oh my lord. i am stuffed. totally full to the brim. with absolutely delicious food. i mean.. OMG-to-die-for-i’ve-gone-to-heaven food.

We’re just back from Wagamama‘s. We’ve had a lovely afternoon – although Sez and Chris got lost initially (the first time Chris had driven here) we had a quick drink, as it was so hot, then set off to Manchester city center in the car. We parked in one of the Manchester University carparks, on the other side of town from Wagamama’s (as its only £2 a day on saturday/sunday, other car parks are more expensive) and had a quick drink in a nearby pub before we headed across town to Wagamama’s.

Sez and Chris have now gone home – they have a 2 hour drive back, and both are at work in the morning, but Michiel and i are sat here, trying very hard not to move, just.. enjoying the afterglow of what was an almost perfect meal for us both, Michiel watching Top Gear (its the last episode of the series…. BOOO!)

We do both love asian food (well okay we love food period, but we both have an especial love of asian foods) so this was something very special for us. We’d downloaded the menu from the website last night, spent ages trying to decide what to have. Wagamama, according to wikipedia, can be translated from the japanese as meaning either naughty child or selfishness. Its not cheap, (well, its more expensive than say, Mcdonalds, probably on a par with your average pub chain) but its definetly worth it. its very casual – long sit down tables on benches, so they don’t encourage you to stay for hours – and there’s no concept of “starter then main” – you can order side dishes as a starter, but they won’t necessarily come before your main – food is cooked to order and delivered as soon as it hits the plate, so start eating when you get your food, don’t wait for your co-diners to get theirs.

Below the cut are photos of all the food we ate. I put it behind the cut because a) its image intensive and b) i don’t want to salivate every time i look at my blog. lol. oh, and i didn’t take these photos. I stupidly didn’t take the camera with me. (lesson learned: take the camera next time!). I found these from around the net – google images rock!

Michiel chose ebi katsu for his side dish – deep-fried black tiger prawns in panko breadcrumbs served with a spicy red chilli and garlic sauce garnished with a wedge of lime. This was lovely, although the chilli sauce had a real kick to it – if you’re not used to strong chilli flavours, i’d give this a miss.

Whereas i had tori kara age – deep-fried chicken pieces prepared with soy sauce, sake, mirin, dried oregano, thyme and a fresh ginger marinade. served with a chilli, garlic, sesame and soy sauce. This was lovely, although i do think the chicken could’ve done with being fried in breadcrumbs or something. if it wasn’t for the sauce this would’ve been a simple fried chicken dish, nothing amazingly special about it.. it was that dipping sauce that really lifted it and made it something a bit special.

and Chris and sez had yasai gyoza – five steamed, grilled vegetable dumplings filled with cabbage, carrots, water chestnut, onion, celery and chinese leaf, served with a sweet ginger dipping sauce. I did try a little bit, the dumplings themselves are very subtle, like with the chicken above, tis the sauce that really brings this dish alive. (I dunked a piece of tofu in there from my main course, and that was absolutely fantastic – if any cooks from wagamama’s are reading, do think about turning that dipping sauce into some kind of main meal with tofu, won’t you?)

Just to demonstrate about the whole – “you get your food when its cooked”, thing – Our side dishes arrived in the following order: one of Chris and Sez’s dumpling courses, then Michiel’s tiger prawns, then my fried chicken bits, then Chris’s main, Michiel’s main, my main, the other one of Chris and Sez’s side dish and then Sez’s main!

For the main, Michiel chose chilli beef ramen – noodles in a spicy pork and chicken soup topped with a grilled sirloin steak, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, beansprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime. A word of warning to anyone eating from the ramen menu – the bowls of soup/noodle are fairly large, and you do need big appetites to manage a whole bowl of this and a side dish. Michiel managed it, but it was a heroic effort (and he didn’t have a proper pudding). Having said that, it was gorgeous, the beef was beautifully cooked, tender, and the chilli packed a real punch. The soup had real body – although it was thin, it wasn’t short on the flavour stakes.. well worth every penny of the £10+ it cost.

I had amai udon – udon noodles with a sweet tamarind sauce, teppan-fried with egg, fried tofu, prawns, red onions, leeks and beansprouts topped with crushed roasted peanuts and a wedge of lime. This was absolutely gorgeous. Its only the second time i’ve had tofu, the previous time Sez cooked it for me (i have to say, i think her’s was cooked a little better) but the prawns and noodles and sauce really made up for the slight chewiness of the tofu. i would definetly eat this again, really really nice.

Sez had yasai yaki soba – teppan-fried wholewheat noodles with egg, butternut squash, white and spring onions, garlic, mushrooms, green and red     peppers and beansprouts, garnished with mixed sesame seeds, fried shallots, pickled ginger and coriander vinegar. I didn’t try any of this, but its very similar to mine.

and Chris had yasai cha han – stir-fried rice with egg, mangetout, sweetcorn, butternut squash, fried tofu, spring onions, shiitake and white mushrooms accompanied by a bowl of miso soup and pickles (I think, anyway). it looked lovely – i was tempted to try this, and i may well do so next time.

For our desserts, sez had white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. This was lovely – if you like ginger, you will like this. you don’t really taste the chocolate, its not overpoweringly sickly sweet, the way that say, chocolate fudge cake is, its just an added smoothness to it, it really was lovely. Having said that, i preferred mine, Sez preferred hers, so it all worked out okay in the end up.

I had a raspberry and tamaraind pavlova with a wonderfully intense raspberry sauce. this was OMG to die for, although, i will say, i thought they put too much raspberry sauce on. Its a very intensely flavoured sauce, and with too much you run the risk of wrecking the balance between the sweetness and lightness of the pavlova, and the intenseness of the sauce. You know how your mouth goes all blah and furry after too many raspberries? Same thing. Having said that i suppose its an intensely personal judgement, that balance, and i’m sure if they put less on someone else would be complaining that it wasn’t enough. *shug*.

and Chris had a strawberry icelolly (complete with a small, frozen strawberry set in the lolly!). Michiel contented himself with a bottle of sake, which he adores. I do like the way that Wagamama combines spices with their deserts – also on offer was a chocolate fudge cake that had wasabi in it, which sounded lovely, but also a little too heavy after such a huge meal – next time i may well try that.

So, to sum up?

I’ve had a lovely day. I’m on cloud nine right now. We’ll be eating baked beans for a week to pay for this, but i don’t care. It was wonderful, and what we both needed, company with some great friends (thankyou, both of you), and some wonderful food… its really given me a kick in terms of beating the depression back for this cycle 🙂

(and yes. We’re going to Wagamama’s again. Don’t know when.. don’t know where, but.. we’ll dine there again… someee…. dayyyyyyy!)