Standing in the middle of the thriving eatery courtyard in Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre we’re surrounded by a fantastic array of restaurants offering foods we all know very well ranging from fiery Jamaican food to Italian classics and of course, a cheeky Portuguese Nandos – there sure is something to suit everyone. But the want for authentic Asian cuisine has been dramatically increasing in popularity, especially for Japanese specialities.
So, Wagamama is right here in the centre of Leicester to satisfy our increasing demand for healthy, fresh, trendy, out-of-the-ordinary food in a setting that offers up a perfect escape from everyday life. Excitable chitter chatter radiates from the tables of happy diners all round who seem familiar with the Wagamama way. But if you’re a newbie to this style of dining there’s no need to feel out of your comfort zone as your waiter will be happy to explain anything on the menu. Our server was friendly and chatty and had no problem guiding us through the menu and recommended what works well with what. We were blown away by the lively atmosphere and energetic yet laid back service as the waiters floated around in jeans and t-shirts.
We shared several small dishes for our starters, tried out two mains and indulged in three desserts. The Wok-Fried Greens were a healthy mix of tender stem broccoli and bok choi all stir-fried in a garlic and soy sauce. For even those of you who aren’t keen on your greens your mouth will water at these delicious vegetables smothered in tasty sauce. They arrive literally as a plate of sauced greens and honestly, nothing more is needed.
Hirata Steamed Buns, a magical combination of small fluffy Asian buns flavoured with BBQ Beef and red onion served with Japanese mayo and coriander. The pale little doughy buns were presented beautifully and their perfect light pillowy texture encased the intensely flavoured beef deliciously.
The subtly spiced shichimi dusted crispy fried Chilli Squid was seasonally balanced bringing out the flavours of the meaty seafood and came with a dipping sauce of chilli and coriander – this trio made up a hat trick of appetisers!
For our main courses, it was to be Grilled Duck Donburi, a perfectly tender shredded duck leg in teriyaki sauce with white rice, vegetables and kimchi with the duck exactly as it should be, packed with exciting flavours. The rice was a faultless sticky consistency stuffed with crunchy mangetout, carrots, with soft sweet potato all topped with a crispy fried egg and shredded cucumber – a myriad of full flavours that was sensational along with the spice of the teriyaki sauce.
The Steak Bulgogi, was made up of a marinated sirloin steak, miso fried aubergine, soba noodles and a sesame seed and bulgogi sauce – and what a tantalising combination. A delicate presentation that focused on colour, texture and scent and brought out the exploding freshness of each ingredient. Tender and juicy, the steak infused with soy sauce and garlic was incredibly moreish.
Wagamama desserts are always light and cleanse the palette after the spices and flavours of a main meal and the Pink Guava and Passionfruit and Yuzu and Lemon Tart with raspberry compote, both served with fresh mint, were refreshing and a deliciously sweet ending to our Wagamama feast. We also couldn’t help but try out the chocolate layer cake which had three gorgeous layers of chocolate sponge, dark chocolate parfait and hazelnut cream. Each ingredient of every course had us constantly trying to sustain from over-the-top reactions. Wagamama familiars don’t just come here to be ‘trendy’ individuals, but for an authentic, quality, and memorable meal.
Niche can wholeheartedly recommend this Asian escape to everyday life to those looking to try something new and Wagamama’s new dishes to those who have already fallen in love with the place.