I spend about eighty percent of the time with my camera being surprised at the results it comes out with. I’m never going to be a food photographer, but I think that dear little camera does a good job at making it look like I know what I’m doing. I really don’t. And if you’d like any evidence of this, ask me to take photos of things that aren’t food or drinks – I really struggle. So when wagamama invited me down to check out their newly refurbished Bullring venue, I really did try and take some photos of the new refurb but I’ve just got a series of strangers making weird faces as they try and eat noodles. And I’m not mean enough to subject them or you to that.
So yeah, wagamama, I don’t really need to introduce them do I? I mean even my mum knows them; admittedly she calls them “that place I have noodles” whenever we’re thinking about lunch in Solihull but I think that says more about the scarcity of my mum eating carbs than anything. Anyway, back to Brum. Turns out the Bullring branch was the first wagamama restaurant to open in the UK outside of London, which I didn’t know, and has had a refurb, which I did know because I had an email telling me. On the surface it doesn’t look like anything massively structural has changed; the seating is much the same although there are now some little semi-booth like tables to the side and it feels distinctively less like a canteen (I think the official term is ramen bar), which is always a good thing. I think its the inclusion of darker wood on the tables and walls, plus the lighting feels more ‘mood’. The kitchen is still open, the long tables are there but overall if feels less functional and more pleasant. It’s definitely a change for the better.
Food wise I had convinced myself I was going to go for something a bit different. But I was having one of those days when it All Gets a Bit Much and was moments off making a fort under the nearest desk and staying there. On days like this comfort food is an absolute must and, for me, chicken katsu curry covers that pretty well; fried chicken, carbohydrates in the form of rice, a small but tasty salad to absolve you any guilt and a mild curry sauce. And that’s what I got. It was chicken katsu curry, it was exactly what I wanted and tasted like every other chicken katsu curry I’ve had a wagamamas – you’ve got to give them credit for consistency on their part. And that’s what I wanted, a familiar favourite when I couldn’t handle more choice. Had it been another day I may well have gone for something else, which does occasionally happen, and there is a nice selection of ramen, curries and teppanyaki.
For starter I went for another well known favourite, the duck gyoza with dipping sauce. These were possibly a bit over done for my liking, but this time round I actually remembered to try the sauce and it whilst it was very sweet it did have a nice fruitiness to it that complimented the duck.
Oh and I’d also dragged along my friend Jo-ann, who I’m pretty sure ordered tori kara age and some sort of donburi. I’m always a bit wary of putting words into people’s mouths but she seemed to enjoy them both, which is the mainly thing really.
So there you have it, the wagamama in the Bullring has had a refurbishment. It’s a good refurbishment, you don’t spend ages wondering where the hell everything is, but it looks different enough that you know they haven’t just out a lick of paint on the wall. In fact, there’s a bit on their ‘about us’ page (see I do do research) which talks about ‘kaizen’, meaning ‘good change’ and I think the refurb certainly adheres to that.
Disclosure: I was invited down by wagamama to check out their newly refurbed restaurant. The lack of ability to remember names of anything is an inherited trait, so I blame my mother, the eccentricity is largely my father’s fault.