“ Tietgensgade 20, DK-1704 København V, Tel: +45 3375 0659 „
There's no escaping the fact that eating out in Copenhagen is, by anyone's standards, mind blowingly expensive for your average tourist. This is the town where a takeaway sandwich can set you back £7 or more, Big Macs are about as expensive as they come and the price of a small bottle of water from a convenience store is enough to make you weep. In my experience what Danish food does have on its side is that generally ingredients are great quality and food is fresh - so on my most recent visit I was pleased to stumble upon an old favourite, Wagamama's - which albeit not being typical of Denmark did have on its side that it was a short walk from my hotel, and the fact that it offered a "free" fresh juice (39 danish kroner or £4.60 as I like to see it) with a voucher from the tourist office with any main meal was a selling point too. For anyone not familiar with Wagamama's - it's a restaurant that serves "pan asian" food, mainly hot noodles, though there are rice dishes and dumplings too.
Wagama Copenhagen is centrally located right at the back of the Tivoli Gardens, not far from the Central Station. Its premises bridge the gap between a main boulevard and the wonderland that is the Tivoli, more theme park than gardens and the heart of the town in the Summer season. Stepping inside, the restaurant looks just like its counterparts in the UK; benches and an open kitchen set the scene. Just like in my local Wagamama you can't actually reserve, and the restaurant does seem to get quite busy, there was a good mix of every age every time I went past and as many Danes as tourists as far as I could tell.
On arrival we (ie 2 adults and my 2 children aged 7 and 4) were given a seat sharing a bench with an extremely friendly Danish couple. We were pleased to discover there was a children's menu, with all dishes being about 55 kroner - that's £6.50 at time of writing for a main course, compared to about £3 or £4 in the UK. Adult courses ranged from 109 - 135 kroner (£13- £16) for a main course, with sides also being available for about half that. The menu was reassuringly familiar with a choice of Ramen, rice and noodles.
Service was pleasant, but once we had ordered we found that all our dishes came at varying times - this is often the Wagamama way I find. My udon (thick noodles) was absolutely delicious and copious and came with a huge variety of vegetables, chicken, prawns and squid. The youngest ate every single scrap of her noodle dish with grilled fish, sweetcorn, cucumber and noodles and my husband pronounced his steak chilli noodles to be outstanding. There was really nothing to fault in the dishes at all - we did notice that a few customers were left waiting for side dishes until long after their main courses were eaten but our dishes arrived more or less together and after a couple of days of filling up on breakfast buffet, the fresh ingredients and copious plates were especially appreciated by us all, washed down with delicious fresh (free) juice - I opted for apple and orange which was delicious. Dessert was icecream, at 20kr cheaper than from the local 7-11 (one on every corner in Copenhagen or so it seems), and all in all the meal was pronounced a resounding success.
The toilets were clean and pleasant, there was wheelchair access, and there was no-smoking - not a given in Denmark who don't seem to have the no-smoking laws we do. When the bill came we were actually quite impressed that for 4 of us, including a tip, the bill was less than £50, and we were given a 20% off coupon for a return visit. I can't say that I will be returning to Copenhagen any time soon, though it's a lovely city which is well worth visiting, but if I did I would be sure to go to Wagamama again, the food was good, the atmosphere was great and, by Copenhagen standards it's an absolute bargain. Recommended.
Address: tietgensgade 20, Copenhagen
open 12-22h, and also open when the Tivoli is closed, access from the main boulevard
Wagamama - Tivoli, Copenhagen
Having established themselves in the UK over the past 15 years, Wagamama have now begun to spread their wings abroad venturing across Europe and into the United States.
The new outlet in Copenhagen has taken a prime site in Tivoli Gardens with entrances from the park and the street outside. I dread to think what the ground rent for such a site would be but Wagamama is a popular, high volume restaurant which is invariably very busy.
What is Wagamama? ~
Wagamama serves a mixture Japanese noodle and curry dishes. The menu is pretty much the same in any outlet and the one in Tivoli looked very similar to the ones in Covent Garden and Bloomsbury I've been to in the past.
The template for each restaurant is the same and this one is no different. Seating is on long communal benches which you will share with other diners. To one side is a long serving bar backed by the cooking area where the chefs work in full view.
The main attraction of these restaurants is the Wagamama 'experience'. Things are done differently here and you are meant to buy into this ethos. The benched seating precludes intimate eating and is meant to promote a livelier atmosphere, this works as you need to speak a little louder so that your dining partners can hear you above your neighbour's conversation. Multiplied across the whole restaurant this means that at busy times it can be quite noisy.
The other aspect of the 'experience' is the pace at which the restaurant operates. The waiters bustle around, showing you promptly to available seats and are quick with menus and order taking. The food is then prepared and served as soon as it's ready regardless of the status of the rest of the order. This means that you may find yourself waiting for your main while others are finishing theirs, or you'll receive your side dish five minutes after your empty main course bowls have been taken away.
The menu ~
The Wagamama menu is split into three main areas. You have the Ramen dishes, big bowls of noodles in soup, there are Kare dishes with noodles in coconut soup and rice dishes. There is also a choice of salads, side dishes and noodle dishes without soup. Most of these dishes are variations on a theme so the Ramen menu offers choices of meat and vegetarian options.
Most dishes I have tried come in healthy sized portions and are invariably quite tasty. For the Ramen dishes the balance of the portion tends to be unsatisfactory, it being a large bowl of broth with lots of noodles but only a few miserly pieces of meat. You are also given a wooden ladle or chop sticks to eat with, not the easiest of utensils and can make it quite threatening to the shirt front. The rice dishes are easier to eat and offer a better supply of meat. The food is pretty straightforward and unobjectionable and the dishes we had in the Copenhagen were no different to the ones I've tried in Covent Garden.
Wagamama - Copenhagen ~
Once inside the restaurant it was indistinguishable from other branches I have been in. With lots of light and space it is a nice environment. This branch is quite new and everything looks clean and fresh.
We were shown promptly to our seats and given our menus. Service to this point had been good but it soon began to slow. It took an appreciable time for a waitress to return to take our order, a little time later our food arrived in the following order: my side dish, my main, our drinks and finally my wife's main. All spread over a fifteen minute time span this made the meal a disjointed, not to say thirsty, 'experience'. Looking for some dessert we spent another ten minutes trying to get a waitress to find us and then serve us, following that we had a ten minute wait for the bill (and had to ask for it twice).
Being in Copenhagen this is more expensive than the branches in London and our total bill came to 430DK (roughly £43) but that isn't bad value for this city.
I've eaten in various Wagamama's several times and I don't really know why I keep going back, except that it is very popular with some people in my office. The food is OK but the service is rarely anything to get excited about and I don't get the whole 'experience' thing. Slow service in a fast paced environment can't be acceptable and is it really so hard to get everyone's food to the table at the same time?
The address of the Tivoli Wagamama is:
1704 Copenhagen v
phone : +45 33 75 06 58