As a vegan eating at Wagamama was always fine but in a slightly annoying away. Once you had selected your dish out would come the giant ingredients folder and your server would comb through its pages in order to tell you if the object of your interest was vegan or could be 'veganised'.
Thankfully this process has just become an awful lot easier now that Wagamama have launched a dedicated vegan menu.
We stopped at the Bournemouth branch to see what the new plant-based menu had to offer (unfortunately not the much lauded Seitan Katsu Curry of Fat Gay Vegan fame which is only available at selected restaurants) and were initially pretty excited about what we found.
We started with Yasai Gyoza (£5.75) which I have always enjoyed although they seemed to be less garlicy this time round. That's not a hugely bad thing but they tasted a little blander as a result. We moved on to the vegan Pad Thai (£9.75) and Kare Burosu Ramen (£10.95). Both were big bowls of comforting flavours but my food comrade and I both felt that each dish was missing something. It seemed that the non vegan element had been removed but nothing had been substituted (which drives me crazy!) so in the case of the Pad Thai the sulfuric punch of the egg was missing and hadn't been replaced with another flavour to punctuate the dish. The Kare Burosa desperately needed a binding fat to deliver a base note to the pallet and give some longevity to the strong flavours of mushroom and chili which dissipated quickly in the mouth and felt watery as a result. Both bowls looked really inviting but they didn't quite deliver all they promised my eyes once they were in my mouth.
We finished off our meal with the pink guava & passion fruit sorbet. I tend to sniff at the ubiquitous vegan sorbet dessert option but this was genuinely delicious and refreshing and a rather pleasant way to end the meal.
It's great that Wagamama have made our vegan lives easier by creating a dedicated vegan menu and it's great to know that we can just stop in for a big bowl of warm noodly yum with minimum fuss. However, I do feel that they could have delivered a deeper level of recipe development that was genuinely exciting with some surprising and clever additions to the vegan dishes that would have made each option a delightful dish for all diners as opposed to the stripped down 'vegan option'.