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Wagamama open today?

Just saw this on my Outlook calendar. Duh!

Anybody go for lunch?

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  1. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393777; fell off the front page...

    1. I walked by it, looked like a lot of people were there...

      1. just had lunch there. bottom line: decent minimalist decor, but didn't get to see downstairs; very shaky service (at a table of four, dishes arrived in two pairs, separated by an unexplained twenty minutes); food just north of bland.

        it's edible, and i'd probably go there again. but it's just more of the same for the existing repertoire of serviceable faneuil hall counter food; nothing paradigm-shifting here.

        i'd still prefer the chicken teriyaki with noodles just inside the colonnade at megumi.

        10 Replies
        1. re: coookie

          that's disappointing. There was a very brief mention of the chain in this month's bon appetit, and it got me excited that we were their first US venture.

          Does anyone know where they're going into Harvard Sq? Is it where the old structure/limited space (underneath the empty HMV) is being renovated?

          1. re: bostonman

            they are going into the galleria on JFK street

            1. re: maxevan

              That strikes me as a slightly weird location. The Galleria's such a blah little bit of out of date development. Any idea which space they're going into?

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                I read that they are going in the space that is downstairs from Bombay Club by Winthrop St.

                1. re: michela

                  Funny. I read they were going in the Church St. space that housed Rock Bottom and Brew Moon... Just looked at their web site and it says 57 JFK St. I believe that is the Bombay Club building.

                  1. re: kittychow

                    There's a large space on the lower/basement level that used to have a restaurant in it a while back. That may be the spot.

                2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  It looks nice, actually, similar to OM. I'll probably be checking it out today, see if it can hold up to Porter's places, which I doubt but am optimistic as it's more convenient.

                  1. re: sailormouth

                    It was all right, Porter is better by far. Service was great: quick, efficient, friendly. Seemed like kitchen may have been a tad on the slow side. Veggies in the spicy chicken ramen I got were good, chicken tasted like something out of a Tyson bag.

                    I don't know how cold it gets in London, but they're going to have major issues when winter comes, as there seems to be no accommodation whatsoever for coats etc. . .

            2. re: coookie

              we went by there tonight, but there was a line..we waited for abt 10 minutes but it didn't seem to be moving all that quickly so we went inside to the food court instead. it looked to me like things were humming but wait staff was definitely busy. i'd cut 'em a little slack since it was their first day open and they were obviously jamming.

              1. re: coookie

                I can't explain away the 20 minute delay (other than just shaking out the kinks) but at the Wagamamas in the UK that I ate at, bringing each dish out as soon as it's ready instead of waiting for all of the table's dishes to cook was the standard operating procedure.

              2. Dippy Sheryl Julian, the Globe's favorite waste of newsprint, devoted two full pages of breathless gushing to Wagamama today. The amusing part is that even in this brainless puff piece, there were complaints about the quality of the food. Even the recipe added on admits that in a dish called "soba," they use ramen noodles, not soba noodles.

                I suspect that Wagamama (I refuse to spell it lower case, which is apparently what you're supposed to do) will end up being about as successful in Boston as Krispy Kreme was. And we saw how well THAT worked out. In the meantime, see you at Ken's Ramen.

                8 Replies
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  Hmmm I dunno. I bet they end up being pretty successful. There are LOTS of middle-america tourists visiting Faneuil Hall who might be inspired to try some "ethnic" food. And fairly middle-of-the-road, safe, bland Asian will probably fit the bill perfectly.

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    Yeah, witness the support, even on this board, for a place like Betty's Wok and Noodle, which serves the same demographic i the Huntington Theatre and Symphony Hall area.

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      We filled out a seruvey and got a free entree, appetizer nad 2 drinks each before they opened (did this Friday night). It was OK. It would be an acceptable food choice to go w/ all of Fanueil Hall's other choices... I got the veggie yaki soba and the raman noodles did put me off a bit. IT's not that it wasn't good but I have had better yaki soba. Their fresh juice was good though. The staff was really nice. TO me it was jsut another type of "fast food" for the area.

                    2. re: twentyoystahs

                      which is why they pick locations like faneuil hall and harvard square. another need-not-try, imho.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        We went b/c it was free.. other wise I don't think we would have...

                    3. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      I think they will be successful. They certainly have good marketing buzz right now.

                      However anyone who raves this place is caught up in the concept and has never had good pho. I went one on the UK, it was fine, but nothing special.

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        Where is Ken's Ramen?

                        1. re: onefoodguy

                          The Super 88 food court in Packard's Corner, Allston. It's not in the food court proper, but in a separate room between the food court and the supermarket. When you go, try to sit at the bar: it's a treat to watch the surgical precision these guys have when preparing a bowl of noodles.

                      2. Obviously this is not "authentic" Asian food or fine dining. But as a *fast food chain* concept, I was always delighted by Wagamama for a quick lunch when visiting London on business. Super fast sit down service and the nature of the food was light years better than what you would expect here at an Au Bon Pain, Sebastian's, McD's, or whatever. I also always thought Pret a Manger could do well here.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: samovar32

                          I went tonight and enjoyed my meal. We didn't wait long. The service was OK...a bit slow. Was it the most authentic, spiciest, incredible meal I've ever had? No, but it was a good honest meal on a chilly rainy night.

