Monday, August 13, 2007


When we were touring around Australia last year, we kept seeing signs for "wagamama." Considering where we were, I thought it was another Aussie place with an Aboriginal name--like Woolloomooloo or Uluru. Turns out, though, that wagamama is a British-based restaurant chain inspired by Japanese noodle bars. Leave it to me, I wasn't adventurous enough to actually hit a noodle bar in Tokyo or Osaka, but after seeing it in Australia, I was suddenly fired up, probably since the menu was in English. We didn't get to go in Australia, but I was happy when wagamama opened its first U.S. restaurant in Boston at Quincy Market.

The weather was nice last Thursday, and we wanted to sit outside, so we gave wagamama a try. It wasn't too crowded, but most of the outside seats were filled up. The seats are similar to long picnic tables, so we were put across from each other at the end of one of the tables. Another couple was at the other end with two seats in between, which eventually got filled up. If you're looking for some privacy with your meal, this may not be the place for you.

Most of the items on the menu are noodle dishes, which include either soba (thin) noodles or udon (thick) noodles. I had the teriyaki steak soba, slices of steak over thin noodles. According to The Boston Globe, wagamama added this item to the menu for the Boston location, and I'm glad they did because it was excellent. As a side dish (don't call them appetizers, presumably because they come with the meal and not bef0re) the tori kara age (deep-fried chicken prepared with soy sauce) was really good, too. Beer choices were a blend of Boston and Japan, with Asahi (available in a 22 oz. bottle), Kirin, and Sam Adams.

The waitstaff places orders on a handheld computer so that it gets to the kitchen ASAP. The food is served quickly also. While the computers are high-tech, the waitstaff use a decidedly low-tech method— chalk on the table— to note the numbers that correspond to your orders, so that the food is delivered to the right location.

According to their web site, today is opening day for wagamama's Harvard Square location, so you may want to check them out there as well.

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