Wagamama


On Saturday night, I tried out Wagamama for the first time. Dave is a big fan of Japanese food and had been wanting to try it for some time. Japanese food is quite honestly not my favorite (I know, this is unusual). There are only a few items that I really like, but I am always curious to try new places.


From what I had heard about Wagamama, I expected that you would order at the counter and take your food to your table. It turns out Wagamama has table service, but a very casual one at that. A server came by to ask for our drink orders and immediately started scribbling on our paper placemats. That is apparently how they keep track of orders. We started out with green tea, which comes complimentary. It was real green tea, made with loose tea leaves and served in attractive painted cups.

Dave ordered the absolute wagamama which comes with your choice of chicken ramen, or pan-fried noodles, along with three chicken dumplings and a small beer or fresh juice. The combo, at $14 is a great value. The entrees alone are enormous and cost around $10 to $11. For an extra few dollars, you get both a small appetizer and a beverage.

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The dumplings were pan-fried and served with a spicy chili, garlic and soy dipping sauce. The dipping sauce really added a lot of flavor to the dumplings, which were tender with a nice crispy outside. A small but satisfying appetizer, especially considering the size of the entree.

The bowl of chicken ramen was enormous, with a heaping pile of noodles, sliced grilled chicken breast, baby spinach, and menma, which are simmered bamboo shoots, in a steaming chicken broth. I was very amused that they give you a ladle to aid in your slurping. Dave thoroughly enjoyed his ramen, which had a varied and satisfying mix of textures and flavors. The chicken was tender, the noodles were cooked perfectly and all of the ingredients tasted extremely fresh. He did wish that the broth were flavored a little more strongly. When it came time to slurp up the last of the contents, it tasted like a generic chicken soup rather than distinctly of ramen.

I ordered the yasai yaki soba which was teppan-fried whole wheat noodles with egg, button and shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, bean sprouts, peppers, red onion, scallions, and garlic, garnished with sesame seeds, fried shallots, pickled red ginger and cilantro vinegar. I am not fond of shitake mushrooms and I never seem to like any mushrooms in Asian food. This dish tasted exceedingly mushroom-y and a tad bland. I would have preferred a little more acid, salt, or spice. I did very much enjoy the pickled ginger and sesame seeds on top. Dave happened to love this dish. I do wish that the vegetables were in bigger chunks and not minuscule shavings. This might be par for the course for Japanese food, but I prefer noodle dishes to have large discernible chunks of vegetables.

Service was interesting, but not in a bad way. All of the waiters appeared to be college students or just out of college, not surprising for a restaurant right in Harvard Square. Some of them were a tad aloof, but I was very happy with one of our servers in particular. Dave received his ramen very quickly after ordering. After a few minutes had passed and my meal still had not come, he remarked that the menu states that they bring the dishes out as they are ready so that you receive your dish freshly cooked. A server came over though when she noticed my empty place mat and said that she would check on mine. She came back shortly after with my dish and explained that the dish is very popular and the kitchen has received a slew of orders for it. I was not ravenous, so I did not mind the wait, but I was very pleased with the attention from our server. Though the cuisine is not quite my cup of tea, I would definitely recommend Wagamama to anyone who does like Japanese food.

57 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA
Wagamama on Urbanspoon

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12 Responses to Wagamama

  1. Di says:

    I went, a few years ago, to the Wagamama in Faneuil Hall and really enjoyed it. I’m sorry your dinner didn’t do it for you. :(

  2. Daisy says:

    Great review! I love Wagamama. I’ve only gone to the one on Faneuil Hall. When Adam and i went we had a simmilar meal! Pork dumplings, Salmon ramen and we drank Kirin Beer. Sorry you weren’t a fan of your noodles!

  3. funandfearlessinbeantown says:

    I fell in love with Wagamama when I studied abroad in England and I was super excited when they came to Boston. They are one of my firm’s clients and MA surprisingly has their own US locations. I go to the one at Fanueil Hall on cold winter days to warm up with their ramen and my friends like it because there is a good selection of vegetarian options!

  4. Linda says:

    The food looks fabulous. I want to eat the photos!

  5. Emily says:

    It is such a tragedy that I have yet to eat here since it is so close to where I work. Good to know about the mushrooms in the soba… I’m not a fan and would be bummed to see them in there. Great review!

  6. Liz says:

    It’s great to see pictures and a review of the Harvard location. I visited a few years ago in Dublin and always thought it would work well in a heavily student-populated area (reasonably priced, healthy, beer selection…). Thanks for the review, I plan to visit soon!

  7. I haven’t been to a Wagamama in the US yet, but your photos make it look like something I want to eat soon! That bowl of hot noodles looks like just the thing for this weather.
    I had heard the service in the one in Faneuil Hall was awful, so I would be curious to check out both to compare.

  8. Melissa says:

    I love Wagamama! There was one across the street from us when we lived in London and when it opened in Boston I was so excited! The value meal is a great deal! Casual noodle bar is just my thing.

  9. Megan says:

    I keep wanting to go here. I love huge noodle bowls like that! And I also thought you’d have to go up and order. Nice to know there is table service. I think I read they are opening 650 more locations across the US.

  10. I love Wagamama. I live across the street and often go there for take-out. I kinda wanna go there tonight actually haha

  11. Pingback: Wagamama | Free Food Boston | Collection of Asian Food Recipes

  12. Alicia says:

    I love Wagamama, but I do feel like the food is a little hit or miss. Can’t go wrong for the price. And the big bowl of ramen is great with this COLD weather!!

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