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Friday, July 10, 2009

Restaurant Review: Wagamama

positive eating + positive living

Recommended by friends, we finally got to dine at Wagamama. It is a pan-Asian food chain that has gained some success internationally. In fact, restaurants in the chain exist across the globe in England, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Dubai (UAE), Belgium, New Zealand, Egypt, Cyprus, Denmark, and Greece.

There are only four Wagamama noodle restaurants in the United States, and it turns out that three of those are in the Boston-Cambridge area. We visited the Faneuil Hall Marketplace branch for our covert taste-test and blog-review.

Their business model is to offer healthy and fresh Asian dishes, quickly and at an affordable price. It's not a fancy place. We were seated quickly at a large table adjoining other groups of diners. Instead of table cloths, the paper place mats serve as notepads for the high-energy waitstaff. They reach over to scribble down numeric code related to your order on your place mat, and can later deliver the sticky rice without asking which member of your party ordered it.

Service is quick. Really quick. The wait staff takes your order verbally and enters it into a Wi-Fi enabled PDA, which electronically transmits it to the busy open kitchen in a flash. As soon as the dish is ready, its delivered by the waitstaff to your table on an item-by-item basis. Dishes can arrive a few minutes apart, so don't freak out others in your party get their dish ahead of you.

For those of you who are shy about ordering from a menu listing of transliterated Japanese food names, everything has a number, including side-dishes. Chop sticks are the default utensil, but American metallic tableware can be requested if you are so inclined.

While some of our items were listed as "spicy," we did not find them to be that hot. But over all, the quality of the food was very good and the range of selection of dishes is rather broad. Even the most particular and picky eater could find something on this menu.

One little peccadillo about the Faniuel Hall restaurant is that it does not house it's own restrooms. If you need the bathroom (even to wash your hands), you will need to walk down the corridor inside the public mall. On the positive side, you may get lucky and watch a street performer at the Marketplace as you dine. There are both indoor and outdoor tables.

This reviewer found the food to be tasty and the serving proportions to be rather generous. We did clean our plates, so no wagamama dogie bags were necessary - although I understand that they do have a brisk take-out service as well.

Just in case you were wondering, wagamama means "wilful or naughty child." In Japanese it can be also translated as "selfish."

So allow yourself to be wagamama, and go out to lunch or dinner.