We’ve experienced it in Knightsbridge, Istanbul, and Cairo; deep bowls filled with a chockfull of beef, noodles, and crisp veggies. We’ve gorged on Chicken Chili Ramen and Gyoza. Now, we don’t have to curb our Wagamama cravings with anything other than Wagamama itself, finally open at 360 Mall Kuwait. And with Kuwait’s budding winter weather, there’s nothing I’d love more than warming my tummy through with a bowl of Pan-Asian comfort food. So I dragged my friend out of bed, into some sweats, and over to Wagamama, ready for some positive eating.
Though it’s only been open officially for a couple of weeks now, Wagamama wasn’t crowded at all. I was happy to see that they’d kept their branded style of communal benches, even though most people wouldn’t be too keen on sharing a table with a complete stranger. But that’s the beautiful thing about Wagamama – it’s not about who you’re sharing your table with; it’s about enjoying their food. And that is precisely what I did.
Our waiter, a jolly British fellow named Wayne, bustled through the benches and came around to take our order. Despite the incoming crowds, his spirits were high and he was as friendly as can be, introducing himself and showing impressive knowledge of Wagamama’s signature plates.
I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat; the menu was abundant with dishes that screamed ‘flavor’. Had I been with a larger crowd, I would’ve ordered a lot more that I did, but I had to save face so my company wouldn’t assume I was a pig-a-mama. So, I settled for the Ebi Katsu and Raw Salad for starters, the infamous Chicken Katsu Curry as a main dish, and my friend went with the Yaki Udon. Wayne even let us customize our orders however we liked, and quickly jotted down random numbers and symbols on our paper place mats. Before I even had a chance to ask him what they meant, he explained that the numbers pertained to the order’s placement on the menu, and the little X’s and squiggles meant random things like “ice and lemon”. He chatted with us for a brief moment before sending our orders off to the kitchen. Before we knew it, our orders came rolling out, piping hot and ready to be devoured.
The Ebi Katsu was everything a shrimp appetizer should be; crisp, hot, delightful. The golden-brown Panko breadcrumbs encompassed the cooked butterfly shrimp, which was beautiful curled and nowhere near rubbery. We smothered each shrimp with the accompanying garlic-chili sauce and watched as the pieces disappeared one by one.
The raw salad, to me, was nothing more than a palette cleanser for what was to come. I picked at the crispy green lettuce leaves and carrots, enjoying the tart flavor of Wagamama’s light house dressing. The best was yet to come, and my stomach knew it better than anyone else.
The intoxicating smell of curry and turmeric wafted into my nose, putting my salivary glands into action. A hearty cutlet of Panko-breaded chicken was wedged underneath a dome of fluffy white rice, drowned in a gorgeous green katsu curry. A garnish of mixed leaves and Japanese pickles decorated the white bowl, but this dish did not need any beautifying – one heaping spoonful of rice, chicken and curry, and I was sold. In less than ten minutes time, the only traces left were the thin lines of green curry that my spoon had unfortunately missed. Chicken Katsu Curry, my friends, should be the official post-breakup meal.
My friend’s Yaki Udon noodles were equally divine. The loaded noodles were dotted with flecks of sesame seeds and spices, intertwined around morsels of tender chicken and shrimp, and fresh mushrooms, peppers, egg, onion, and bean sprouts. It was an amalgamation of spicy, sweet, and salty, and our taste buds couldn’t have been happier.
It wasn’t long before Wayne came back to our table, ensuring that everything was cooked to our liking, and kindly asking us if we would like any dessert. Unfortunately, we were too full to have anything else. Politely declining, we silently promised ourselves that the next time we came around to Wagamama, we would definitely indulge in a dessert or two.
Final verdict? Wagamama is a winner. I will definitely be going back there for some more friendly service and comforting curries!
Images: Wagamama Kuwait
– Farah Bishara.