrass and coconut based, this time as a curry, the rice is topped with a mix of tofu, peppers, shiitake mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes. Again, those who miss the Katsu will probably love this creamy curry dish.
While many restaurants feel they can get away with offering a few choices to those with dietary requirements to tick a box, it certainly doesn’t feel like Wagamama fall into this camp. I was slightly disappointed to see two sorbets as the dessert options, but I was stuffed by that point anyway. With 6 decent main course options available, they’ve done a lot to tempt us vegans away from the likes of Zizzi and PizzaExpress and their vegan cheese pizzas. If they launch a Seitan Katsu – which is apparently in development – they’ll have queues out the door!
Thanks for reading,