As you know from my previous review of Wagamama’s vegan menu, I was a rather underwhelmed by their offer. That is until I went to their experimental kitchen, Noodle Lab, on Dean Street in London’s Soho where my socks were firmly blown off.
The menu that Noodle Lab offer was exactly what I had hoped the standard Wagamama vegan menu would be when I went to their Bournemouth restaurant back in October. While there were some incredibly exciting mains options like Tofu Ramen, Sticky Seitan Stir Fry and (the much lauded) Vegatsu, it was Cook Daily’s Cookmama that I was desperate to try.
I started my meal with Pumpkin Onigiri which made a change from my regular gyoza. The Ongiri were pleasant if unremarkable when compared with the rest of the meal but they were flavourful and satisfying with a punchy chilli and coriander dipping sauce. Then I moved on the main event, the real reason I had trekked from Dorset to London Cook Daily’s epic udon noodle bowl, Cookmama. And it did not disappoint, loaded with tender stem broccoli, asparagus, shichimi dusted tofu and udon noodles coated in a thick and deeply flavourful curry sauce which created a fantastic base note for this spicy and exciting dish. The udons were perfectly cooked, bringing a ‘meaty’ and satisfying texture to the dish. It was spicy, complex and totally excellent and absolutely needs to be rolled out across the entire chain so that everyone can have opportunity to love it as much as I did.
After revelling in the flavour party that was the Cookmama bowl I proceeded to push the boat out even further by trying BOTH of the vegan dessert options. I feared I was going to have a real Monty Python Meaning of Life moment but the damn things were so deeply delicious my stomach somehow managed to accommodate not only the mango and matcha millefeuille but also the chocolate peanut butter tart with coconut ice cream. Having the opportunity to finish my meal off with anything other than a sorbet always fills me with joy and a sense of gratitude but I was not prepared for the deliciousness that these desserts brought to the table. The millefeuille was layer upon layer of light elegant vanilla sponge and matcha cream punctuated with the sweet acidity of mango passionfruit puree and cut with the tang of yuzu. It was so light and fluffy it was like eating a cloud made of unicorn dreams. And then there was the chocolate tart, oh my! This was so indulgent and rich it was a meal all to itself. If you are a chocolate lover you need to try this!
All in all my middling opinion of Wagamama has been challenged by some truly excellent vegan food the likes of which the high street has yet to see. If they can give their standard vegan menu the Noodle Lab treatment they will be lauded by vegans and plant-based eaters the country over.
Location: 81 Dean St, Soho, London W1P 3HP