It’s been ages since I’ve been to Wagamama. As a student, it was the “posh” place I went to if I had enough money saved for a cinema trip and a meal. It was rather convenient as the Printworks in Manchester housed both a cinema and a Wagamama. Serving up Asian inspired dishes, it hit that comfort spot for me with plenty of rice and noodle dishes to choose from. Since leaving studenthood, I’ve not really gone back to Wagamama. As I’ve started eating more plant-based I’ve seen more and more people recommend Wagamama as a good place for vegetarians to eat at. When they invited me I was thus eager to try out their new vegan menu, taking along vegan friend and thus “expert in her field”, Lacey from Laceyfitspo. This review takes place in the Spinningfields branch.
Wagamama exterior and interior
The Spinningfields branch is located just off Deansgate and is the first restaurant on your right as you turn into Hardman Street. Housed in the same building as the RBS, there is a fairly decent outside eating area with several parasols. The tables in this area seat 2 on either side, but can be pushed together to seat 4. Large floor to ceiling windows allows plenty of light inside the restaurant. The seating is mostly in the style of long tables and benches, like many Wagamamas, which makes this place excellent for larger groups. Don’t worry, though! There are a few cosier booths in the back. The open kitchen is to the right allowing you to see how the food is prepared.
We were introduced to many new drinks from their menu. First, we have two new cocktails: the Lychee Mule and the Sakura Spritz. The Lychee Mule contains lychee vodka, ginger syrup, lime juice and cold-brewed sencha (green) tea, garnished with ginger and mint. I was expecting more of a lychee flavour to come through, but it mostly tasted like a mojito with a subtle hint of lychee. As a reimagination of the classic Moscow Mule, it was lacking, but thinking of it like a mojito, it was a fairly refreshing drink. Just bear this in mind before ordering.
The Sakura Spritz contains cherry blossom, rosé wine, pink grapefruit, Campari and Bianco Vermouth poured over ice and topped with sparkling water. It is then garnished with lemon and mint. This was definitely more flavoursome and sweeter than the Lychee Mule and more to my liking.
Next is a kombucha created in collaboration with LA Brewery for Wagamama. What is kombucha? In the 21st Century, kombucha is known popularly as a fermented tea drink which is slightly alcoholic and sweetened. It has exploded in popularity as a health drink; I would take this with a pinch of salt. The health benefits are probably similar to that of any fermented foods, such as pickles and yoghurt. Fermentation is a microbial process whereby sugars are converted to alcohol or acid, and in fact, is also the same process that happens in our own intestines. The process is very good for our gut health, so it’s good to consume fermented foods every once in a while. Life, however, is all about balance and too much of any one thing, however good, can have negative effects. For example, South Koreans consume a lot of kimchi but they also have the highest rate of stomach cancers.
The ginger and turmeric kombucha was refreshing with neither main ingredients being overpowering. The taste is more flavoursome than tea might be but less sugary than an iced tea. A good one for a hot day if you are staying off the booze.
We ordered a selection of three different items for starters. Having heard from Eat and Two Veg that the Bang Bang Cauliflower was amazing, I knew I had to try it myself. The cauliflower is cooked with red and spring onion in a firecracker sauce, which is sweet, salty and spicy. The result is addictive and really moreish. Definitely a good pick!
Next was the Yasai Gyoza; grilled then steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, served with a dipping sauce. Now, I’ve had many dumplings in my life and for a while, I thought I disliked them. I briefly went through a period eating thick-skinned dumplings which were popular in Northern China, and I really did not like these at all. I am thankful that the wrappings on these are decent, however, the filling I am not a huge fan of. The vegetables inside were very stodgy and homogenous. I much prefer the gyozas from Yo Sushi, which are less stodgy and more textured as they contain cabbage, carrots, and edamame.
Lastly, we have the Hirata buns. These buns are made similarly to a basic loaf, but instead of being baked, they are folded and then steamed to create the classic ‘c’ shape. We ordered the vegan buns which contained mixed mushrooms, panko (breadcrumbed) aubergine and coriander. The buns were fluffy and the filling was decadent. Get this if you think you have the stomach space for it!
