Restaurant review: Peterborough's Wagamama was worth waiting for after all
As the offering in the city centre's Cathedral Square dining quarter grew in recent years, so did the clamour for a wagamama.
Those prayers were answered last month, when the 130-seat restaurant opened in Long Causeway ... and the reception was overwhelming if somewhat expected, with queues of keen diners throughout lunchtimes and early evening most days.
And with things having calmed down somewhat, although it was pretty much full to capacity at 1pm on a Monday, I decided to grab a bench and see what all the fuss was about.
Inside is quite eye-grabbing - from the open kitchen as you enter to the trendy grey decor, exposed brickwork and mirrors everywhere.
It is, as is the wagamama way, benches of various levels throughout, but still enough room for a little privacy.
The menu is what the Pan-Asian brand is famous for, and I lost track of the number of side dishes and mains I thought about combining to get a true experience of the food.
Cooked properly, I adore chilli squid (£5.95), and this was top notch. A bigger portion than I imagined, a nice, just-fried taste, plenty of crisp and flavour in the Japanese spice coating (shichimi), and the chilli coriander dip gave it a bit of a kick.
Across the table shredded crispy duck (£5.95) served with cucumber and spring onions, served in lettuce wraps with tamari sauce.
A smaller serving, compared to mine, but the duck was tasty enough if a little dry, although the sauce gave it a nice lift.
I was equally impressed with my main course - shirodashi ramen (£9.75).
The slow cooked pork belly marinated in a fantastic bulgogi sauce was so soft and just oozed flavour.
The initially tasteless noodles came alive after a few spoonfuls of the hearty broth with dashi and miso and I did enjoy the fresh pea shoots, and the bamboo shoots.
Another great combo for my tuna-loving wife Donna, a seared tuna steak (£12.75).
It came on a delicious bed of quinoa, with kale, red peppers, red onion and edamame beans, served with a miso cucumber and sesame seed salad.... and more great flavours.
After hearing a few horror stories about service in the opening weeks, I can happily report that there were no complaints on that score. It was prompt and helpful - we were told about everything being freshly prepared and the expected times courses might take - and everything was delivered on time.
A half of Japanese lager and a sparkling water, the bill came in just under £40. In my opinion, a great addition to the eating out scene in the city.
VENUE: wagamama, 37-39 Long Causeway, Peterborough, PE1 1YJ. Online www.wagamama.com/restaurants/peterborough TEL: 01733 889851