Wagamama. Japanese food on the quick.

his wasn’t our first time at Wagamama, but I was reminded this time why we don’t go there too often. It’s typical mechanical Japanese food done quite well, but it isn’t certainly the best place to savor the delicate flavors of Japan. We went there on  Friday for lunch, and it did get busy fairly quickly.
We started with edamame (steamed soy bean, dusted with salt), which just didn’t stand up to some other Japanese or Korean places that do edamame well. This starter green was chewy and tough at times, but you only sift through to get the inside beans anyways. We also had the steamed gyoza, which were rather good (the 5-poriton one).

For or mains, we had the teriyaki chicken dhonburi – teriyaki glazed grilled chicken, carrots peas, green onions with sesame seeds and a yakitori sauce. served on rice and a very tiny portion of kimchee on the side. It was a it too much on the sweet side, because teriyaki is really a fine balance, and you get it wrong, and sometimes it comes out like a dessert. Overall, it was ok, and the portion was fairly big.

We also had the wagamama seafood ramen. This is noodles in a very large bowl of soup, with salmon. white fish, grilled prawns, squid, greens, green onion. This humongous bowl is going to strike the right note with seafood lovers – you can literally small the ocean as the steaming bowl is presented before you. It does look delicious and inviting, and would probably be amazing on a cold winter’s day. But it is very, very, very fishy. The broth is tasty, the seafood bits (specially the grilled prawns) however entirely lose any flavor and are rather tasteless because the broth just totally overpowers it. Nah, doesn’t work.

Every one on this page has raved about the katsu curry. It was good. Not to die for though. Japanese is not really about curry, although katsu is a popular dish. It is a breaded cutlet of chicken (in Japan, they use pork mostly) in a mild curry sauce. And, folks, the art of the dish is in the breaded cutlet – getting the pieces just right – crispy and golden on the outside and juicy and tended on the inside. It’s not about the glob of curry. Do not think curry as in Indian, Thai or even British. Katsu curry is like a thick dark sauce, and has very little by way of spices and intense flavor. I guess it just adds to the breaded cutlet. Anyway, the chicken katsu curry is a decent sized portion at Wagamama’s, and it is pretty good and is served over sticky rice. topped with green leaves and japanese pickles.

The place is filled with a lot of British expats, and if you read through some of the reviews, you’ll understand why – you get Wagamama here in Dubai (rather a favorite hot spot in London) at half the price, almost.  Reading through the earlier reviews, I guess I am the only one who hasn’t raved about Wagamama Dubai. Either I had a bad day (actually it wasn’t just me, but family) or I have a penchant for a more refined palate on Japanese. Because…

The food at the Crowne Plaza Wagamama is OK. OK at best.