International Noodle Expert Wagamama Lands in New York

The shirodashi pork ramen: pork belly marinated in bulgogi sauce, chicken broth with dashi and miso, seasonal greens, scallions, wakame, menma and half a tea-stained egg. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

New York is — there’s no question about it — saturated with great ramen. But that hasn’t stopped city slurpers from itching for an outpost of London’s obsessed-over noodle chain Wagamama, especially since it landed in Boston nearly a decade ago. It enjoys an unusually sterling reputation for a pan-Asian noodle chain and its fans include Dave Chang, who credits a meal at one of the London locations with inspiring him to become a chef. Now, New Yorkers’ wishes will be granted this Wednesday, when Wagamama opens its first location here. And this is just the beginning, as a second East Village restaurant has been in the works since summer.

Naturally, it’s going to be big. The restaurant, which overlooks Madison Square Park, occupies a sprawling three-floor space. It features the trademark Wagamama aesthetic that influenced Chang: an open kitchen, communal tables, and stools. As for the food, the fusion-y menu is straight-up ’90s retro, sort of like the best possible version of that suburban Japanese restaurant you went to with your parents. The ramen here isn’t yuzu-shoyu with chicken chashu, but instead inspired by Indo-Chinese chili chicken or served with pork belly marinated in Korean bulgogi sauce. Some dishes are more straightforward, like pork-and-water-chestnut gyoza, but that border-crossing style is well-represented across the menu. It’s seen in sides like steamed buns with Korean barbecue beef, teppanyaki dishes like teriyaki soba, grilled duck donburi, and green curry made with coconut and lemongrass.

The chili squid is fried squid dusted with shichimi, a traditional mix of seven spices, and served with a chile-cilantro dipping sauce. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev
Firecracker curry: snow peas, red and green peppers, onions, and hot red chiles served with white rice, sesame seeds, scallions, shichimi, and a lime wedge. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev
The banana katsu is fried panko-coated banana with a scoop of salted-caramel ice cream and caramel sauce. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev
Drinks include the Lemongrass Collins, made with gin, soda, sugar, and fresh lemon juice. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev
See the influence? Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev
Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

Wagamama, 210 Fifth Ave., nr. E. 26th St.; 212-920-6233

Much-Loved Noodle Chain Wagamama Opens in New York