I recently visited wagamama on New Street after a Christmas away from home.
To say I was a snotty mess the day we travelled home from our northern Christmas was an understatement. Bundled up on a freezing train from Cleethorpes to Birmingham (via a detour to a fucking cold Sheffield) I sneezed, wheezed and coughed my way back to BrumLand. The lurgy had well and truly taken The Husband and I by Boxing Day, and despite trying to drink through it (we tried this, a lot) by December 27th we looked like extras from 28 Days Later.
The one thing we had going for us by the time we pulled into New Street was the realisation we had steaming bowls of spicy ramen waiting for us at wagamama. We’ve visited the New Street branch of ‘Wags’ before (see you can read about that here) most notably when we got back from honeymoon and thought we were dying of alcohol poisoning. It seems to be a theme that we choose the Japanese-inspired restaurant as a restorative prop; this is a coincidence.. apparently.
Arriving late afternoon to find it pretty empty (I can’t tell you how happy that made me) we ordered a feast of ramen bowls, sides and drinks. My Super Green (£3.50) juice was a vitamin packed concoction of apple, celery, lime and mint. I felt virtuous just looking at it, mainly because anything that looks like pond slime must be good for you.. yeah? Either way it was refreshing and tasty.
We opted for the same main. Chicken Itame (£11.50) is back on the menu – this soup vanished for a year which sort of ruined my life a bit – albeit now under the Curry section which seems a bit weird. A spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup, it’s topped with slices of grilled chicken, crunchy beansprouts and bok choi, red and spring onions, peppers, mushrooms and chilli.
The additional optional lime wedges to squeeze over give a zingy freshness and it’s the ideal winter warmer if you’re feeling like a flu-ridden zombie. It wasn’t as spicy as I remember, but that was easily fixed with an ample sprinkling of red chilli flakes found in the condiment tray. I still had sinuses that hated me, obviously, but at least I felt happier, warmer and full.
Also if you’re not a fan of flat rice noodles (they are impossible for me to eat without splashing myself continuously) you can do what I did and swap them for the ramen kind. It’s worth noting you are actually fine to do that swap for any of the noodle varieties available on any dish; Ian always swaps udon (the fat slug-like ones) for ramen whenever we eat there.
We also ordered several side plates to share including griddled Chicken Gyoza (£5.95) and fried Chilli Squid (£6.25). These both arrived after the soups – in fact the squid arrived so late they took it off the bill – and were served with the all important accompanying dipping sauces.
The garlic infused soy sauce dip is my all-time favourite, and I love the strong flavour with the delicate chicken mix. The crispy pieces of squid are dusted on a light spice and are cooked without being chewy. We always talk about ordering other sides but rarely do, having decided about 7 years ago that these are the best on offer.
It’s not the cheapest meal; it’s not rocket science; it’s not going to change your life. But it is quick and flavourful, and helped two very broken people feel a little bit better after a long day of traveling. I also prefer this to the compact city centre venue by Bull Ring, and the pretty but ‘run by morons’ venue in Brindleyplace.
Are you a fan of wagamama? Let me know in the comments.
wagamama, 98 New Street, Birmingham, B2 4HS
Disclosure: We paid in full. All self pity and up close soup pics are mine