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London: Wagamama or Abeno Too?

HappyTraveling Feb 3, 2009 01:55 PM

Will be in London for a long weekend and have a 'slot' open for fastfood Japanese.
Which should I go for ?

  1. i
    isabelle94 Feb 5, 2009 01:09 PM

    My vote goes for Abeno. There are Wagamama-esque type eateries in most big cities (i.e. Republic in NYC) so it's hardly a 'now or never' experience. Abeno, on the other hand, serves okonomiyaki which is harder to find. The food is good and it's an interesting experience since they prepare the okonomiyaki in front of you. And what better place to warm up on a cold winter's day than in front of a hot grill, watching your food cook!

    1. limster Feb 4, 2009 02:05 PM

      BTW, roughly in the same price-range if less, is Asakusa near Mornington Crescent. There's already been many raves on the board. It's an izakaya, but you'll be able to get a whole range of items including donburi, noodles, sushi... The koroke/croquette is outstanding, one of the best of its kind.

      2 Replies
      1. re: limster
        foreignmuck Feb 4, 2009 02:36 PM

        ^^^ yes! forgot about that.
        well worth checking out.

        1. re: limster
          limster Feb 4, 2009 03:08 PM

          I should also add the excellent yakitori at Tosa in Hammersmith.

        2. f
          foreignmuck Feb 4, 2009 01:28 PM

          forget wagamama's. its the poorest excuse for Japanese food ever.
          ditto yo sushi.

          Abeno too is actually pretty authentic and is one of the few places in London that does Okonomiyaki. (infact it's the only place i know of other than stalls at Brick lane market)

          for reasonable, cheep sushi thats much better than yo, try kulu kulu. on brewer street or in covent garden....

          1. i
            Ibrahim.Salha Feb 4, 2009 11:22 AM

            Go to Tsuru on Bankside. Great Katsu curry and bento boxes. Fantastic sushi, too, but the cooked food is what I always get.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ibrahim.Salha
              limster Feb 4, 2009 01:35 PM

              Make that another vote for Tsuru, I really dig the pork katsu curry. However, that's only for lunch - they have a slightly different menu for dinner. I would also double check that they're open on weekends.

              1. re: limster
                Ibrahim.Salha Feb 4, 2009 03:24 PM

                Oh yes, I didn't read the opening post properly. Sorry OP, limster is right, it's not open on weekends.

            2. abby d Feb 4, 2009 10:01 AM

              wagamama is terrible unless, perhaps, you've never been to a decent noodle place.

              5 Replies
              1. re: abby d
                brendastarlet Feb 4, 2009 02:17 PM

                That's too harsh. As an American, I was interested in their menu and in the point of sale capability of their servers. That hasn't quite gotten to where I live yet. I also enjoyed the atmosphere. Sure, it isn't 100% authentic, but sometimes visitors are willing to settle for slightly less authenticity for an interesting experience.

                1. re: brendastarlet
                  pj26 Feb 5, 2009 02:37 AM

                  I agree - that is too harsh. As I said in my post further up the board, it does what it does well. I don't think they, or anyone that dines there is under any ilusion it's 'authentic'. Its a fast food noodle place - I've been to plenty of noodle places and each has it's own merits. For ease, convenience, value and a good plate of yaki udon, give it a go.

                  1. re: pj26
                    zuriga1 Feb 5, 2009 02:48 AM

                    My husband lived in Japan for a long time. He says some of the dishes served at Wagamama are also eaten in Japan. I think that makes it quasi-authentic if not more. And how many of those saying it's NOT authentic have actually eaten in Japan, the country?

                    1. re: zuriga1
                      foreignmuck Feb 5, 2009 02:56 PM

                      I was born in Japan, lived there for 12 years and have been back every year since... I have never had chicken karaage containing oregano like they have in Wagamamas.. The ramen is often way too soft and the soup just wishy washy.. I guess I have been spoilt with the ramen in Japan.. Im crying out for a decent noodle place here in London. As far as i;m aware, one does not yet exist.

                  2. re: brendastarlet
                    PhilD Feb 5, 2009 03:16 AM

                    McDonald's has good POS capabilities, their menu has some great American classics on it and OK it isn't 100% authentic.......but it does what it does well.

                    IMO it is always a relative assessment, Wagamama is OK if you are not aware of the better places out there. Thanks to hounds like Limster, Ibrahim, Foreignmuck there are some good alternatives. Compared to these is Wagamama good or terrible? I know whose advice I would follow.

                2. c
                  copyrighter Feb 4, 2009 04:08 AM

                  Waga's chicken chili ramen is my guilty pleasure.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: copyrighter
                    brendastarlet Feb 4, 2009 04:25 AM

                    Having lived in Japan, I can tell you Wagamama is not Japanese per se. It's kind of an Asian fusionish place. That said, they do a chicken katsu curry that is as close to authentic as you can find (except in a Japanese restaurant.) Ask them to put the curry on the side. I also am a fan of the potstickers.

                    You could try one of the Yo, Sushi! places if you would like to see kaiten sushi in action.

                  2. p
                    pj26 Feb 4, 2009 02:45 AM

                    I love Wagamama although it does have its detractors. What it does it does pretty well - quick noodles (dont expect sushi etc) for a good price.
                    If you want more of a bento box option or sushi as well as noodles, I would recommend Satsuma on Wardour St in Soho

                    1. limster Feb 3, 2009 02:14 PM

                      Haven't been to Wagamama, but I do like Abeno Too. Old thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555382

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