Wagamama say “our standards are high. our ingredients are cooked fresh, served fresh. every bowl and plate that we fill with them is served as soon as it’s ready. The colours and aromas, flavours and spices are always at their best when they touch your table.”
Wagamama is different to most restaurants in that they serve the food as soon as it’s cooked. It’s never sat under a heat lamp waiting to be served. It might mean that you get your side dishes before the mains, but meh – I’m not going to complain about getting food faster!
I’m no stranger to Wagamama, I’ve been going to their different locations for years now! You can generally guarantee a decent meal, at a fair price. So how does the intu Lakeside branch compare?
We were led to our table by a friendly member of staff – she gave J the obligatory crayons and activity sheet, which, lets face it all kids love! The staff are super helpful with ordering, nothing is too much bother. As everything is cooked fresh they are happy to alter dishes to suit you. If your kids don’t like rice, they can switch to noodles, if you want a little more spice in your dish – not a problem! They are happy to help. The staff were aware I was in there to review it, so I think we were getting extra good service. However, I’ve been here enough as a ‘normal’ customer to know the service in this branch is fantastic.
I really enjoy the food in Wagamama. It’s probably one of the most ‘veggie friendly’ restaurants you’ll find. There are plenty of dishes for us meat free folk the ‘Yasai Katsu Curry’ is a big seller. It’s sweet potato, aubergine + butternut squash coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, covered in an aromatic curry sauce served with sticky rice and a side salad is a firm favourite of mine. If you like your food a little more spicy, the Surendra’s Curry is GORGEOUS.
I opted for a Yasai Cha Han Donburi – which is stir-fried brown rice with tofu + vegetables. Egg, mushrooms, mangetout, sweetcorn and spring onions. Served with a side of japanese pickles. I was super careful not to get it down my shirt I’d picked up in the Ralph Lauren sale!
Miss A chose the Yasai Inatme – Which is rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup. Topped with tofu + vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies.
J chose the children’s Cod Cubes – cod cubes deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs. Served with sticky white rice, carrot, cucumber and sweetcorn, and katsu curry sauce.
I find the food to be excellent value, especially for the kids – for not much more than a happy meal your kids can have something that’s a lot more healthy. I also love that kids get ‘children’s chop sticks’ with their dishes. J loves picking up the food with his ‘chompsticks’.
For dessert J opted for ice cream and passion-fruit sauce. He demolished that, along with having a large amount of mine. I’d opted for the White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake, it was fantastic – I *love* the zing of ginger, I was surprised J did too! Miss A stuck with a simple Green Tea – probably sensible after all the food we’d inhaled!
We visited on a Saturday Afternoon, and both intu Lakeside and Wagamama were packed with shoppers. At peak times like this, it’s not really a place for a quiet, intimate meal. It’s filled with families and groups, and the long bench tables are packed out. It’s a fantastic place to bring the kids – and offers a more vibrant environment, and indeed menu than most other places.
I think my only criticism of the experience for children is the menu. It looks so boring. Kids need imagery of the food to see what they are choosing. Miss A fired up the Wagamama website on her phone to help James choose his food. If they had the same imagery on their website on the children’s menu, it would be perfect.
What can I say? Excellent, friendly staff (special mention to George for being a fantastic host), and fresh and yummy food. Wagamama Thurrock at intu Lakeside is a great place to grab dinner after a hectic shopping session. At less than £40 for all three of us for dinner, sides, pudding and drinks – it’s excellent value.
It’s busy, and bustling, but never uncomfortably so. Boring looking children’s menu aside, it’s one of my favourite branches of this chain.
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