Established in 1992, it's a wonder I didn't discover Wagamama sooner. Since experiencing their japanese-inspired cuisine for the first time last year after a search to find somewhere accessible and not-too-expensive in the UK to get some good ramen, it has become my go-to restaurant of choice. So, naturally, when I was contacted asking if I would like to preview their new Autumn/Winter menu before it hit the restaurants, I excitedly accepted the invitation.
Not knowing quite what to expect of the evening, me and my momma headed down to my familiar Liverpool restaurant and were promptly seated at a long table along with a few other bloggers and press, where we were greeted by pre-opened bottles of water and wine. Throughout the night we were chatted to and asked if we were enjoying our meals by the ever-lovely staff which I think always adds a nice touch to the dining experience. Prior to the evening I had guessed that we were going to be able to pick a couple of dishes from the menu to try, but little did we know that we were actually in for quite a feast. Wagamama has eight new dishes and two new drinks coming to their menu this Autumn/Winter, and I got to try them all.
Pulled Pork Gyoza
With the chicken, duck and yasai gyozas being a Wagamama favourite, it only made sense that a new variation was added to the menu for Autumn/Winter, and this year, pork is making its debut. Steamed dumplings filled with melt-in-your-mouth, slow-cooked barbecue pork, these were delicious served with a spiced black vinegar and ginger sauce and would really help to hit the spot whilst waiting for your main meal.
Mahi Mahi Curry
After demolishing the somewhat light gyozas, it was time for a whole hoard of main dishes. The first dish was one that is brand new to the Wagamama menu and is perfect for anybody who fancies fish rather than red meat or chicken- the Mahi Mahi Curry. Whilst the grilled fillet of white mahi fish was cooked to perfection, my favourite part of this dish was actually the soft, diced sweet potatoes which complimented the mildly spicy curry sauce perfectly. As this dish is quite light, we were also served a side of Wok-Fried Greens. Simply a plate of tender-stem broccoli and pak choi combined with garlic and soy sauce, it was a perfect addition to the curry and added amazing flavour.
Next up was my usual dish of choice; ramen. With a nice selection of flavours already on the menu, I have always thought that these huge, hearty bowls of ramen noodles and broth were perfect for warming you up in the colder months, and this time Wagamama are giving you even more choice by adding duck and mushroom variations to the menu. Being a big fan of Asian duck dishes, this was definitely my favourite of the two- the grilled, boneless duck leg was tender with a slightly crispy skin. I still really enjoyed the mushroom ramen, however, and it is a perfect choice for vegetarians with a generous helping of five different types of mushrooms including oyster, chestnut and shiitake, with few cubes of tofu thrown in for good measure.
I know I just spoke about my loyalty to ramen but after trying this dish I may be a little unfaithful. This one has been on the menu in previous years and is back again due to popular demand and I can see why! A bowl of creamy coconut and lemongrass soup mixed with a combination of ramen noodles, stringed cucumber and beanspouts and topped with grilled chicken or prawns (I tried both- I can't pick a favourite!), this dish is both moreish yet super filling and has a nice spicy kick to it, making it perfect for when it is cold outside. One that I will definitely going back for, again and again and again.
Half Moon Pancakes
After a short rest to let the main meals go down, we were served the course that I always have room for- dessert. Wagamama are adding a festive touch to their menu with warm, freshly prepared folded pancakes with a tangy date and orange paste hidden inside. Accompanied by a scoop of smooth and sweet cinnamon ice cream to compliment the sharpness of the paste (I would also suggest ordering a hot chocolate, too!), this dessert will definitely get you in to that Christmas spirit!
I forgot to take photos of them, but like I mentioned earlier, Wagamama are introducing two new drinks for Autumn and Winter. The first is a Beetroot, Orange and Carrot juice, which definitely has an acquired taste- I wasn't a huge fan at first, as, with most drinks that contain beetroot I found it quite over-powering, but helped along by the food it became a lot less poignant. The second is exclusive to Wagamama as they are the first to bring this Asian beverage to the UK- Iki Beer. I have never liked the taste of beer so I didn't finish this, but it was quite light and I found it interesting that it was infused with green tea leaves- Healthy beer? Any excuse!
So, now that I have made your mouths water (and mine!), here is where I have to disappoint you. The Autumn/Winter menu isn't going to hit restaurants until October 22, but that's only a week away! For now, you will have to ogle over the delicous-looking pictures that I took at the preview, or even head to Wagamama to get your last taste of their Summer menu before it gets taken away- I'm going to miss those beef summer rolls! You can check out the menu and find your nearest restaurant at the Wagamama website.
What is your favourite Wagamama dish? Which of the new dishes are you most looking forward to trying?
*DISCLOSURE: This was a PR event, and I was kindly treated to a delicious complimentary meal!