Wagamama, Boston, MA

On a trip with some friends, I ended up eating at Wagamama in Boston, and checking out their modern and funky flair. I only ordered some cheesecake, but the lovely humans around me were more than inclined to share their dishes, too! The restaurant had a bright, bustling family style atmosphere of eating, with benches on long tables, and during that time, I got really close to the people I was with.

First on the menu was the ebi chilli mein, ordered by the wonderful Lily and eaten, for a good part, by me! It’s a shrimp and noodle based dish with lots of veggies and a red chili and tomato sauce on top. The vegetables were roasted and charred to perfection, and the noodles were both tender and firm, perfectly covered in sauce. There was a good deal of vegetables and a wide range within the dish, but I mainly got peppers, which had a good char, but not as much of a crunch as I’d have liked.Because of the stir fry method of cooking, every single piece of food got dunked in this fantastic chili sauce, which was savory and bright red. Although the sauce had tomatoes in it, I found it slightly egregious that they billed it as a chili sauce when the predominant flavor was tomato, but the sauce had a light kick and a different consistency than your run of the mill marinara.

Of course, there’s always a protein in these dishes, and in this case, it was shrimp. Having never been a fan of shrimp because of some bad seafood at a hibachi restaurant some six years back, I’ve always stayed away from the little crustaceans, but in this dish, it was hard to resist. In my portion alone, roughly 1/3 of the plate, I had at least five big, beautiful, curled shrimp, perfectly pink and bursting with juices. With the noodles and the sauce that they’d soaked up, they had the consistency and moistness of a good cooked chicken breast, with that shrimpy texture, slightly corrugated, and a nice burst, they were a perfect addition to the noodle and vegetable medley, even better than chicken.While I was eating all of that goodness, my cheesecake came. It wasn’t just any cheesecake, though. It was a ginger cheesecake on a biscuit base, with white chocolate sauce on top. It was a pretty hefty slice for $3.95, and immediately, I could smell the fresh ginger coming up from the cake. The cheesecake was very moist and creamy, but the texture was different. Within the creamy part, there were little strands, almost like eating an orange, with a similar palatable tang and mouthfeel. That was the ginger, and it juxtaposed the cream cheese base with a spicy POW of heat and that wonderful ginger flavor. I like that this wasn’t just a regular cheesecake made with ginger extract or powder, because with the strands of silky ginger, it just went that extra step to making it perfect and firmer than your average cheesecake.

The white chocolate, though thinly drizzled, added a big flavor to the cheesecake as a whole, too. I thought imparted a slightly sweeter flavor to the cake and, like powdered sugar, made it slightly sugary and gave a nice little texture differentiation to it, too. I think that the only part of the cake that I wasn’t gushing over was the biscuit crust. While it was definitely an original crust, reminding me of arrowroot biscuits, it was thin and mushy underneath, unable to handle the liquids from the cake, and wasn’t crunchy or exciting at all.Now although that was the dessert section of the meal, a few friends and I had ordered the Japanese flatbread as a side and it arrived late, so it was free! So, technically speaking, we had that for dessert. What I thought would be a pillowy, naan resembling bread with toppings on top, hence flatbread, was actually more of a Japanese quesadilla. It was stuffed to the gills with toppings, with monterey jack cheese, chicken, scallions, and sweet corn. The cheese, which is supposed to be sharp, was bland, though gooey, and was more flavorful with the chicken added to it. That was moist and covered in soy sauce, with nice little chunks for easy eating. I was expecting a lot more sweet corn in the bread, as that was what really drew me to it, along with the dipping sauce, but the amount was scattered and sparse, but still sweet when I bit into it. No scallion flavor to be found, rather, they were used as more of a garnish than a flavor additive.

The dipping sauce was strange. What was supposedly chili sauce was more of a paprika tasting, mayonnaise/salad dressing conglomerate with a strange aftertaste that I wasn’t able to quite place. I wasn’t a big fan of that and favored the plain flatbread over the bread with the sauce. A shame because generally sauces at restaurants are tasty, but this one was off. All in all, I’d love to try more of Wagamama’s offerings, and thought that dinner with friends was fantastic and fun. I look forward to more of it in the summertime.

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