This week we ventured to Wagamama in Old Eldon Square to see what they had to offer gluten free diners. For those who have been living under a rock for the last five years, Wagamama is a pan-Asian restaurant chain specialising in the famous Japanese dish, ramen. When it comes to eating gluten free, good oriental food it by far the hardest to find. The primary ingredient in soy sauce is wheat, and soy sauce is the primary ingredient in virtually everything, so I do then to avoid eating out at Chinese and Thai places if I can, in favour of cooking at home. That being said, some places, including Wagamama, stock tamari sauce, which is a gluten free soy sauce alternative. To me it tastes exactly the same and it’s a wonder that so few places stock this awesome ingredient.
We visited on a busy Friday evening but that didn’t seem to affect the level of service we received. Wagamama is one of those places that adapts a very personal and friendly style of service; the waiter introduces themselves by name and proceeds to scribble all over your paper placemat when you order (makes sense when they bring the food out and know exactly who ordered what).
At Wagamama, there is a ring binder folder with a list of every meal by allergen. Not only do they highlight which food contains certain allergens, but they also signify which meals can be adapted to not include certain allergens. As far as I know, this is the only high street restaurant chain that is open to adapting meals to accommodate certain dietary requirements. I understand that the nature of pan-Asian food is that it is cooked fresh to order, but it’s certainly no easy feat when the restaurant is packed and everyone is ordering something slightly different.
The waiter took our drinks order and I went for a Tropical Juice. Although on the pricey side (£4.50 for a large), I really enjoy the fresh juices from here because they are made fresh to order and I always think the taste of fresh fruit really complements this kind of cuisine. When ordering food, they insist that a manager takes your order if you have a specific dietary requirement. Another gold star for Wagamama – they go out of their way to make you feel safe in the knowledge that you aren’t going to get poisoned (take notes Thaikhun).
I ordered the Chicken and Prawn Cha Han Donburi (£8.95), which is essentially a ‘special fried rice’-style dish with mixed veg and chunks of chicken and king prawns. In the back of the allergen file, there is a list of adaptations required to each dish to accommodate certain dietary requirements. As a result, the manager was able to inform me exactly how my meal would come and what it would/wouldn’t include. I asked for some tamari sauce and he said they would mix it into the dish for me – thumbs up.
The food came quick and was piping hot. As expected, it was super tasty – not bland, like many gluten free Asian restaurants I have tried out. Whether you have an allergy, an intolerance or simply don’t like mushrooms, Wagamama is a fantastic place to eat as a group without being made to feel awkward or demanding. It’s great to know like Wagamama is present in most large cities nowadays, so even when you’re out and about and not sure where you can trust – Wagamama is always on hand to offer high quality, carefully-cooked food.
Staff knowledge: 5/5