Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Good, Healthy & Reliable – Wagamama After A Winter #London Walk @wagamama_uk

Where to grab a bite after/before a London Walk?

I've asked my London Walks colleagues to chip in their suggestions and I'll share them here regularly on The Daily Constitutional.

The Rules: All "reviews" were conducted anonymously and we paid our way. No kick-backs, no payola, no deals: these are the places that we London Walks guides - and London Walkers – choose when eating and drinking out and about in London. No buckshee burritos, nary a gratis granola bar was received in exchange for these recommendations.

And I promise never to use the word "eaterie". Seriously: have you EVER heard anyone SAY the word eaterie?

The Criteria: As well as the one-offs, the unique cafes, bars and stalls that make London so special, I'll be featuring reliable chains along the way. They have to be in London and within five minutes of the end of a London Walks tour.

I hope you enjoy them.

Have your say: As usual we'd like to hear from you – drop us a line with your own London foodie (and drinkie) tips.

Buon Appetito!

A.S-G London, January 2017

Adam writes…

Wherever possible, I try to review and recommend The Little Guy in this slot. The big chains have publicity machines to give 'em a push and I figure that they don't need the extra help. Besides, I'm a little bit snooty about big chains so call me a snob and I'll take it on the chin.

But I also say "credit where credit is due" and in my experience it has always been due at Wagamama.

I've been using Wagamama now for 25 years this year – since they were founded as a one-off in Streatham Street, Bloomsbury by Hong Kong-born restaurateur Alan Yau in 1992.

In fact it struck me on Saturday, when I was out and about all day leading three London Walks tours, that it was possible that not one of the staff at the Covent Garden branch on the early evening shift was even BORN when I slurped my first Wagamama noodle!

The founding principle of the place was good, healthy, fresh food. And a dozen and more chains have copied this philosophy in recent years.

But the thing about Wagamama, to my eye, is that they have never stinted on quality or quantity. The portions didn't get smaller. They didn't ever cut a corner with lower quality ingredients. The initial flush of success (we used to have to queue-up to get into the Streatham Street branch and the line sometimes went up the stairs from the basement restaurant and out the door) didn't ever seem to make them sit back on their laurels. They just kept on keeping on, good food, friendly service at a decent price.

Reliability, in a word.

I knew on Saturday, a day when the temperature struggled above the 0 degrees mark, when the icy wind whipped me on Waterloo Bridge, when the rain that the BBC had failed to predict (!) began to seep into my hat, I just knew that a bowl of steaming hot noodles from Wagamama would be on the agenda.

These days the queue goes out the door at Kanada Ya, the new kid on the block. And I'm looking forward to sampling their well-reviewed ramen soon. But Saturday was no day for risks. I was cold having conducted two walking tours, I needed a good meal before my third tour at night, and Wagamama would not let me down.

The meals for kids are outstanding…

… the curries are great, the fruit juices are delicious, but that old standby Chicken Ramen just can't be beaten on a freezing London day.

Ask at the end of my Inside Covent Garden walk on Thursdays and I can give you directions to the Tavistock Street branch…

There's a branch on High Street Kensington, handy if you are joining my Old Kensington tour on Thursdays

There's a branch in Spitalfields Market near the end of my Thursday Jack the Ripper tour…

The Tower Hill branch is handy for the start of my Thursday Jack the Ripper tour…

Visit the Wagamama website: www.wagamama.com

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.

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