When I was invited to a tasting event at Wasabi in Lakeside, I was keen to go, as I have done a couple of other reviews in the food court and I’m really impressed by the way they are renovating the space and diversifying the available cuisines.
Being that I don’t like fish much myself, I still wanted to try it, but thought I would invite a specialist in sushi in the form of my work funner Liz, who has eaten more Wasabi nuts than Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has said the word ‘pet’.
Wasabi started off as a stall on Camden market, and started coming to prominence as the popularity of sushi itself rose, and they now even have a store in New York.
There are quite a few in the UK, and I hear from my London blogger friends they are quite popular.
On the initial face of it, my first impressions of Wasabi in Lakeside were that it looked clean, light, and fresh.
Sushi, and Japanese cuisine in general always looks vibrant, colourful and fresh, and the staff and marketing team clearly put a lot of thought about what goes in the front, customer facing counter.
When we arrived, we were sat in a great round booth in the middle of the food court, that had the glorious ability to lock out noise, and thankfully, sight of other people. I am by no means a snob, I am merely pointing out that babies screaming and people in tracksuits put me off my food. Sorry.
Anyway, Kyla came over and explained to us, that they had put a concept in this store that is only currently live in a couple, that you can get a ‘Bento Box’ style meal with your protein, noodles and sauce. Bento boxes are a huge snacking culture in Japan, and a really popular way of serving food, so it was great to hear Wasabi bringing over an authentic piece of cuisine culture and trying it out on the UK. Saves me going to Japan.
They also put a little placemat with ‘Konichiwa Kelly’ which was a great touch. I loved it.
I was also terribly relieved, as I actually am not that big a fan of fish. So much so, I spent the day going to Liz ‘but Liz, I don’t like fish’
‘I really don’t like fish though’
‘There’s not really any fish I like. Especially if it’s cold fish Liz. I don’t even like hot fish. Let alone cold fish’.
So once it was all cleared up, I happily skipped along to get my stir fry while Liz went and got proper sushi.
Liz came back with a haul that any sushi lover would be proud of, and for a mere £15 I don’t think you could get a meal made of fresher produce anywhere. I tried a bit of her chicken katsu, which was breaded in really light breadcrumbs and cooked to perfection. You could actually taste the freshness of the chicken, which was a great deviation from some other food outlets in the same area which offer chicken which is questionable at best.
The tempura prawns were apparently, according to Liz, really lightly battered and fresh as well, and she alternated between going on about how good they were and how good the packaging was. The packaging, to be fair to her, is really high quality and well thought out. The boxes that you get rice and chicken and sauce in actually have seprate containers for them weirdo’s that don’t like their food touching each other. Just a life tip, these are also the type of people that photograph wildlife and play minecraft. The actual sushi box was so colorful, I didn’t even need to use a filter for the below photo.
Sushi hurts my eyes!
So onto the next thing Liz had, another beautifully packaged treat, a great big tuna sushi triangle.
Although it comes with very detailed, descriptive instructions on how to open, we had a bit of a packaging fail, so ensure you read it twice.
There are also some nice little sweet bits Wasabi do in boxes so you can take them home, or eat them there. Or eat them walking round while you have murders trying to find an outfit for your work do (although I have already covered this dilemma for you here: http://confessionsofasoberessexgirl.co.uk/2014/12/06/christmas-work-do-dilemmas-answered/).
I don’t know what the Asian culture has a thing about with the whole chocolate covered sticks thing, but I’m not going to knock it because it is fabulous. Get yourself bang on the Pepero’s girls, diets start in January.
Anyway, onto my meal, and i had the grilled chicken, with ramen noodles and spicy sauce. So caring was the manager of the store she actually asked me if I would be ok with the spiciest sauce, but along with my feelings my taste buds escaped a long time ago, so I was pretty alright.
They cook it all up like a stir fry and put it in a Bento box style container, so you do get all the run of the mill stir fry bits like cabbage, onion and carrot. Apart from being amazingly fresh just like Liz’s meal, the amount of flavour was so unrealistic I had to retrace my steps to see if I went down to a rabbit hole or into the back of a wardrobe.
If you like a bit of spice, I couldn’t recommend this little combo with hot and spicy sauce anymore.
So in conclusion of the night, pleasantly surprised that there is somewhere a group of non-sushi lovers and sushi lovers can go to socialize and get great, fresh food. I’ll definitely be back next time I am in Lakeside.
You can find your nearest Wasabi on their website: https://www.wasabi.uk.com/