I caveat this review by admitting that I am a huge fan of Wagamama’s. I remember the first time I visited one of their chains in London, and it was so novel then that you were put on tables with long benches and had to sit next to complete strangers. Even in London, it meant you may have even sparked up a bit of a conversation with the person sat next to you – heaven forbid! Oh my, I sound old now reading that back 🙁
But, so many years later, I still love it. Not just the informality of it, but the food, which is packed with flavour whilst still being a relatively fast food type of operation. You’re not promised your food at the same time but that’s just tough. It’s almost like the pioneer of street food, without actually being on the street.
We visited the newly opened Wagamama’s in the Bridgend McArthurGlenn Designer Outlet Village, on a busy Saturday in November. At around 1 o’clock without booking we were told that there was a 15 minute waiting time. With three kiddies in tow it wasn’t ideal to wait, so we gave them our name and headed back after 15 minutes. The table still wasn’t ready when we returned, but we only had to wait for 5 minutes so that wasn’t bad at all.
The restaurant is housed at the cinema side of the outlet centre, and has taken up two retail fronts / outlets. Once you enter, you completely forget that you are in a shopping centre, its feels like you are in a restaurant which could be anywhere. It has an open kitchen, with some tables for two right next to it where if the date isn’t going well you can look at the action in the kitchen. It has a bar area where you can wait, and then the main part of the restaurant which has the usual social tables and then some booths on the side.
There’s lots of rustic brickwork, warming wood and low lighting and the whole place is just so atmospheric and welcoming.
It also quite noisy, with a buzzy atmosphere and plenty of chatter, which means that as a family you’re less on guard, as the sometimes unwelcome sounds of your own slightly wingey children, are thankfully are drowned out!
Children are also well catered for. They are given colouring in crayons and an activity sheet with colouring and word search etc as soon as they are seated. They didn’t give my 17 month year old a colouring sheet, but when I asked (as she was feeling left out) they were very quick to accommodate.
It’s not like the Pizza Express childrens menu of 3 courses, it’s more in line with adult ordering, where you order each course individually. We were only stoping for lunch, so we just wanted one course each. My youngest son opted for mini chicken katsu, which was breaded chicken, served with shredded carrot and cucumber, sweetcorn and sticky rice, with a side of katsu curry sauce.
My eldest son opted for the mini chicken yaki soba, which was noodles with chicken, egg, sweetcorn, mange tout, peppers and amai sauce.
The verdict from both, was that it was very tasty. It was all scoffed down for sure!
My husband chose the surendra’s curry, which was a hot and spicy curry with chicken and topped with sweet potato straws and steamed rice on the side. He thought it was really tasty, lots of tender chicken in a creamy spicy sauce with an aniseed flavour coming through. if anything, he said it could have been spicier.
I opted for the chicken itame, which was rice noodles and chicken in a green coconut and lemongrass soup with beansprouts, bok choi and peppers. It had a bit of a kick to it, I would have preferred more chilli, but then I probably should have opted for one of the spicier options. It was packed with plenty of chicken and vegetables and had a subtle but tasty flavour, but overall could have packed a bigger punch on both spice and flavour. It was nice, but it didn’t make me go ‘mmmmm’.
There was plenty of it and I couldn’t finish it, so my eldest ended up polishing it off (I’m going to have to start ordering him adult portions soon!). I was surprised that he could handle the spice, but he did manage it pretty easily, even though he did down his class of water after.
We didn’t want deserts, we were on a mission to get some shopping done, so we paid for the bill. We did this using the QKR! app to pay, which meant we didn’t have to ask for the bill, we just got a code, it was checked by the waiter and then we paid on the phone. Pretty easy and meant for a quicker exit.
All in all, I really enjoyed it there and I would certainly return and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to families looking for a spot of lunch during shopping or before or after a trip to the cinema. It is exactly what a Wagamama promises to be, food for the soul. Warming, tasty bowls of asian inspired soups to warm you up on a cold days shopping.
Family Friendly Rating: *****
High Chairs – Yes
Baby Changing –Yes
Childrens Menu – Yes
Smaller Portions Available – ?
Other Info: Children are given crayons and activity sheets to keep them entertained. They also have child friendly chopsticks
Address: Units 94+95 McArthurGlen Bridgend, CF32 9SU
Tel: 01656 760674