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Restaurant Review: Wagamamas

By johnboy 21 November 2008 28

[First filed: November 20, 2008 @ 16:09]

Wagamama on Bunda St in Civic is a strange beast.

High price global restaurant chains rarely appear in Canberra. Having been there for lunch yesterday I can see why.

This is not to say it’s bad. It was perfectly agreeable in every way.

Amongst it’s admirable qualities is a bar at the front of house where you can wait for your party to arrive before taking a seat.

They serve Japanese working man’s food in a Japanese working man’s setting, that is bench tables with different groups sharing a table.

There’s nothing wrong with that either.

Where it falls down is the price. The “Wagamama Ramen” pictured was a bit bland (late in the meal I was offered an excellent chili oil which could have made all the difference) and mostly featured re-heated bits in an innocuous noodle soup.

Reasonable value at $12.50 in a lot of places around town. But for $18.50 it just seemed a bit steep.

Two mains, two sides (un-remarkable gyoza dumplings), a sprite, two beers and we had a bill for $80. And it just wasn’t that special for that kind of money.

If it was a cheap eat their philosophy of “we serve it in the order we make it” might make sense, but for this money I’d like them to sort the kitchen out too.

The problem for them is that here in Canberra we’re spoilt for choice by excellent asian eateries.

I realise they’re different things, but there’s any number of restaurants doing a pho in this town that walk all over it. The noodle house at the Dickson Tradies is probably superior in some ways at least, and at nearly half the price.

Location might make it a good choice for a Civic business lunch (although depending on what you’re discussing the bench tables might be a problem), but for mine they just don’t do enough for the money.


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Restaurant Review: Wagamamas
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Meconium 9:04 pm 21 Nov 08

Why hasn’t anyone complained about the unnecessary pluralisation of the name yet? The title of this thread is “Wagamamas”!

p.s. G-Fresh and Juice Terry… well said

fabforty 5:04 pm 21 Nov 08

I have only been to Wagamama once – and that was enough. The service was appalling. There was only three of us and after waiting 40 minutes for our meal, they all came out seperately at 10-15 minute intervals and one of them was wrong. What was more astounding was that this was very early in the evening and there was only about a dozen or so other diners there. We asked for water three times before any was brought out. For some reason only two glasses were finally brought out, then we asked for a third, three more arrived.

The food was only so-so. Mine was OK but my friends were very disappointed. I can’t work out how they are still in business.

Go Sammy’s !

Woody Mann-Caruso 12:48 pm 21 Nov 08

Ripoff merchants. $20 for watery ramen? I’ll make my own, thanks, or settle for udon at Sizzle Bento.

poptop 12:24 pm 21 Nov 08

And their vending machines! 😯

deye 12:10 pm 21 Nov 08

G-Fresh said :

Food in Japan is nothing like this crap. And service in Japan is good but lousy service like you get at Waga’s in Canberra should be enough for all not to go.

“They serve Japanese working man’s food in a Japanese working man’s setting” rofl a Jappo working persons food is like what you get at a Ramen bar. Not Teriyaki chicken/tuna/whatevs

Service for practically everything in Japan is better than here. The airport in particular is a real eye openner. 20 minutes from landing on an international flight to out the door on the way to your destination. Fly into Sydney and it’s 40 before you even see your bag.

and the food, the food over there is divine, even the fast food.

farnarkler 9:16 am 21 Nov 08

c’mon, the aborigines eat witchety grubs. What’s wrong with a little insect in the diet?

tylersmayhem 8:59 am 21 Nov 08

I stopped going there when they brought my friend’s salad out and it had maggots in it. I’m not kidding.

Errr, you just reminded me of a visit I had there a few months back and a green caterpillar or grub was amongst the steamed soy beans we ordered. I handed the other half of the bug back and asked them politely not to charge me for the dish.

At least the caterpillar was par-cooked.

Roma 7:27 am 21 Nov 08

I have been to the waga’s in Sydney a couple of times for work lunches and hated the place for all of the reasons stated above. As a result I have never considered going to the one in Civic. Thanks for the review – it confirms what I already suspected!

nomnomnom 7:15 am 21 Nov 08

Yeah, I was really dissapointed when I went there – I’ve been 3 times I think, and everytime they’ve taken ages, made mistakes and the food has been dissapointing.

