Hats off to Wagamama for stepping outside the box, with it’s latest menu addition. As Veganuary comes to an end – but the nations interest in Vegan diets continues – Wagamama’s has become the first major UK restaurant to launch a vegan “tuna”.
For those wondering, it is made from watermelon fruit (the first thing I did was scroll to the ingredients!).
The dish will be featured nationwide throughout January, in which I headed to The Printworks Wagamama restaurant to try out the plant-based menu. Now I’m not Vegan, nor am I am vegetarian. I do, however, tend to lean towards meat-free options when it comes to dining out and cooking at home. You’ll find my freezers stuffed with Quorn (for convenience, I won’t lie, that stuff is mega easy to cook) and I love a bit of Tofu if it’s on offer.
What is Vegan Tuna?
Vegan tuna is where the vegan fish is made with dehydrated watermelon which is then sliced, seared and served hot, which apparently gives it the look and texture of tuna sashimi. The texture is slightly ‘slimy’ but it packs in a good taste. Very watermelon tasting rather than fish, which for some reason, I was kinda glad about. I suppose I like tinned tuna, but I’m not too fond of it as a ‘steak’ of fish.
I was intrigued about this dish so I asked the team about how it is made, in which they said the chefs slice the fruit and then put it in brine with salt, helping with the flavour.
The chefs then cook the steak at a low temperature for a longer period of time in a water bath, which allows the watermelon to soften. Then, a miso sesame sauce is added along with the ‘tuna’ being sat on a bed of white rice, with soy seasoning, radish, kale and tenderstem broccoli. You also get avocado, edamame beans and tofu guacamole.
I was lucky enough to try out a full range of Vegan treats from Wagamama at The Printworks, and I do have to say the tuna was probably my least favourite, although it was definitely edible and I can;t say I disliked it, but I just overly loved everything else!
I’m not even vegan but I would 100% recommend dining from the vegan menu at Wagamama’s to anyone. And that is coming from a die hard Chicken Katsu Curry order-er!
Take a little look at the dish options on the menu shots below. Alternatively, you can check out the website here.
So lets take a look at their very first dedicated vegan menu, and some of the offerings. First up in terms of starters and sharers was the Bang Bang Cauliflower: a dish made up of crispy cauliflower. firecracker sauce. red + spring onion, seasoned with fresh ginger and coriander. I only usually enjoy my cauliflower coated with cheese, so I was surprised at how tasty this dish is.
Certainly a delicious way to enjoy cauliflower – seasoned really nicely.
I also wasn’t aware that the mushroom + panko aubergine buns were already existing on the menu, yet have just had a refresh. These were potentially one of my favourites, I could have eaten these by the bucket load. Along with the fluffy, soft bao bun, the panko aubergine and mushrooms are covered with vegan sriracha mayo. meaning they’re 100% vegan. My word, these are a must!
Second to the mushroom and aubergine buns, the yasai steamed dumplings were a close favourite. These are steamed, and then served grilled with a dipping sauce to give them a little extra kick. I feel like the dumplings were cooked perfectly, all soft yet firm, with a slight crispy touch to them from the grill. They are packed with a variety of veggies, and make a brilliant source of veg and also an enjoyable sharer!
A new addition to the menu is the Vegetable Tempura. Not a new dish in general in the world of dining out, however Wagamama have given this starter or sharer dish a little twist. You can find tenderstem broccoli, red pepper, sweet potato + asparagus all crispy friend, with wakame and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Technically you’re getting some of the key vegetables here muddle together in a light golden crisp coating. Thoroughly enjoyed these! A more filling one to share.
Lastly, 5 of us more than enjoyed sharing a couple of bowls of the fail safe edamame beans with salt, and edamame beans with chilli. These are always a great addition when dining out, and especially the chilli seasoned ones!
Now for the mains! In all honesty I was a little torn when it came to ordering a main course, as they all equally sounded quite delightful. However I settled with the Avant Gard’n, which turned out to be a good shout because I literally couldn’t fault this dish!
Firstly, it’s made in collaboration with Gaz Oakley, with the ‘key ingredient’ being barbecue-glazed seitan. I wasn’t too familiar with seitan before – i’ll be honest – but I have no idea why, as this stuff tasted beautiful with the glaze. Kind of a cross between a soft chicken/pork, all BBQ infused. It came served with a coconut and sriracha vegan ‘egg’, grilled shiitake mushrooms and asparagus on a bed of brown rice. topped with edamame beans, carrots and spring onions. To finish, the dish was dressed with a sweet amai sauce and garnished with sesame seeds and fresh lime.
The ‘meat’ (seitan) couldn’t be faulted. Probably enjoyed it more than BBQ chicken, and that is coming from a meat eater. I’m not a fan of egg, so their quirky take on this was spot on. Plus, the brown rice gave it a filling yet healthy touch, muddles with fresh veggies. The drizzles and glaze finished it off well, although I added a touch of Wagamama chilli sauce to it, which I would recommend for adding a slight bit of ‘hot’ to it.
Overly impressed with this dish – 10/10.
Among the group we tried a few dishes for tasting purposes that we hadn’t ordered, which was a great way to be able to share a little more with you all.
The one’s that stood out and I felt were worthy of a shout out included the Kare Buruso, a dish made up of shichimi-coated silken tofu. grilled mixed mushrooms. pea shoots. carrot. chilli. coriander. udon noodles, all in a curried vegetable broth.
The noodles were thick and chunky, lightly spiced and downright delicious. These are the type of noodles I feel go perfectly with silken tofu.
And of course, there are dedicated vegan desserts! The line up of ‘ice cream’ made the vegan way includes Chocolate and Orange Blossom served with a passion fruit coulis and fresh mint, Strawberry and Yuzu ‘ice cream’ served with a raspberry compote and fresh mint, and the incredibly yummy Mango and Matcha Layer cake, made with matcha cream, vanilla sponge, yuzu cream, mango + passion fruit purée served with a raspberry compote
The Chocolate and Orange Blossom ‘ice cream’ was my favourite of all, mainly because the chocolate orange was tangy and rich, just dream really. The Matcha Cake potentially a close second. The cream tasted like ‘normal cream’ so to speak, indulgent yet slightly lighter, with fluffy vanilla sponge.
Price wise, the ‘tuna’ is around £13 which some have said is slightly expensive, but it is worth bearing in mind the quality of the ingredients and the extra time it takes to cook. Other than that, most dishes fall in line with Wagamama’s usual pricing.
I geneuinley enjoy Wagamama at The Printworks when I need to dine out on my own, as it welcomes that friendly, dining alone vibe. Yet on the other hand, I always consider it for when a group of us are eating, due to all the starters which make lovely sharers!
Thanks to all the team for heaving me.