Wagamama for wakame

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Japanese cuisine is one of the things which won me round entirely only a few years ago. Since then, I actually can’t go a week without Asian food.

So we went to Wagamama at Spinola Bay, St. Julian’s, a place I kept an eye on for some time. Their concept is described as “fresh, flavoursome food that is served quickly by our friendly team.” I couldn’t wait to let that be proven to me.

I noticed in surprise that the venue homed 2 restaurants in one place, as there’s another Japanese with a Sushi train. We had to pass this to the back and had a seat.
The interior gave the impression of a usual restaurant on the one hand and a fast-food place on the other. But as they target giving the atmosphere of a Japanese ramen shop, anyway – aim achieved. Glamorous designs are not to be expected.

Always offering special juices of the day, I decided for the apple, carrot and ginger juice, which was definitely fresh, self-made and didn’t miss any flavour. My friend had a Japanese beer, Asahi super dry. Maltese people love their local Cisk, but this might not be to sniffed at, either. Give it a try next time you have the chance.

We were excited about the starters, I love wakame salad and am always curious how different restaurants prepare it – I have never tasted the same salad twice until now. It was totally worth the try, probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The shredded carrot, spring onions and red chilli added to it gave some delicious variation.
Plus we had edamame with chilli and garlic salt. Interesting alternative to the usual sea salt edamame – we thought. Think again. Rather a disappointment, as sometimes less is more in seasoning and more to the point, the edamame lacked quality.

My friend took the yasai katsu curry as a main dish, which had sweet potato, eggplant and butternut squash deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs, served with a curry sauce and sticky white rice, garnished with dressed mixed leaves and red pickles.
It was was nice enough but she couldn’t finish it as we both liked the wakame salad we had before so much.

For my part, my multiple dietary requirements made it a bit hard to find the right dish. The helpful and patient waitress could tell me about every ingredient used, but also couldn’t change the fact of the availability of only a few vegetarian options and since in Japanese cuisine lactose-intolerance is not a big problem thanks to coconut milk, gluten-intolerance is.

Eventually the endeavoured waitress suggested that the cook could just do a vegetarian buckwheat noodle dish. I usually don’t trust these offers, as I experienced that cooks tend to take small pains to create a whole new and tasty dish. But being tired of discussing, I finally approved.

My dish was, expectedly but as hoped-for differently, nothing special. I hardly found any flavour, and apart from mushrooms, onions and mangetouts, I missed so many vegetables which could have made it more tasteful. Pumpkin, eggplants, even a creamy sauce made of coconut milk would have added flavour.
An advice for all of you and a reminder for myself: only order dishes from the menu (which have already offered options).

This might not be my place of first choice for vegetarians, but in case you’re “only” food-allergic, you’ll have some more options (check their website for more info).
Nevertheless, prices are moderate and if you go, try the goma wakame salad and probably just ask if they can replace anything meaty with tofu or the like to extend the choices. Actually, why not offer vegetarian options for all the dishes anyway, as I can’t imagine it to be a huge effort.


St. George’s Road 7a, Spinola Bay, St. Julian’s

Monique Chambers

Monique started indulge in 2011 and has since created Indulge Me GIFT and Indulge Me FOOD and volume 1 of The Artists Directory - Malta. A marketing professional by trade, Monique's passion is to promote local talent and Malta in general. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something beautiful and with freshly coiffed hair!)

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