First things first – I need to clarify that I did a short stint working for Wagamama in London so I experienced the ‘behind the scenes’ bit for a little longer than I would have liked. I did spend some time after that not stepping back into one of their restaurants (not because there was anything wrong but because eating Ramens 5 times a week was enough to last me for a while). Now I just crave it every now and then.
However, Wagamama here is very different to the UK venues. First of all the food there was much much cheaper. The figures are comparable if you convert exchange rates directly, but not when you compare the value. 20 pounds for a meal in the UK used to be cheap but $60 here for exactly the same thing is quite expensive especially when you can get plenty of good similar type food very easily in Brisbane.
Also the staff in the UK is much much more efficient. You need to take the drinks order within 3 (or 5 – don’t remember exactly) minutes after your customer’s have been seated, mains slightly after etc. The concept is to get as many tables turned as possible – the more people that get served the more tips! And although that makes for the quicker meal it also gave you better service which is sometimes lacking especially in the Emporium venue.
Enough moaning … the food itself is very good and as I mentioned I do crave it once in a while. Wagamama does not have starters – it has sides. So plates come out as soon as they are ready, there is no order to it so you need to have that expectation in mind. With that note the noodle dishes do come out quite quickly before anything else so just start eating when the food comes over – the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, although very noisy.
My favourite dishes rotate between the ginger udon, chicken chilli ramen and chicken katsu curry (although these need to be eaten in moderation). The ramens are actually the healthiest thing on the menu so if you are watching your food they are good option. The ginger cheesecake is great too – definitely my favourite desert and although I am generally not hungry after the main I still order it because its sooo good. You will also get free green tea – so order away!
There is something different about the food at Wagamama – it is quite special and you will not get it anywhere else. Plus the quality of food is quite consistent between the outlets so whether you are in London, Amsterdam or Chermside you can expect the same taste (which does not always happen with food chains). The Fortitude Valley restaurant also has quite a nice bar at the front where you can wait for a free table or just have drinks and sides.
The waiting is another point worth mentioning. If you are there in peak times, you do have to wait so be ready for that. Generally the line moves quite quickly so just hang around (unless you are a big group of course). As far as I know you cannot book however, I am not sure if that is still the case.
All in all a good place and I will keep going now and then. Register for their frequent noodler card to gain points and save some cash – also keep a look out for their special offers. They often have a 241 on mains which is great value.
Address: Wintergarden, Level 3/171, 209 Queen Street, Brisbane
Phone: 07 3036 7135
Mon – Fri: 11.30-22.00
Sat – Sun: 12.00-23.00