There are some things in life that are a right of passage. Things like your first smooch. Passing your driving test. Holidays with the girls (or boys). All these things are as much a part of the journey through life as breathing. There is another thing that has been added to this list in recent years. Eating at Wagamama’s. It seems, you cannot really say you have lived through the years 20 something, unless you have eaten a Wagamama Katsu Curry. Well, I need to tell you something. I am Kerry, I have never set foot inside a Wagamama. Let us just take a moment to let that sink in… We ready to move past this? Ok. In my defence, I did not realise there was such a thing as a Wagamama vegan menu. So, when they invited me in to experience their extended vegan menu for Veganuary, you could have knocked me over with tempura broccoli stem! It was a whole new world. Let’s discuss..
My meal and experience at Wagamama was complimentry. However, I was under no obligation to write this post. The vegan menu was so good though, I wanted to share!
So it would seem, I have been hiding under a rock. Wagamama have actually had a vegan menu for over a year! Not a vegetarian menu with two token choices for us plant eaters, but an entire menu! Who knew! The restaurant chain has also introduced some innovative new dishes, just for veganuary. Dehydrated water melon anyone?? (dont pre-judge, it was blooming gorgeous). We were invited in to the Thurrock Lakeside (in Essex) venue to sample what was on offer. I could not have been more excited!
Firstly, one of the senior chefs, Liam, and the manager Jake talked us through the menu. I loved the excitement that Liam had for the food he cooks. That is always so good to see in a restaurant, but often lacking in bigger chains. He was so keen to cook the new food for us, urging us to try a variety! Jake was giving us suggestions. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I was excited to try the menu! The Wagamama vision with the vegan menu is that meat free should definitely not mean taste free. A beautiful sonnet of music to my vegan ears!
The Wagamama Vegan Menu – Plenty of Choice!
The side dish choices, (you can also have them as starters) are plentiful, and apparently a few Wagamama tried and tested favourites are on it. Bang Bang Cauliflower, wok fried greens and steamed dumplings to name but a few. Yum! Our table chose a selection so we could see a variety.
At the suggestion of our knowledgeable server, Maria, I chose the buns. Honestly, the vegan version of the mushroom hirata buns were one of the nicest things I have eaten! I had never had them, or similar before, so it was all new to me. The buns were light and fluffy, and how I imagine eating clouds would be. Bit weird? Filled with tasty mushrooms and a vegan coriander mayo, they were delicious. Other sides we chose were tempura vegetables, (the lightest tempura coating, made with sparkling water) bang bang cauliflower, (packs a spicy punch) and udon noodles.
For my main dish, I took the recommendation from one of the other bloggers. She recommended a Katsu Curry. Slices of vegetables in light crispy breadcrumbs, rich sauce and a generous helping of sticky rice. It was out of this world.
Also a popular choice as a few of us went for it! We also had a serving of the limited edition choice that has been added to the menu for veganuary. Remember the dehydrated watermelon I mentioned? Well here it was. Vegan Suika “tuna”. I promise you, it was totally unexpected how gorgeous it was!
A dehydrated watermelon steak was served, seasoned and lightly seared in a wok. Placed on a bed of sticky rice, it was then dressed with all kinds of deliciousness. Tenderstem brocoli, seared kale, avocado and tofu guacamole and pickled radish made for a colourful plate of yumminess. It was also very healthy too, coming in at around 700 calories. We were all a little dubious about how this dish would work. But it just does! It is inventive and different, and I love the effort that has gone into the Wagamama vegan menu. It is amazing!
Now, the only thing that we all found a little random, was the vegan eggs. They are served on the Avant Gard’d dish, and Im not gonna lie, they were weird. Very inventive, and made from coconut, with a sriracha “yolk” they looked like a boiled egg cut in half. Now, it could have been because they looked so egg like, but I expected them to be warm. They were cold. This I think surprised me, and I felt maybe it affected my judgement of how I felt about them. They tasted nice enough, but my head could not wrap itself around the texture.
If you are familiar with Wagamama, you would know the following already. The love to feed you! The portions are very generous, and I could not eat all of my main. Thankfully, my youngest son had got off the train from work at Lakeside, so I called him in as reserve. Finley is not vegan, but he helped me out and ate the rest of my curry. He was really impressed and sang its praises. High praise indeed from my carnivore youngest son.
Moving on to dessert, (come on now, this is me, of course I am going to squeeze in a bit of cake), the options were fewer, but equally amazing. The choices were chocolate and orange blossom ice cream, strawberry and yuzi ice cream, and the mango and match layer cake of dreams! There was also a sorbet choice. We had all of the options on the table to try. I am not an ice cream fan usually, but the strawberry ice cream was like a frozen strawberry milkshake. It was amazing! The cake was hands down my favourite, (my love of cake is legendary so no surprises there). It was so light and tasty, and just the right amount of sweetness. The perfect ending to this amazing meal.
I often prefer to eat eat in totally vegan restaurants, (Oak Tree Essex, one of my faves) as the choices are always abundant. However, the Wagamama vegan menu impressed me no end. I was spoilt for choice, which is so rare when you are in a chain eatery. I will 100% be going back with Nik and the boys. Those mushroom cloud buns have infiltrated my dreams since so I need them in my life on the regular…….
I would love to know if it is just me that did not know Wagamama had such a vast vegan menu? Make me feel better, tell me you did not know either?? My fellow vegans, or just plant curious people, (that is my new made up term by the way) I would love to know if you have tried anything off of the Wagamama vegan menu? If so, what did you think? Are you as surprised as me at how much choice there is?? Let me know what you think.