It's Sunday night and I'm hanging out with some new London friends at our Asian dumpling-making party hosted by yours truly in lieu of the Lunar New Year, when I get a DM from @mysohotimes about a tasting menu at Wagamama Noodle Lab in Soho! I jump at the chance to try out Wagamama's new menu because I love Japanese street food and I wanted an excuse to try Wagamama for the first time since moving to London. I usually avoid chain restaurants because in the States, the larger the chain and the larger the restaurant, the food tends to be made in large batches and/or frozen food that's defrosted, and therefore the quality and flavor of the food goes down drastically.
With @Wagamama_uk being so popular in London, I felt the need to give it a chance at some point. That some point was today. With the tasting menu opening for patrons to try at 12:00pm, I made sure to arrive a few minutes early, which really was not necessary considering the majority of the line formed about 5 minutes before the doors opened. I'm not even sure if the majority of the people in line knew what the line was for, but I'm always glad to share food experiences with fellow foodies.
We were given one of three options to choose from: vegan BBQ corn "ribs", tori kara age (aka "build your own bun" but in the tasting menu it wasn't a full bun and instead was just teriyaki chicken with sauce), and vegan matcha bao-nut. I chose the Matcha Bao-Nut which was a deep fried bun-shaped donut dipped in sugar and topped with a scoop of vegan matcha ice cream.
Why did I choose a dessert? For one reason, the other two options looked the worse. No one wants a truncated version of the real thing. Either give me the whole deal or none of it at all. Maybe I'll try the full version on my own after the new menu goes live to the public starting tomorrow, February 5th. As for now, the tasting menu was a bit of a let down. Hate saying it, but I just want to be honest with my readers here.
Another reason I chose the dessert? When I'm in Soho, I'm probably meeting a friend for dinner or I'm out shopping or checking out shows/museums/etc. So I need a dessert place for after dinner or to rest my feet and recharge after walking around all day. Maybe you work the same way as me. For me, there's always room and almost always a need for dessert. Come to Soho and you'll know what I'm talking about. That's why I made a whole blog just for cheap desserts in Soho. Click here for recommendations:
After waiting 30 minutes in line with rowdy customers for the doors to fling wide open, I was finally handed this Matcha Bao-Nut. It took me a while to figure out why it's called a Bao-Nut when there are no nuts involved. It's a play on the word "do-nut". It's definitely not the most creative name especially with the hyphen. But when I keep repeating it in my head, it makes me giggle. I guess that's a thumbs up.
An employee repeatedly and unconfidently described the dessert as a fried bao to the customer in front of me. It's not. It's definitely a sugared donut shaped as a bao, which is a very clever and unique idea. The bao-shaped donut is topped with a scoop of vegan matcha ice cream. Biting into this adorable dessert turned out to be quite a mess with the already melting ice cream and the honey glaze all over. The best way to attack this Bao-nut is to take the ice cream off, grab the donut with your fingers and dip the donut into the ice cream.
You're reading the words ice cream, sugared, honey glaze, and donut and I know you're reaching for your water to calm your empathizing parched throat. I appreciate it. Truth be told, I could not finish this smaller than fist-sized dessert. The honey glaze and sugar was unnecessary. It was like adding the same flavor of sweetener on top of sweetener on top of sweetener on top of ice cream. It still had great flavor and a nice crunchy texture from the donut. So if you want to try this, my recommendation is to split it with a friend so as to avoid chugging down water and raising your glucose levels afterwards. I found myself enjoying just the donut alone because the texture was really on point.
You should still try out this new trial menu from Wagamama because I don't know how long it'll be around. It's inspired by Japanese Street Food which can bring a much needed wider food culture to London.
Do you need some guidance around Soho? I recommend a guided food tour. Eating Europe's mission is "to leave travelers with an unparalleled, non-touristy, food-related experience in undiscovered neighborhoods of the most fascinating cities in the world." They want you to meet locals, see the real neighborhoods, have a memorable experience, and ultimately fall in love with the unique town. They have a Soho Food Tour available right now and you can take a look right here:
If you're checking out Soho, try this food tour out. You won't regret it!
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