The Avant Gard’n is the showcase of the Wagamama Vegan menu. Created in collaboration with Gaz Oakley: chef, Instagrammer and YouTuber under the name of Avant Garde Vegan. Our waiter even said this was an Instagrammable dish (a bit cringe!). This dish features barbecue-glazed seitan, a coconut sriracha vegan ‘egg’, grilled shitake mushrooms, asparagus, edamame beans, carrots and spring onion dressed with a sweet sauce and garnished with sesame seeds and lime.
There’s been a lot of talk about this dish and the vegan ‘egg’. Let me first say, this is only an egg in looks and not in taste. That’s not a bad thing, but I think a lot of people order this dish expecting it to taste exactly like a regular chicken’s egg. The white portion of the ‘egg’ is the coconut sauce and the yellow is the sriracha. The entire bowl is served like a Korean bibimbap and like one, you are supposed to mix everything together before eating.
I really loved the mixture of colours, textures, and flavours in this dish. The rice makes it comforting to eat, but you also know you are consuming a fair amount of vegetables too. I definitely recommend this, just don’t expect the ‘egg’ to be an egg replacement.
The Vegatsu was Lacey’s choice and contains seitan (wheat gluten) covered in panko (breadcrumbs), covered in a curry sauce served with sticky rice and a dressed side salad. If you don’t want seitan, Wagamama also has a vegetable curry called the Yasai Katsu Curry (£9.95) which is served with sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash instead.
The seitan was cooked well but I felt there wasn’t enough curry sauce or there was too much rice for my liking. Having said that, our waiter said he is personally happy with the amount of rice, so judge how much you eat normally before ordering this dish. Maybe I can ask for less rice and more salad next time? I also would have personally liked more vegetables with this dish, perhaps some carrots cooked with the curry like a traditional Japanese Katsu curry.
There is always room for dessert, right? Wagamama serve a selection of non dairy ice creams/sorbet at £4.50 each for three scoops.
- Chocolate and orange blossom served with passion fruit coulis and fresh mint
- Strawberry and yuzu served with raspberry compote
- Pink guava and passion fruit served with fresh mint
We ordered the first two of these but I asked, given the fact that there are 3 scoops provided and they are all priced the same, whether someone can request a scoop of each. This would create sort of a vegan Neapolitan. Our waiter said he sees no reason why this request could not be carried out. Both of the flavours ordered were gorgeous, but I found the chocolate in the first and strawberry in the second are very much the dominant flavour, with the orange blossom and yuzu being secondary. After the ice creams have started to melt a bit, the secondary flavours do become more pronounced, though.
The first two flavours are provided by ice cream brand, Northern Bloc, who are based in Leeds. Yee Kwan provides the last, who are based in Sheffield. Both brands also provide other non-vegan desserts on Wagamama’s menu and some of their items you can buy from the shops too!
I also ordered the matcha and mango layer cake. My eyes darted right towards this even before we ordered our starters (I am a huge matcha lover)! Layers of vanilla sponge are sandwiched with matcha cream, yuzu cream, and a mango and passionfruit purée, topped with raspberry compote. The combination is very, very light and sweet. If anything, I am slightly disappointed by the lack of bitterness I had been expecting from the matcha cream, but overall I would eat this again.
Overall rating and comments
7.5/10, -0.5 for the Lychee Mule not tasting much of lychee, -0.5 for the yasai gyoza dumplings, just way too stodgy. -1 for the vegatsu, I would have liked to see more vegetables and less rice personally. -0.5 for not being able to taste the matcha much in the matcha layer cake.
Staff were very helpful and pleasant during the entire visit. If you have any dietary requirements, do let them know.
Would visit again?
Yes, I think I would consider coming back again, especially with friends who have dietary requirements.
There are several branches of Wagamama across the UK, with branches in Manchester in Spinningfields, St Peter’s Square, Printworks, Media City and Trafford Centre.