One of the perks of being a student journalist, and a reward for trawling through countless pointless press releases (review a hacky sack anyone?), is that you get the opportunity to review great stuff for free. So naturally I jumped at the chance to try Wagamama’s new summer menu, roping in some friends to sample the seasonal fare.
Wagamama is some of my favourite Asian food this side of the Urals, but with mains priced upwards of £7 it’s not everyday student food (though pretty good value compared to a lot of restaurants). It is at the top of my treats list though, and the new summer menu has definitely kept it there.
In between supping on the free green tea that Wagamama doles out, we tried the new fruit juices – Orange Berry Bang, with orange juice, berries and passion fruit, and apple, mint, celery and lime juice, the latter an odd-looking combination that is surprisingly tasty. Both were refreshing and delicious, with the added bonus of feeling that you were topping up on your vitamins, something that a late-night McDonalds just can’t quite match.
Next up were the side dishes – Chicken, Beef and Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki, all variations on mini kebabs. The first two were covered in generous dollops of a sweet, sticky soy sauce, and out of the two my vote went to the succulent barbecued beef over the chicken meatballs. The universal favourite, though, were the juicy lollipop prawns, with all of us giving the thumbs up to the garlicky, lemony, limey goodness.
Mains-wise, the intringuingly-named Firecracker was unfortunately sold out when we dined in Oxford, so all of us opted for the Yasai Pad Thai, save for one whose nut allergy meant that she had to choose the Chop Salad. The salad was healthy and tastily-dressed, and was given bonus points on the grounds that it had avocados in – ‘My favourite thing in the world that I can’t afford.’
The rest of us agreed that while the Pad Thai portions were very generous it could have done with a bit less spice and a bit more marinated tofu. I’m no Pad Thai purist, despite it being one of my favourite foods, but the Wagamama version could have done with a bit more of the traditional sticky sauce. Minor gripes aside though, we all agreed that the food lived up to Wagamama’s tastily high standards.
The staff were also lovely and attentive, despite being rushed off their feet on Bank Holiday weekend, which made up for having to wait for a table outside (thankfully it wasn’t raining). The long tables, presumably meant to ape a traditional Asian diner, are not the best place for an intimate romantic dinner, but otherwise the noise and closeness of the fellow diners doesn’t detract from the dining experience.
So all round worth stretching the student loan for if you’re still in Oxford, and definitely one to let the parents treat you to if you’re already lucky enough to be back in the safe embrace of the family credit cards.