I had an absolutely brilliant time at Wagamama in Livingston last night with Andrew, Stephen and Elspeth, It's my birthday on Saturday so we had an early celebration.
Elspeth is a long time fan of Wagamama and I've really enjoyed the meals I've had there but it was a new experience for Andrew and Stephen. I ended up mistakenly ordering a vegetarian dish, the yasai yaki soba, which had egg, beansprouts, peppers, onions and garlic with fried shallots, pickled ginger, sesame seeds and coriander vinegar. Despite the lack of chicken and shrimp, which Elspeth had, it was absolutely delicious - packed with very well balanced and individually defined flavours. I think I might even order that one again. Andrew and Stephen had the Katsu curry, which I'd tried before and liked - it's basically a big chicken nugget (or butternut squash and aubergine as Stephen had it) with curry sauce, a big pile of sticky rice and salad.
We'd ordered 3 side dishes, but ended up with 4 by mistake. Elspeth and Andrew weren't keen on the gyoza which, for their information, contained grilled chicken and vegetables, saying that they had a bit of a weird aftertaste. I have to say I've always had the deep fried duck version before so the softer, almost soft rubbery texture of the steamed ones was different. They didn't look very appetising to be honest - a bit like chyrsalises in a way, but they were fine to taste although by far the most bland dish of the night. We also had tori kara age - fried chicken with chilli and garlic and another delicious chicken dish from the specials menu that was packed with chilli and garlicky flavour. Our bonus prize was the ebi katsu - deep fried breaded prawns with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce. They really don't hold back on their garlic there - a practice I admire as I think there are some things you can never have too much of.
When it was time for pudding, I thought that I was going to be in for a difficult decision - I'd had the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake with the chilli and toffee sauce before and it was amazingly good. Vying for my attention, though, was chocolate cake with dark chocolate wasabi sauce which I'd also been very keen to try. Fortunately, my mind was made up for me because they'd run out of the chilli toffee sauce. The cake itself was soft and rich and topped with a thin layer of creamy frosting and while you got a kick from the sauce, the wasabi didn't overwhelm it.
All this was washed down by a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio for the three non drivers. The company was excellent and lots of laughs were had. Mr Reeves only occasionally lets the world know on his blog what a smutty mind he has, but in real life that's very different.
It was the sort of night that makes you forget about the actual pain of turning 43 for a little while.