Wednesday, April 25, 2007

London Noodle House Comes Stateside - Wagamama

Wagamama is HUGE in London. So I've been anticipating the opening of the first U.S. outpost for months. Went in yesterday for lunch (day 2 of it being open). The food was fantastic! I got the chicken katsu curry, which was more an Indian style curry, and the katsu was perfectly breaded and crispily fried. Just they way I like my chicken. We also tried the kare lomen (a shrimp curry ramen soup), it was very curry spicy, and had about 5 shrimp in it, however the portion was huge. Just make sure to not wear white when you order it, as it does splatter and stain. They served it with a ladle (yes, ladle, not spoon) to eat out of. If you are not adept with slippery noodles I suggest asking for a fork, there are lots of noodles in it.

Now the downside: The service was HORRIBLE. We went in late for lunch and despite there being plenty of seating and 5 employees standing at the front door when we walked in, we waited 10 min for anyone to acknowledge us. Our order was taken promptly by one of the 2 people who appeared to be the British trainers. But not once while eating did anyone come to see if we wanted more to drink, and it took no less than 30 min. to get our check. We caught the eye of several servers in an attempt to get the check, yet none of them seemed to understand this universal sign of "please come over here". Our British server disappeared completely after taking our order and spent the rest of our lunch on the other side of the restaurant clearly training their staff. When we finally had someone approach us with the check (not waiting to see if we wanted anything else or dessert), we informed her we wanted to put in an order of the soup to take with us and would like our leftovers wrapped to go.
"We don't do that".

They certainly have take out in London, and I had seen other people walk out with boxes, so this wasn't a crazy request. Plus, it's not a 3 star Michelin restaurant, and it is in the middle of one of Boston's biggest tourist centers. This was absurd.

She sent someone else over (a manager I suspect as his outfit was not the same as the others), who informed us they were not prepared for take out, but he would wrap our food. The rest of our soup filled half of a soup container. So why could they not put another order of soup in a similar container and let us take it with us? Not sure. This continued to baffle me all afternoon. The rest of my katsu went in a very common to go container.

The atmosphere is communal tables, minimalist style, and an open kitchen. Hopefully they will garner outdoor seating soon.

Overall the food was worth going in for, the prices are reasonable, but they really need to hire experienced servers and teach their current servers some customer service skills. I may be back, but I wasn't overwhelmed by this outpost, and will certainly take my time before going in again.

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