Going, Going, GONE……..OH NO!
I first discovered this ‘chain’ in the basement of Harvey Nicks across from our digs (the Sheraton Park Tower, 7th floor at the time…..) in London. For whatever reason, we alternated three week periods in the U.K. at the time— and the food took about as much time to reach our room via the service trolly laden with fish ‘n’ chips as it did to cross the street for a nosh. Somehow, even at London department store prices (sssssssh: don’t tell Yo!! Sushi) we still seemed to fare better with Harvey.
We’d descend from the outside of the shop into their basement arrangement which featured dormitory lunchroom tables spanning the restaurant and a serving/cooking crew that resembled ex-roadies for the Sex Pistols after a bad night not minding the bullocks…… I’ve never seen so much body piercing….not that I hang around looking for it unbidden, but it was memorable.
The wait staff (the entire tattoo’ed handful of them) would rotate the room and scrawl your order by number on the white table mat in place before you. I normally opted for the YakiSoba or the Chili Beef Ramen. They didn’t offer soft drinks, but rather some strange fruit concoctions that usually settled in a disturbing way before arriving to the recipient. It all looked a bit like a science experiment gone awry. Nothing that I ever learned about cooking can’t be attributed to fractional distillation and a lab partner.
Outside of London and the eclectic quasi Japanese menu (and, boy, you should see my disappointment when I had the actual JAPANESE version of Yaki Soba in Nara, Japan–It is to the noodle what a slice of New York Pizza would be in Napoli……and I think my uncultured Palate prefers the adaptation.) I am not familiar with the establishment in the U.S. (but I did buy their cookbook through Barnes and Nobel online.)
FYI (yeah, you’re all hanging in there with bated breath): Wagamama translated from the ‘Nihongo’ means Selfish…sort of ‘I want it the way that I want it.’ Works for me.
I never really felt comfortable enough with the ‘Johnny Rottens’ to actually demand more than a fork, but Wagamama it was.
After about two years (and enough consumed noodles to probably by rights own part of the stock in the company as it is….) I shuffled my business to play the currency exchange, and I next found myself taking slightly longer junkets to the Pacific Rim vs. Europe—- first stop Sydney.
My son who had grooved to a couple solid years of Chili Beef Ramen at this point was downright buoyant as he spied a Wagamama outpost on George Street en route to our hotel. That pretty much sewed up our nightly dinner requirements while ‘down under’…….(Lucky us….He also found that they sponsor a cafe style venue at the Airport.)
As I type this with nostalgia, I’m starting to wonder if I should buy Wagamamas (did I buy Wagamamas?). That could solve a lot of my Tokyo dining dilemmas……but, no. We’ll just stick with the shirts.