MaximusJuly 3, 2008
Wagamama joins Mojo at Kumutoto
In what appears to be one of Wellington’s more anticipated restaurant openings for years, a branch of the international noodle bar Wagamama has opened in the Meridian building, and already queues are forming out the door: indeed, breaking all Australasian records for turnover in a first week, despite it being the middle of a very bleak winter. It evidently has been a phenomenal success. This is the first (and probably will be the only) branch of Wagamama to open in Wellington – there are already two or three in Auckland, although the chain itself started in London a couple of decades ago and has been spreading steadily across the world, exhalting its values of positive eating and positive living. The mantra of good design has always been strong at Wagamama, courtesy of Alan Yau, who got David Chipperfield to design his first, Bloomsbury branch of Waga’s in the early 90s, and followed that up with John Pawson to design the branch in Wardour St in Soho (London). Here, the fitout, by Christchurch based designers Element 17, also follows the Wagamama guidelines – the space is tall, and largely unadorned, with the solid oak refractory style tables so reminiscent of communal meals – no separate dinky tables here – they pack them in and push you through. Being so spacious in height as well as floor area has its advantages – stunning views out to sea, where you can watch the Bluebridge ferry and EastWest ferry launch across the harbour, as well as catching the late afternoon rays streaming down across the outdoor plaza. The decor matches the food – sophisticated yet wholesome, with solid timber features and fixtures proclaiming its down to earth goodness. Damn good food too – with the menu basically unchanged from the original in Bloomsbury. There is no doubt that Wagamama has captured, as has Meridian above, one of the most choice spots on the waterfront, and it brings some company to Mojo’s fine coffee bar nestling nearby.