That's right, Wagamama. It's a British based, Japanese inspired, pan-asian chain of restaurants located mainly in Europe (there are two in the US, both in Boston). They serve fresh, affordable and delicious food in a casual and fun atmosphere. In Japanese, Wagamama means a 'naughty child'. Willful and determined, the child that is said to be 'wagamama' demands constant attention and is unable to comprehend why its desires cannot be instantly gratified. I suspect this is clearly where the brand gets some of its cheekier elements!
In my opinion, there is no better place to have a meal with friends, particularly on that first night in Europe when you're trying to beat the jet lag. It's bright, loud, fun and fast. I took a party of ten to the Wagamama in the Leidseplein area of Amsterdam last Sunday.
The menu is full of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai foods that you will probably be familiar with. They also serve beer, sake and wine. We ordered a lot of appetizers for the table to share, including: duck gyoza, ebi gyoza (shrimp stuffed), edamame (sprinkled with chilli garlic salt), yakitori and chilli squid. All arrived piping hot and were clearly made to order.
Having been to Wagamama locations in both London and Amsterdam before, I knew what I wanted for my main course. The chilli chicken ramen is a huge steaming bowl of noodles in a spicy chicken and pork soup topped with marinated and grilled chicken breast, beansprouts, red and spring onions and chillies and garnished with coriander and lime.
Love them or hate them, one of the usual strengths of chain restaurants is the consistency of the food from visit to visit. The broth in this dish was the same deep flavored, spicy, soul satisfying mixture that I remembered. It was perfect for a cold night along the canals. The chicken remained tender and juicy.
I managed to shoot pictures of a couple of the other mains around me:
The chicken katsu curry
and the chilli men with prawns
both looked and smelled delicious.
There have been rumors of a Wagamama opening in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC for almost two years now. If anyone from corporate is reading this, what are you waiting for?
P.S. Sorry about the quality of the pictures. Didn't realize they were so poor until I went to load them.