Where: Wagamama (Lower ground level, Chadstone shopping centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, VIC, 3148)
What: Friday lunch
Wagamama isn't really a place that I've felt is blog-worthy. I've been to a number of their franchises in Melbourne and surrounds and have always felt pretty apathetic towards the establishment. In real terms, my experiences at the eateries have neither been good, nor bad. Wagamama is never the sort of place I would suggest for a meal with friends, but yesterday I was happy to head there on a friend's request.
The restaurants have a lot of potential design-wise. The feel of the place is all very Chocolate Buddha. For those who have never been to Chocolate Buddha, I simply mean that the atmosphere is communal and relaxed - not at all bad.
However, yesterday two things really ruined our experience.
Firstly, the food took exactly one hour to appear on our table from the time of ordering. We were utterly famished by the time it was delivered - pretty bad for a restaurant that claims to be modelled on Japan's ramen bars. I can tell you for a fact that I never waited more than about 3 minutes for my ramen in Japan. Not that I expect a 3 minute turn around, but an indication of the expected wait would have been nice at the least.
Secondly, while my bento box was reasonable - katsu chicken curry on rice (not bad at all); edamame beans (lacking any salt); salad (quite delicious); and sweet potato chips (soggy) - my friend's Thai inspired noodles were neither Thai, nor inspired! The plate was a big brown mess and she commented: "it just tastes like stuff". I was initially critical of her ostensibly inarticulate description of the food and tried some myself. She was right - the noodles did indeed taste like "stuff". Sweet, insipid, boring stuff!
To top it off, I find the prices at the eatery unnecessarily inflated. Just up the escalator within the shopping complex, one can purchase a delicious sizzling hot plate of Teppanyaki (veg or meat) for half the price of most of Wagamama's dishes.
It's certainly time for Wagamama and I to part ways!