In other news, I believe that the asian at Dickson Tradies has just reopened and has a new chef. Fingers crossed he/she is good!

farnarkler 6:36 am 21 Nov 08

Wagamamas is nothing more than a hip place to see and be seen at. The food is nothing special (go to the Asian Cafe for that) and is overpriced. If you know the owners of Happys well enough, they’ll make anything Wagamamas has and charge you less.

Here in London, Wagamamas is for people who know nothing about decent noodle houses.

Juice Terry 2:35 am 21 Nov 08

The food at Wagamamas isnt that great when you compare it to the more authentic experience you get at some of the noodle houses around town that are run by real live Johnny Foreigners, but it’s not terrible. I can’t really see the need for the place in Australia when their type of food is done better and more cheaply by absolutely everyone… but there certainly is a place for Wagamamas and that is here in Scotland! Since I’ve been living here in chilly jockland, I have been a regular frequenter of Wagamamas Glasgow and it’s a welcome oasis of vaguely fresh asian food where the only other option is very badly done Chinese. So yeah, I totally see where the other commenters are coming from when talking about their UK experience.

AussieGal83 11:00 pm 20 Nov 08

I stopped going there when they brought my friend’s salad out and it had maggots in it. I’m not kidding.

G-Fresh 10:42 pm 20 Nov 08

Food in Japan is nothing like this crap. And service in Japan is good but lousy service like you get at Waga’s in Canberra should be enough for all not to go.

“They serve Japanese working man’s food in a Japanese working man’s setting” rofl a Jappo working persons food is like what you get at a Ramen bar. Not Teriyaki chicken/tuna/whatevs

Seriously hilarious review.

shiny flu 8:04 pm 20 Nov 08

I think you were being too kind in your review.

Wagamama’s food is complete crap!

Anybody who thinks that their food is good doesn’t understand nor can appreciate real Asian food – in the same way people love honey/sweet & sour prawns… food adapted for Westerners that can’t step 2cm away from meat and 3 veg.

The Wagamama concept (at least in Canberra) are for those who like to keep up appearances and with disposable taste buds- errr, income. It’s like paying ridiculous prices for standard/bland/average food, with Cafe Essen service, in a slightly-nicer-than-your-average food-court setting. Woot.

ogrex 7:09 pm 20 Nov 08

Well the 2-for-1 coupons come out every month it seems (we got on the mailing list at some point) and for that reason alone we go. I find the ramen to be tasty and the veggies fresh enough. I enjoy Sammy’s, Happy’s, etc. but generally find them to be heavier on oils than Wag fare.

I’ve had the salmon more times than I can count… and never had a problem.

Once we were in there and had to wait about 20 minutes for a seat. Service was slow but food was well prepared. Manager volunteered to comp our entire meal minus the drinks… without prompting.

Good, fair but not great.

hek62 6:51 pm 20 Nov 08

Oerpriced, slow service and bench seats…I can’t see why people rave about this place.

Holden Caulfield 6:48 pm 20 Nov 08

I’ve eaten there a few times, although not for about a year or so. Can’t say I’ve noticed the prices being too bad, but maybe they have increased???

I like it. Was almost going to go there for dinner tonight, but plan B won the day.

che 6:20 pm 20 Nov 08

Heres one
and I’m pretty sure the other time was back when Wagamamas first opened in Canberra (2004?), which will be on the old site.

Feebles 6:17 pm 20 Nov 08

Couldn’t agree more. My sister in London raves about Wagamama’s, but I just don’t see the appeal. I’d rather go to Sammy’s next door or the Noodle House on Northbourne. Wagamama’s food just seemed bland and mediocre, and crazily overpriced for what it was.

che 6:14 pm 20 Nov 08

From memory I think we’ve reviewed them 3 times on Riot now, and they all came out with pretty much the same message. Will try and find past stories but they might be on the old dead site.

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