Sunday, 4 February 2018

REVIEW: Wagamama, St Albans

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans
Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans
Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans
Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

When Matt and I started dating, he immediately got a free pass to all the food reviews I did for the blog. He was pretty happy, but my friends and family were a wee bit put out. These days, I try to share them out - I usually do the local ones with Matt, but tie in the London ones with seeing a London-based pal instead. However, when Wagamama asked me if I wanted to pop along and review the St Albans branch, I decided to break my rules and take my Mum along instead.

It was just before Christmas, so it felt like a nice time to do a treaty meal out. Obviously, I've been to Wagamama countless times, but going for my blog felt rather more exciting. Sure, people stared at me as I took photos of our meals with my giant obnoxious camera while my Mum said proudly, 'It's for a blog! Our meal is free!' (Muuuum...) but it also meant an excuse to order something exciting off the menu and go ALL IN on the sides, rather than my usual go-to of Ginger Chicken Udon and edamame beans.

Sidenote: There was a Buzzfeed quiz recently where it asked what your favourite Wagamama order was, and Ginger Chicken Udon WASN'T ON IT. I know there's a lot of Katsu fans out there (sorry, I just don't really like it) and that's cool, but the amount of times I've been to Wagas and we've all ordered Ginger Chicken Udon. It is a classic, and it deserves respect. And if you've never ordered it, YOU SHOULD.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

Anyway. After starting with a G&T (with jinzu, a Japanese inspired gin infused with cherry blossom, yuzu and sake), we went all in on the sides, as promised. Obviously we got edamame beans with garlic and chilli salt, because it's not really a trip to Wagamama without them. We also got pulled pork gyozas, which are so good - sweet and spicy, but not overly greasy because they're steamed, not fried.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans
Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

Our curveball side was Beef Tataki, and it did not disappoint. It's kind of a Japanese carpaccio - lightly seared, marinated steak, thinly sliced, dressed with citrus ponzu and japanese mayonnaise and pickled beetroot. This looks absolutely banging, and it tasted even better. Such an incredible mix of flavours that all complimented each other perfectly, and it was like nothing else I'd ever tasted. It melted in your mouth - cliched, but so true. I'll be ordering this basically every time I go now.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

For our mains, I did as promised and didn't order my favourite Ginger Chicken Udon. Instead, I went for the grilled duck donburi. I must confess, I have had this before and have been meaning to order it again ever since. It's a huge bed of sticky rice (which always reminds me that I should make more effort when making rice), topped with shredded duck leg soaked in teriyaki sauce, with tons of vegetables and a fried egg on top. There's also a side of kimchee, which I always try and remember that I don't like it. It's yummy - a frankly enormous bowl of deliciousness. The duck is flavoursome and tender, and works so well with the mix of flavours and textures from the veg. Plus, they also do my favourite culinary trick of throwing an egg on it. Everything's better with an egg.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

My mum has a terrible habit of ordering the one disappointing item on the menu, so I quite often try and suggest options for to sideswipe that curse. This time I suggsted the Nuoc Cham Tuna, because I know she loves fish and it sounded tasty and colourful, even to me, who hates fish. I mean, when I say it sounded tasty, I mean it sounded tasty to someone who likes fish. It was actually a really good shout - my mum is on a low GI diet because she was told about a year ago that she was at risk of developing diabetes, and this managed to be delicious while ticking the low GI box. Wagamama is generally good for a healthy meal, although I often wish they did half-portions for lunch as their portion sizes are huge.

Mum's tuna steak came seared on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion and peppers. She described it as super tender, not over-seasoned but very well done - letting the flavour of the tuna shine through, and she loved the combination of vegetables that came with it. It's such an attractive, colourful plate, isn't it?

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

We were pretty much done by this point, but the manager came over and persuaded us to hit up the dessert menu, and like heroes, we obliged. Mum ordered the banana katsu on the manager's recommendation, which was basically the Wagamama version of banana fritters - banana fried in panko breadcrumbs, with a scoop of salted caramel. She loved it - I had a bite, even though I'm not a big banana fan, and it was so crispy and sweet and gooey.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

I went for the coconut cheesecake, which was layered with fig slices and topped with a figgy glaze and caramelised sesame seeds. It looked beautiful and tasted even better, with a combo of flavours I'd never had before. Turns out that figs and coconuts are BFFs, and oddly the sesame seeds on top added an extra layer to it that I didn't expect. YUM.

Review of Wagamama in St Albans by Essbeevee, food blogger in Hertfordshire. One of the top places to eat in St Albans

We really loved our treaty lunch at Wagamama and it goes without saying that we'll be back - in fact, I've been back since this visit already! Wagamama are really trying to make their menu accessible for everyone, and have even launched a separate vegetarian and vegan menu to promote their non-meat items even more. It's a great place to go if you're trying to eat a bit healthier, but also if you just want a big, amazing meal. I love you, Wagamama.

Wagamama has branches nationwide, and we visited the St Albans branch at Christopher Place, St Albans AL3 5DQ. Wagmama kindly paid for our meal in exchange for this honest review.
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1 comment

  1. Believe it or not I haven't been to a Wagamama yet - their food always looks so delicious so I really should visit!

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