Veganuary and Wagamama

The whole meal, and the £20 voucher have been gifted by Wagamama Coventry. My opinions remain my own.

I have been moving away from meat in recent months, and although I don’t think going to be a vegan any time soon, but I have been taking advantage of the Vegauary offerings around Coventry.

I have been to a few of the coffee shop chains over Christmas, and discovered that there was a trend for vegan Christmas dinner sandwiches, whicj kicked the bland turkey version in the ass! The Cafe Nero sandwich was my favourite, which included a sweet potato fritter, braised red cabbage, kale, vegan mayo and grated carrot.

Vegan Christmas dinner panini

Veganisum is popular in some parts of the city (many places around FarGo village offer vegan food, cakes and drinks.) and most places these days offer milk alternatives, and vegan cakes. But Veganuary widens the feels, so that more places offer a fuller menu, to increase the moment which is becoming more and more popular, especially with millennials.

Veganuary also gives businesses a chance to dip their toe in the creativity that Vegan food requires. It unfortunately can highlight the issues within the businesses kitchens, and food preparation. In the last week, for example, I have dined in two places and eaten the vegan offerings. The first place offered to cut my vegan sweet potato fritter, it only had a meat knife available to do so! The second, came with chips, what tasted distinctly fishy, as if they had been cooked in the same oil as their battered fish.

This is some thing that needs to be looked at. I know that with the introduction of a vegan burger at KFC, staff were advised that chips were not vegan as the same oils was used for the chicken. Although this, like the use of a meat knife, is good to share, surely having separate equipment for vegetables /meat is simple good practices!

Mixed mushroom and panko aubergine hiragana steamed buns

This weekend, I was luck enough be invited to Wagamama, Cathedral Lanes, Coventry. I was gifted a full vegan meal for myself plus one!

Wagamama has long been a favourite and safe restaurant for me to eat in. They are consistent across the country, and they have a fast and efficient mode of service. The Coventry branch was one of the first restaurants to open up on Broadgate in the redeveloped Cathedral Lanes.

A small selection of the full vegan menu at Wagamama in the UK

Over the past few years, they have slowly built up their Vegan menu, and now it is a full menu in its own right. This includes starters, sides, mains, deserts and drinks! And I must say, I had a really hard choice choosing, everything was so well described, and sounded delicious. Between the two of us, we ordered a started/ side, a main each, a drink and a dessert. this meant we got a great overview of the quality, style and diversity of the menu!

Sukura spritz; cherry blossom, rose wine, pink grapefruit, Campari and bianco vermouth,

To begin with, I was surprised to see that Wagamama has started doing cocktails! And totally vegan to boot! (Many standard alcohols use animal products in the making). Cocktails are growing in popularity over the last few years, as it is about complexed flavours, and the theatre of the live creation. Although Wagamama haven’t invested in a mixologist in every branch, as I’m sure this would push the price point up, the Sakura spritz that I tried was delicious, and not your standard offerings available elsewhere.

I love “picky bits”, food that can be shared, and eaten with the hands. The steamed buns and Gyoza totally fall into this! The Steamed bread was beautiful and fluffy, the panko aubaguine was crisp and the texture was a fantastic contrast. The shitake mushrooms were packed with flavour. The Siriacha spicy vegan mayo was requested on the side, as my partner wasn’t a fan last time, but I loved. I felt it was good to have it on the side so that I could choose how much I wanted to add! My partner thought these were the best bit of the meal as said “I could literally eat these forever!”

The pan fried gyoza were really nice, one side was crispy, while the other would have been cooked with the steam from the vegetables inside the dumplings. They had lots of filling, which were finely grated. My favourite bit was the amazing dipping sauce. Which seemed to be a vinegar based sauce with the zing of chilliest, and the hit of fresh herbs, yum!

Starters / side dishes

For my main, I ordered Tofu Pad Thai. Wagamama do really nice tofu, good sized cubes, which are silken and well cooked. A Vegan staple which they can’t afford to get wrong! The noodles were soft and tasty, the herbs were fresh and full of flavour, and the squeeze of lime over the top cut through the slight greasiness of the noodles. I’d have loved a few different vegetable, as leeks, shallots, spring onions and red onions equal a lot of onions! (Which I personally love, but a bit of variation would have been even better!)

Pad Thai and “Tuna”
Yasai pad Thai

We had to try the Veganary special, the Suika “Tuna”. Made out of slices of watermelon which had been dehydrated, marinated and wok seared, it was like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. I thought it has the texture of of raw or cured fish, but had a fruity juice pop of moisture. It wasn’t sweet like I expected, and the subtle marinade could have done with a touch more saltiness. In fact, the pho.e dish was lovely, but seemed to lack the umph of flavour that seasoning could have brought. Delicious, unusual, but the texture could be off putting for some.

Vegan Suika tuna; dehydrated watermelon steak, dressed and pan seared in a wok!

This was a dish that was purchased on another visit to the same restaurant a couple of months ago. The vegan egg was a big thing when it was launched last year, if you want to know more check out The Emily Chapters to read her review of it.

The only complaint, was the sriracha vegan mayonnaise was too spicy, and not labelled as such.

Avant gard’n; Bbq seitan, vegan “egg” , grilled mushrooms, asparagus and brown rice,

For dessert, we tried the Matcha Mango cake, and the strawberry & yuzu ice cream. This was not just a cake, this was a matcha and mango cake, lovingly topped by berry compote and mint! The texture of the cake was a balence between the fluffy cake and the silky cream. The bitter flavour of the matcha was beautifully contrasted with the sweet juicy mango cream. A lovely light option for a post noodle bowl pudding! And vegan! I would not have known this was egg and dairy free if I hadn’t been told!! The ice cream was nice, but the texture was a bit heavy, and craggy. I was spoiled a bit having already tried the light and fluffy layer cake.

Strawberry & yuzo vegan ice cream, and matcha cake

Mango and Matcha Layer cake

Over all I was really impressed with all the food. My favourite things were the steamed buns, the barbeque glazed seitan in the Avent Gard’n and the matcha cake! My partner said “it’s the food of the gods!”

Although January is nearly over, Wagamama offer their vegan menu all year round, so you can check it out next time you visit!

Don’t forget to pop over to Instagram between now and Saturday 1st feb 2020, to be in with a chance to win a £20 Wagamama gift voucher!