Wagamama @ N1 Islington, Angel

今日はエンジェルで用事があったので、N1ショッピングセンターにあるWagamamaでランチをした。Wagamamaは、中華の有名店・Hakkasan(ハッカサン)やYauatcha(ユアッチャ)、そしてブログでも書いたPrinciCha Cha Moonを手がけたカリスマレストラン仕掛人・Alan Yau(アラン・ヤウ)氏が1992年に創業した、「なんちゃって」ジャパニーズ・チェーン(Wagamamaのホームページでは、「pan-Asian(アジア料理)」とあるけれど)。味は今イチなんだけれども、学食のように長いテーブルが並ぶシンプルでモダンなインテリアにスタイリッシュなグラフィック、そして「ヘルシー」な「日本食」(イギリスでは、日本食=健康的と思われている)が気軽に食べられるというので人気に火がつき、今ではイギリスのみならず、ヨーロッパやアメリカ、中東にも進出している。

店の名前は日本語で、メニューにはラーメンやうどん、そば、やきそば、カレーライス、餃子等が並んでいるけれども、日本食もどきで似非日本食。いわゆる「日本の味」を期待してはいけない。香港系中国人経営だけあって、中華料理の影響が味付けや材料等に垣間見える。例えば今日Mが注文したWagamamaラーメン(下の写真、£7.95)。汁はラーメンとうどんつゆを混ぜたような不思議な味で、麺はふにゃふにゃ。その上にグリルチキン、マトウダイ、エビ、かまぼこ、厚揚げ、マッシュルーム、わかめ、青菜、メンマなどが何でもあり状態でのっている。Mはまあまあいけるよ、とか言っていたけれど、私的には自分で作ったインスタントラーメンの方がよっぽど美味しいと思う。私の野菜カツカレー(£7.65)は、Sweet Potato(日本のサツマイモと似ているが、もう少しべちゃっとしている)、なす、バターナット・スクァッシュ(カボチャの一種)をカラッと揚げたカツとサラダはなかなか美味しいけれど、肝心のカレーはご飯の量に比べて少なく、味も薄くて、コクもうまみもない。かろうじてカレーと呼べる代物だ。また日本ではB級グルメのこれらのメニューも、Wagamamaでは日本円で1000円を優に超える。この味にこの値段?!と思ってしまうので滅多に来ないのだが、近くにこれと言ったレストランやカフェがない時に、たまに魔が差して行ってしまうのだ。

We had lunch at Wagamama in N1 Shopping Centre, as we were around Angel station . Wagamama is a “pan-Asian” restaurant chain (according to its website), founded in 1992 by charismatic Hong Kong-born restauranteur Alan Yau, who also created the prestigious Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, as well as more casual Princi and Cha Cha Moon I wrote in this blog before. Their food, for my eyes, is below average, but with their concept to offer “healthy” “Japanese” food with affordable price, as well as its simple and modern interir with long tables and cool graphics, Wagamama has gained popularity across UK and now expands the chain to Europe, USA, and middle eastern countries.

The name is in Japanese (means “selfish”), and Japanese fast foods and noodles such as ramen, udon, yakisoba (fried noodle), Japanese curry, and gyoza dumplings are on their menu, but Wagamama is not really a “Japanese” restaurant or quite far from it – so please don’t believe what you eat there is what you eat in Japan. I can see some Chinese influence on their ingredients and cooking. Wagamama ramen M ordered (in the photo below £7.95), with mishmash, like grilled chicken, smooth dory, prawn, kamaboko, fried tofu, mushrooms, wakame and seasonal greens, menma and spring onions, on the top of mushy noodles and bland and flavorless broth. It didn’t seem to bother M, but I prefer to buy an instant noodle from Japanese grocery store for less than £1 and cook it myself. Deep fried Vegetable (sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash) and side salad on my yasai (vegetable) katsu curry is fine, but curry doesn’t have much taste and too little for the amount of rice – I tasted mainly rice but not curry much. Their food is Japanese fast food and equivalent to a hamburger or fish & chips and quite reasonable, but in somehow, Wagamama manages to make the dish a bit more posh. I rarely go to Wagamama because for me the price doesn’t match to the taste. However, if there is nothing decent nearby, and I craze for something Japanese-ish, I just give myself in to Wagamama…

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5 responses to “Wagamama @ N1 Islington, Angel

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