The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


Wagamama: Pan-Asian Franchise Spices Up Cairo Dining

  • CityStars, Phase 2, 4th Floor
  • Japanese
  • noon - midnight -
reviewed by
Jennifer Brooks
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Wagamama: Pan-Asian Franchise Spices Up Cairo Dining

Healthy and fast-food are two terms you rarely see
together, yet Wagamama does exactly that by offering fresh, vegetable-based dishes
that are both nutritious and quickly made. With a wide variety of Asian-inspired
dishes, there is always something interesting to try, though you might want to
stick to the numbers because the names are almost impossible to pronounce.

This international chain opened its first branch in London
in the early nineties, and it’s renowned for its healthy fast-food selection of
noodles, curries and fresh juice combinations from East Asia at relatively
affordable prices. The restaurant’s first Cairo branch is located in City
Stars, with another branch recently opened in Nile City Towers.

The restaurant’s décor is everything you’d expect from
a Japanese restaurant chain, with a friendly IKEA touch: modern, clean lines,
simple bench seating and sleek wooden tables, which hold a convenient shelf to
store your shopping bags on. After a long day of shopping, it can be a peaceful
place to stop by for a nutritious bite.

Waiters jot your order on paper place settings and the
food is brought out promptly, regardless of whether or not your dining
companion’s order is complete. The service is efficient and friendly, though it
can seem a bit awkward, especially when the waiter has to lean across the table
to scrawl your order number with a marker onto your place mat.

Start with the
edamame (29LE), steamed and salted baby soybeans in their pods; or the ebi
gyoza, deep-fried prawn and vegetables in steamed dumplings (28LE). The negima
yakitori (22LE) consists of three skewers of grilled chicken pieces covered in
a sweet yakitori sauce. As bountiful as the menu is, recommended main course
favourites are the chicken teriyaki (#92, 39LE). The glaze balances sweet and
savoury sauces, and the rice is delicately flavoured with spring onions. A side
salad has some sort of mystery dressing, perhaps sesame ginger? We’ve yet to
solve the riddle.

The saien soba (29LE) is a large soup bowl filled with
whole-wheat noodles and vegetables in a lemongrass-flavoured soup; a cheap and
very filling meal for vegetarians and dieters. The amai udon (36LE) is another
favourite: whole-wheat noodles are tossed with prawns, tofu and been spouts in
a tamarind sauce. For protein, try the chicken katsu curry (49LE); the breaded
chicken is absolutely delicious with a touch of sweetness to its batter, while the
curry can be made mild enough for even the weakest constitutions.

Sadly, the desserts are terrible. Steer clear even if
you are feeling bold– the chilli chocolate cake has a plastic-like texture and the
chilli is far from subtle, while the cheesecake tastes the same way that cleaning
detergents smell. Hold off on deserts and stick to what Wagamama does well:
flavourful noodles, satay and curries, all seasoned to perfection.

360 Tip

As obvious as it may sound, take special care to avoid the most crowded days; the open restaurant makes it impossible to ignore the surrounding food-court ambiance. This is not ideal for a romantic date place, but great for big groups or for a quick meal.

Best Bit

The noodle entrées are the tastiest menu items, and Wagamama has few competitors in the Capital for their soba, ramen and glass noodles.

Worst Bit

The desserts! Avoid ending a tasty meal on a down-note by bypassing the desserts.

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