If you’re anything like me then when you head to a restaurant you’ve been to before, you usually stick to your favourite dish. That one trusty meal that you know you’ll love and end up scraping the bottom of the bowl at the end.
Well, it seems that the big heads at Wagamama have caught on to us doing this and so to encourage us to try out other dishes on their menu, they’ve launched the #wayofwagamama campaign this April! If you pop into your nearest restaurant you’ll find some new fancy placemats showing you some brightly coloured pictures of their meals and they’ll be encouraging you to give a different dish a go.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Way Of Wagamama event in Cardiff and was treated to a night of tasting! Before the night, I was asked what my go-to dish was and of course, I picked the Katsu curry, then Executive Chef Steve Mangleshot and taste expert Christy Ferguson picked out two dishes that they thought I’d like based on the flavours I clearly loved in the Katsu curry. On the night, Chef Steve brought out two new dishes for me to try; the Raisukaree Chicken and the Firecracker (I know, I was scared too).
Steve said he chose these two for me because I clearly love a good curry and therefore I’m a bit of a fan of spicy foods. He eased me in with the Raisukaree, which is one of his Chef faves! It’s a beautiful blend of coconut and lime curry sauce with peppers, spring onions, red chillies, ginger and garlic which is then served with rice, mixed sesame seeds, red chillies, coriander and lime. I instantly fell in love with this dish. I could completely understand what Steve was saying when he talked about how he wanted to create dishes with different levels and layers. With every mouthful of the Raisukaree, you’re treated to a different flavour from the lime to the lemongrass and then the chilli. It’s honestly delicious and I could have easily eaten the whole dish!
But, Steve still had the Firecracker ready and waiting for me. I was obviously aware that it’s the hottest dish on the menu so I was a little apprehensive but, seen as the night was all about trying something new, I dug deep and took a bite! Honestly, it wasn’t as hot as I thought it was going to be and I could also taste all of the other flavours like the spring onions, peppers and sweet and hot sauces too. It was basically the perfect amount of hotness; enough to make your lips tingle but not too much to make it impossible to enjoy. Although I do slightly regret trying one of the incredibly hot chillis!
Throughout the night Christy Ferguson, the food psychologist, was explaining each of the flavours in our foods. She said that people who tend to like hot dishes and things like chilli tend to be adrenaline junkies because they love that rush! (and pain!) Pretty interesting to know that our food tastes can determine what kind of person we are.
At the end of the night, I asked Chef Steve how he comes up with new dishes and he said he just plays around with flavours; some work, some don’t. He then brought out an innocent dish of ice cream with a topping and told us all to trust him and try it. I dipped my spoon in and tasted the ice cream, expecting to be welcomed by a sweet caramel sauce maybe, only to find my tastes buds responding to a hot curry flavour followed by cool and smooth coconut ice cream. The sauce was actually Katsu curry! I know that sounds a little confusing but it was actually really amazing! The warmth and hotness of the curry is matched perfectly with the cooling coconut ice-cream and even though in your head, you know it’s wrong, you can’t stop eating because it tastes so good!
I also tried one of their green juices on the night called the super green which was a mixture of apples and lime! Really delicious and it really complimented the meals too. The night was amazing and I’m really grateful to have been invited. I was so impressed by the knowledge that Chef Steve had and his stories about how he takes inspiration from different countries and cuisines for the Wagamama menu. I was also impressed that he travelled to the Rhondda to get some locally sourced meat for the dishes! (extra points to you Steve!)
As I mentioned, the aim of the campaign is to encourage you to pick another dish on the menu and, well this week I made another visit to Wagamamas and yes, instead of going for my usual Katsu curry, I gave the Raisukaree another go and loved it even more! AND when my boyfriend was ordering his dish (he was going to get his usual), he opted for a different dish that he hadn’t tried before (Teriyaki chicken Danbury) after seeing it on his placemat! Needless to say he ate it all (and in light speed as well I may add).
So this April when you pop in for your meal at Wagamama, why don’t you try something new. You never know, you might just find your NEW favourite dish!