Introducing wagamama's new vegan menu

Fancy giving the vegan diet a try this January? Wagamama are here to help you on your way, with their all-new vegan menu

Advertorial by The Skinny | 08 Jan 2018
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At the start of a new year, many of you will be thinking about trying your hands at something new. Maybe you’re getting the bike out of the cupboard, or taking up a new hobby inspired by a particularly well-chosen gift. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve overdone it on the festive food and fancy a new diet for a while.

Well, why not give veganism a whirl? A record-breaking 50,000 people signed up for Veganuary last year – for the uninitiated, that’s the campaign that aims to encourage all of us to at least give an animal-free diet a bash for the first month of the year – and in recent years there’s been a definite trend towards vegan food getting a solid foothold in the mainstream. Vegans now have more choice to work with than ever as we all try to cut back on the meat and dairy, and the rest of us get to see just what can be done without resorting to animal products.

Now Japanese-inspired noodle bar wagamama have introduced an entire vegan menu, aiming to show that food can be inventive, exciting and flavour-packed with or without meat. Inspired by an increasing number of vegan customers, as well as the thoughts and ideas of wagamama’s vegan and veggie staff, Wagamama’s vegan menu is true to the brand's ‘kaizen’ philosophy. Kaizen translates to ‘change for the better’, and it means making incremental changes to continue to improve in whatever you do. With plans to integrate feedback into a continually developing range of dishes, this new menu is just the start for Wagamama’s vegans.

At the same time, this isn’t just one or two token dishes we’re talking about; wagamama’s new vegan menu has a range of nourishing dishes to pick from. It starts with the sides – choose from grilled yasai gyoza, fried broccoli and bok choi, or a fresh and vibrant raw salad packed with Asian flavours, from pickled mooli and seaweed to edamame beans and fried shallots, and topped with a soy dressing.

Then there are the mains, which offer the variety and interest-piquing ingredients lists you expect to find on a wagamama menu. Some of the options are healthy, veggie riffs on the classics you love – there’s a vegan pad thai and a completely meatless yaki soba – while others are exciting new options to check out. There’s the yasai samla, a Cambodian lemongrass and coconut curry with tofu, peppers and shiitake mushrooms, and then there’s the kare burosu ramen. It’s an all-new dish inspired by a recent trip to Japan; a curried vegetable broth with udon noodles plays host to grilled mushrooms and tofu coated with shichimi spice mix, with a host of other veggies and herbs thrown in for good measure. Frankly, we were convinced at ‘shichimi-coated tofu’.

And there’s no letdown when it comes to dessert, with a pair of options to choose from. Select from pink guava and passion fruit or lemongrass and lime sorbet, a pair of fantastic palette cleansers without an animal product in sight. Even the drinks menu gets in on the act – both of wagamama’s collaborative beers produced alongside the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich are A-OK for vegans. There’s the kansho (Japanese for ‘zest’), which is infused with lime and ginger, or the Kikku (‘kick’) which is brewed with the aforementioned shichimi spice mix.

If you’re trying to keep things really healthy to start 2018, look no further than the selection of fresh juice blends – it’s hard not to like a drink that’s literally called ‘positive juice’, and when it contains pineapple, lime, spinach, cucumber and apple it becomes almost impossible. And if you aren’t trying to keep as healthy as possible and fancy a tasty treat with your meal, check out the Jinzu Fever cocktail – Japanese-inspired Jinzu gin, handmade in Scotland and infused with cherry blossom, yuzu fruit and sake, served with tonic and garnished with fresh lemon and pink peppercorns. Totally vegan, and incredibly interesting.

And the best part is that none of this takes away from the wagamama classics you might find yourself in the mood for. For longtime vegans, wagamama’s new menu is a great chance to try some new dishes, and for those of you dabbling in a meat-free lifestyle it’s an opportunity to experiment. Rather than a cliff edge, think of your options as a sliding slope – you can go for the kare burosu ramen, switch it up for the vegetarian yasai katsu curry with panko-breaded sweet potato (and pair it with some mushroom and aubergine hirata steamed buns), or try one of the longstanding meaty dishes. More choice, more happy pals to eat with, more laughing at your mate’s chopstick work. Everyone’s happy.

wagamama’s vegan menu proves without a doubt that an animal-free diet can be fun, exciting and delicious, and with locations in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Livingston and Edinburgh – including a super-cool and sleek spot at St Andrew Square in the heart of the capital – you won’t be far from some great vegan food no matter where 2018 takes you. Pull up a bench, grab a pair of chopsticks and a green tea, and take a step into the world of veganism. It’s a lot comfier and more familiar than you might have expected.