Sunday, 30 December 2007


Finding ourselves at Chermside after a long Sunday afternoon of shopping and movies, and not being bothered to cook anything when we got home, we wandered into Wagamama in the newish food court.

Having eaten in Wagamama restaurants around Australia and in London, I was pretty familiar with the drill. If you haven't eaten at Wagamama before, it's an international chain, serving Japanese food. There is a pretty standard menu, you sit at communal tables and the prices are generally reasonable. The staff take your orders with little hand held PDA type devices and also write bits and pieces on your placemat (so other staff know what you have ordered).

I've found Wagamama a bit hit and miss in the past. Last time we ate at Wagamama in Sydney one of our meals come with a rubber band hidden in the dish, which was an unexpected surprise. The staff there dealt with it really well, to their credit.

The menu is modelled on Japanese ramen bars. It covers ramen (noodles in soup), kare lomen (noodles in a coconut based soup), teppan (noodles cooked on a griddle), teriyaki, rice dishes, salads and side dishes.

I'm a big fan of their edamame ($4.50), which are incredibly addictive. We were shown to our seats, only to be quickly warned that quite a number of dishes were not available tonight, including the edamame and both the main course specials. So there was to be no edamame tonight.

Instead we ordered the sweet potato kusabi ($6). These were described on the menu as hand-cut chips served with basil and wasabi mayonnaise. We saw them sitting on the pass for about 5 minutes before they came to our table. Unfortunately they were terrible. First of all they were cold, and out of the 30 or so chips, about 5 of them were actually crunchy, the rest being soggy and just not cooked enough. As half cooked slices of sweet potato, with the mayonnaise, they tasted pretty good. But they weren't chips by any stretch of the imagination. At the end of the meal we asked the waitress if they were supposed to be served cold, and were told that they are cooked, but get cold very quickly. Next time we will definitely stick with the edamame, if its available.

Luckily, both our mains were very tasty. My chilli chicken ramen ($15.50) came in an enormous bowl, with loads of soup. The soup contained a big chunk of grilled chicken, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, beansprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime. It was spicy, tasty, fresh and had plenty of heat. It was also very filling, and I almost got through the whole bowl.

We also had the yasai cha han ($11.50), described as stir-fried rice with egg, snow peas, mushrooms, butternut pumpkin, sweetcorn, fried tofu and spring onion accompanied with a bowl of vegetarian miso soup and pickles. Again, it was a big serving. Once you poured the miso onto the rice, this was a really tasty dish. There was a good mix of flavours, with the crispy snow peas, mushrooms, plenty of corn and small pieces of pumpkin.

So once again, Wagamama was a bit up and down. The chips were terrible, but our mains were great.

Service is friendly and fairly informal. Most of the wait staff sit down at your table with you to take your order and answer any questions you might have about the menu.

Wagamama also has a small drinks menu. I had a glass of the home made lemon iced tea ($2.50) which was good. We also had one of the shikoku island iced tea ($5.60) which is basically iced tea with vodka. Be warned, these taste great and you can gulp them down very easily. Otherwise, you can order wine (sparkling, red and white), beer (including Asahi), soft drinks, juice, sake and plum wine. Green tea is free with a main course if you ask for it.

All up, Wagamama is an ok place for a quick Asian dinner. I would prefer to head into the Valley for an Asian restaurant with a bit more character, but that's just a personal preference. If you find yourself a long way from the Valley or your local Asian restaurant, as we did, then there is always Wagamama.

Although I've only supplied the details of the Chermside restaurant below, you can also find Wagamama at Emporium in the Valley and in the Wintergarden in the city.

What does all this mean? Well priced Japanese food from an international chain, served at communal tables.

food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - OK
Ambience - modern design, with communal tables
Value for Money - Good
Wine - OK
Vegetarian - OK

Parkland Pavillion
Westfield Chermside
Corner of Gympie & Hamilton Roads
Chermside 4032
P - 07 3350 3034
W -

wagamama (Westfield Shopping Centre) on Urbanspoon

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