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Wagamama, Cabot Circus: Review

Nov 3, 2015 #Cabot Circus #Japanese #Wagamama
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Wagamama Cabot Circus - Sign


The Cabot Circus branch of popular chain restaurant Wagamama is the brand’s third in Bristol (you’ll also find them on the Triangle and at Cribbs), having opened in October 2013. Serving a non-sushi, Japanese-inspired menu, the Cabot branch always seems busy – even when we visited at 6pm for an early pre-cinema meal.

Rather than sitting at the long tables alongside other people, we chose to sit at a table for two in the terraced area at the front of the restaurant, complete with comfortable bucket seats and views of…well, of Frankie & Benny’s next door. The welcome we received was friendly and enthusiastic – and while we were impressed with the service for the most part, we did have a few issues during our meal.

The premise at Wagamama is simple: order your drinks, order your food, and elements of your order will be brought out as soon as they are ready. With a large Singha for Chris (priced at nearly £7 for a 630ml bottle) and a Bottle Green sparkling mango and coconut drink (£2.50) ordered for me, we sat back to peruse the menu.

There’s plenty of choice at Wagamama, from their signature ramen to teppanyaki and donburi dishes, curries, salads and omakase – their chefs’ special dishes. There’s also a list of sides from which to choose – we ordered a portion of fried duck gyoza (£5.95) to share as a starting point.

These five, fried dumplings were filled with a decent amount of duck, which was lovely and tender and moist – the wrapper, however, was a bit too dry with a bit of a sandy consistency. The pot of hoisin sauce with which they were served was good, though – unctuous and sweet, and full of flavour.


Wagamama Cabot Circus - Duck Gyoza


I’m boring and always choose the same main on the rare occasions that I visit Wagamama, and this time was no different. The Wagamama Ramen (£10.95) features soup, noodles and a wealth of additional ingredients – I always choose it because I like the mix of flavours.

While the soup based is claimed to be miso, chicken and ginger, it was the miso that had by far the strongest flavour – the ginger was pretty much non-existent. The portion of noodles was certainly generous, and they were perfectly cooked, and the other toppings were, on the whole, great. Juicy prawns and mussels, chicken so tender that it shredded under the chopsticks, two rich and flavourful slices of barbecued pork and sliced chikuwa (essentially a Japanese fish cake, with a rubbery texture) were all fantastic. The dish was topped with half a tea-stained egg (the tea added no discernible extra flavour, but was still good), slightly sour but oh-so-tasty fermented bamboo shoots and slivers of spring onion. So good.


Wagamama Cabot Circus - Wagamama Ramen


Sadly, things weren’t so great on the other side of the table. Remember the whole “food is brought out when it’s ready” thing? It was almost 10 minutes after mine was set down in front of me that Chris’ katsu curry arrived…and when it did arrive, it was luke warm at best. Cue trying to attract someone’s attention to have a warmer version brought over: the guy who eventually came over didn’t offer an apology, just took the food away without saying a word.

Another 10 minutes or so later (I’d started eating mine by then…) the katsu curry arrived – thankfully hot, this time. It’s never going to be the most appealing-looking dish, but you could see that they’d tried to do something with the presentation…and while the portion was generous, the rice well cooked and the sauce glossy enough and the right colour, it just wasn’t a patch on other katsu curries we’ve tried elsewhere.


Wagamama Cabot Circus - Chicken Katsu Curry


Wagamama kindly knocked the price of the katsu curry off our bill for the inconvenience that the temperature issue had caused, but while I enjoyed my meal, I don’t think Chris is that keen to go back. Generally, for a chain, it’s pretty consistently good – I guess we just turned up on a bad day…



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2 thoughts on “Wagamama, Cabot Circus: Review”
  1. My wife and I had a very similar “Wagamama Experience” to this. The excuse of we bring out the food when ready is just that an excuse for poor service. We have only returned once to spend the compensation recieved after we complained. Never again!

    1. Sorry to hear that you had a similar experience! I’ve generally been pretty impressed with them in the past – this was our first visit to the Cabot branch, though, and the service wouldn’t persuade me to go back!

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