                          Pret a Manger would be mangled here in the states.

                          1. re: tallullah

                            Hasn't Pret a Manger been in NYC for at least two years?

                            1. re: a l i c e

                              It's been here longer than that; I remember eating at one in NYC in July 2001, and the official website says it opened in NYC in mid-2000: http://www.pret.com/us/about.htm

                              1. re: ursamajor

                                But there's only 1 or 2, I believe...not like in London. Pret is the only fast-food chain I've ever gotten excited about seeing on every corner...

                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                  No, there's more like 20 locations in NYC.

                        2. I'm surprised wagamama even dared enter the US market even as Ajisen Ramen is cranking up its invasion plans.

                          There's no wagamama in San Francisco, but I spotted the wagamama cookbook on sale at the bookstore in our vaunted Ferry Building Marketplace......

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            There was an Ajisen Ramen in the Super 88 food court at Packard's Corner when it opened. Made a big fuss about how it was one of the first US outlets of a popular Japanese chain. Closed in less than two years because the product was nothing special, especially for the price. (Certainly wasn't because there wasn't a market for ramen, since Ken's is in the same building now and is packed every night.) So that's why I think Wagamama isn't long for this town.

                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                              The Ajisen in 88 was an abomination! An embarrasment! Their product didn't deserve
                              to be called "ramen"..in fact one time I tried it I rather suspected them to be using some
                              cheap supermarket vermicelli it was so NOT ramen. Oy..so glad they are long gone.

                              (how an authentically Japanese chain could've had such a horrible stall was quite a
                              suprise to me)

                              1. re: amatto

                                That sounds like the experience we had here with Yoshinoya, to me.

                                Maybe Ajisen localizes; the branch I tried in Shanghai had obviously fresh northern-style (larger diameter) noodles, a very hearty broth, and better quality beef brisket than you usually find in pork-centric Shanghai. They must be doing something right, as they now have 32 branches in Shanghai.

                                The only branch to date in the SF Bay area (I haven't been, it's 40 miles from me) has also gotten a positive early notice from one of our most savvy noodle-heads. The noodles in tanspace's photos don't appear to be as quite as large (in diameter) or as straight as the ones I recall in Shanghai, giving a bit of credence to the localization theory.

                                http://eat.tanspace.com/2007/04/16/aj...

                          2. Just an FYI - called about take-out orders - they are not doing it now, but will be in two weeks per my phone call. Their take-out business for the lunch crowd should help sustain them past the predictions of an early demise.

                            1. Went last night. Service was laughably terrible. Every time I saw a server bring out a dish, they brought it to the wrong people. Same with drinks and beer. One server resorted to yelling out, "Who has a number 36?" (Btw, the servers write the numbers of people's orders in large script on their place mats. So I don't know why servers don't just look!)

                              They messed up my order, assured me that it had been taken care of, and then after a while, sent me my noodles with the ingredient that I had specifically asked them to not include prominently displayed. I sighed, picked it out, and ate it anyway. My friend's ramen was overcooked.

                              I saw one couple who placed an order receive one dish, and then nothing for a good 20-30 minutes. So the girl wound up finishing her noodles before the guy got his.

                              Food is way overpriced, and I have had vastly superior ramen and soba in NYC for half the price. Taste was not bad but nothing special, definitely not worth the lines. In Boston, I'd rather go to Pho Pasteur and pay one-half to one-third the price.

                              I am sure that they will work out the kinks in their service but you'd pretty much have to give me a free meal to go back.

                              I think a big part of the hype is that wagamama chose Boston as their first outpost, which makes us feel special and not overlooked. If wagamama had tried this in NYC, where there's a lot more competition, they would be closed in 6 months.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: windycity

                                I agree that the soba, dumpling, and ramen choices in NY are much better, too. My husband and I were talking about The Dumpling Man as we walked later that day.

                              2. We were so determined to escape the heat and humidity when we visited from NYC this weekend, that we hit the Aquarium. In our travels after, we decided we could use "snack" so we ventured into Wagamama having never seen one before.
                                It was quite good! Our service was very attentive and everything we ate was great. We had the gyoza, ebi gyoza, ebi katsu and negime yakitori. Toob bad we weren't more hungry b/c the noodle dishes looked delicious and so did the salads. if I was down in that area again, I'd go back for more.

                                1. I absolutely do NOT understand all of the negative posts on this place. Wagamama is so much better than your usual local Asian restaurant. Their ingredients are fresh, the flavors bright, the food arrives piping hot. It's very tasty food. It may not be "authentic," but I don't know many westerners who would appreciate authentic Asian food anyway.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    My criticism stems from the fact that the Boston location does not measure up to my experiences in the UK whith the same chain. My memory could be playing tricks on me, but the end result is the same - mild dissapointment.

                                    I am not sure how you define usual local asian, however I think there are much better options in Boston. Hopefully the Harvard Square location will hit closer to the mark of what I remember Wagamama to be.