Following a highly successful and busy branch on the always buzzing Triangle in Bristol,Wagamama have opened a new restaurant in The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.
Situated next door to Marks and Spencer’s on Level 1 and away from the main food hall the positioning is perfect, especially as while waiting to be seated you cannot help but notice the view from the enormous window which on the sunny early evening we visited was breath taking.
We are not quite sure how this has happened but this was our first visit to the chain, reports from friends who had visited various branches in the UK were positive and we were really looking forward to trying it out. For a Friday at 6pm it was nicely busy and we were quickly seated at our preferred location nearer the back of the restaurant on a table for four. Our orders were taken quickly, Edamame beans with Garlic and Chilli Salt to share and for our mains Katsu Chicken for me, while the heat levels of the Firecracker Chicken were discussed we achieved instant camaraderie with our fellow diners, as the gentlemen of the two couples either side of us urged our esteemed editor to go for it, how could she resist!
Our tap water and shared large bottle of Tiger arrived lightening fast, closely followed by our Edamame beans, which were as they should be and a welcome nibble as we waited for our mains. Mine arrived first, a glistening just fried crispy and deliciously moist chicken breast, topped with sticky rice and the gorgeous sauce. Flavour wise its reminiscent of the best chip shop curry sauce you have ever had but with a slight kick of chilli and much more complex flavour, the accompanying dressed salad and red pickles were perfect, adding a welcome freshness to the dish, that enabled me to scoff the lot!
As explained by our waitress everything is cooked to order dishes arrive when they are ready, a few minutes later the much talked about Firecracker chicken arrived, I was quickly handed the dried to chilli’s to spice up my dish a bit and try and match the heat levels. Well it certainly lived up to its name, we have spent a good few years building up a heat tolerance and I can confirm this dish is hot! However do not let this put you off ordering it, the sauce is so full of flavour, the chicken was cooked perfectly and vegetables offered crunch and texture and the again perfectly cooked sticky rice rounded the dish off with a much needed cooling element. Feeling stuffed but unable to pass it by the sweet ginger and apple gyoza dumplings were calling my name and I loved them, I wasn’t expecting an apple, custard and cinnamon option but my favourite familiar flavours were given an Asian twist that really worked.
The food had been fantastic and delivered on all fronts but a really important element to the dining out experience is the service, many a great meal has been spoiled by lacklustre or rude service and it would have been impossible to write this review without mentioning our waitress, interestingly named Asia, she was friendly, fun, helpful and most of all just seemed to love what she was doing, which was infectious and made our evening. As a credit to Wagamama and the individuals I don’t think she was alone, as we experienced another example of small actions that really make a difference, a member of staff was clearing the table next to us and noticing that we had finished, stopped immediately and took our plates away. I think it’s all too easy for restaurant chains to be dismissed but all in with an extra small beer the bill came to just over £36.00 which together with the first class service offered such amazing value, when we have paid 3 or 4 times as much for food and service no where near to this standard.
We cannot wait to go back and work our way through the menu, although resisting the temptation to repeat our choices above and make new firecracker friends will be difficult!