Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We were invited guests of Wagamama, and we were given a contribution towards our meal in exchange for our visit. All images and opinions are our own.

My son loves Wagamama and it’s somewhere I’ve been taking him since he was old enough to clutch a set of chopsticks in his little hand. He loves the food and would choose to go for a yakisoba at Wagamama over pretty much anything else in the world. Because of this, we are frequent flyers at our local Wagamama in Didsbury. When I was invited to visit the new Wagamama restaurant at Ashton Moss, I was excited to go, not least because it stands almost in the shadow of IKEA, and a trip there meant I could also legitimately fill my boots with tealights on my way home.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We arrived at early tea-time on a Friday. Ashton Moss is a leisure park dominated by a cinema, but with a good amount of mostly chain restaurants around it. The Wagamama is the latest addition and was already busy and bustling. There’s plenty of free parking outside, though if you’re car free, then there’s a tram stop a few minutes walk away.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We were shown to our table and given some menus to look over. Being a regular, I already had a pretty solid idea of what I’d like, but as I was visiting, I decided to try something new. But first, drinks! It was a warm day, and as I’d toiled over a hot laptop for the previous 8 hours, I opted for a cherry blossom lemonade – a cherry blossom and cloudy lemon syrup, with sparkling water and a sprinkle of dried rose petals. The prettiest drink on the menu, refreshing too, with a satisfying sherbety finish.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

To start, my companion and I opted to share the Bang Bang Cauliflower and the tempeh ssambap, which was a delicious heap of vegan tempeh with pickled Asian slaw. spicy kimchee sauce, nestled in a baby gem lettuce leaf. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was blown away by the fresh and zingy flavours. It’s definitely something I’ll be ordering again. I’m not sure I’m that much of a fan of putting the calorie counts on menus, but this was 266 calories well eaten. The Bang Bang Cauliflower was well cooked; soft but still with some bite, and coated in a nicely spicy sauce.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

The mains came quickly and I ordered the teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen. This has been my favourite thing at Wagamama this year. I’m a veggie and I can’t eat mushrooms, which can occasionally make things tricky. The teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen is a belting dish. It’s a steaming bowl of seasoned soya protein in a spicy teriyaki sauce, thick udon noodles, sweetcorn, bok choi and chilli sambal paste. The sambal is very hot, so I always ask them to go a bit easy with this. The broth is divine and really makes the dish sing, it’s exactly how good ramen should be, it’s comforting and delicious and very much the kind of thing you crave when you’re in need of comfort. It’s so good, it’s turned the head of many a meat-loving dining companion of mine.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

Speaking of companions, mine opted for the tantanmen beef brisket ramen, with Korean barbecue beef, half a tea-stained egg and kimchee. It was a fine looking dish, fragrant in all the right ways. The meat was good quality, the egg just a nudge runny in the middle (otherwise known as perfect) and the kimchee had all the crunch and spicy bite you’d expect. It was another winner.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

The service was friendly and knowledgable. Any questions we had about the food were answered cheerfully. The restaurant was busy, but at no point did we feel neglected as it can sometimes do if you’re somewhere busy.

We were fit to burst, but after a small break, I was ready to order dessert. Pudding is not something I usually think of getting from Wagamama, but I’ve since decided that was a mistake and something I need to rectify in the future. My companion opted for the chocolate and cherry kefir ice cream, a classic combination and one that didn’t disappoint. If I hadn’t have ordered my pudding, then I would probably have given the ice cream a good going over.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

I’d very much enjoyed my meal thus far, but my pudding was about to change everything, but in a good way. I was intrigued by the smoked chocolate caramel cake, so I had to have it. I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I was presented with a delicious vision of smoked chocolate mousse, salted caramel, crushed biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie, chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream. It was a serious pudding, and a seriously good pudding at that.

Next time you’re at Wagamama, I implore you to leave enough room for the smoked chocolate caramel cake. In fact, I’m tempted to return just for one, or maybe two of those to myself!

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

Although Manchester is well served by Wagamama, and I’m spoilt having one just a mile from my front door, it’s lovely to see a new restaurant popping up at Ashton Moss. Ashton is perhaps best known for being the home of Manchester’s only IKEA, but now the tram network has stretched outwards into Ashton, it feels very much accessible, and with the cinema there, it does feel like a destination family night out for those living thereabouts.

When we arrived, Wagamama Ashton Moss was filling up, but the time we left, three courses later, it was packed and with a fast moving queue outside. It’s clearly a popular place for Ashton locals to visit already – and they’ve only been open for one month! If you love Wagamama, then you know what to expect in terms of good food and service, if anything, I hope if you’ve read this far, that you might be tempted to try one of the three sublime courses I had that night. Go on, I dare you to try something new, I know I did and I didn’t regret it.

If you want to find out more about Wagamama Ashton Moss, or check out their menu, it’s all on their website.

There’s more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

Living and working in Manchester, I am spoilt for choice for places to hang out for an afternoon or evening. The Printworks has long been a place we visit as a family, usually to go to the cinema and then for lunch afterwards. Last week I went along to The Printworks to hang out for the afternoon with some friends and discovered there’s more to The Printworks than meets the eye.

There's more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

My first stop was a sauna and a swim at Nuffield Health at The Printworks. I’d always known there was a gym somewhere inside, but I hadn’t really thought about where it was in the building. You hop in the lift and go up to the first floor and you’re met with a huge, beautiful state of the art gym.

I was given a quick tour of the facilities, then I took myself off for a swim. The pool is a good sized 20 metre long pool with a jacuzzi, sauna and steam. I bashed out 30 lengths (that’s 600 metres fact fans!) and enjoyed the fabulous view across the city centre. I then went for a well earned sauna and a steam, grabbed a shower, got dressed and headed off into The Printworks to see what else was on offer.

The Printworks is mostly known for the wide variety of bars and restaurants it houses. I have a few favourites I always go to when I visit, but it’s always good to expand your horizons.

I went to Waxy O’Connor’s for a post-gym drink. Waxy O’Connor’s is an Irish themed bar and if you walk downstairs there’s a huge bar area with lots of tables. They do food too, and I was tempted, but I stuck to my Black Velvet cocktail and was later joined by my friends. By this time it was 5pm and the bar was starting to fill up with people popping in for an after work drink with their colleagues and friends.

There's more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

We could have picked anywhere in The Printworks to carry on with our evening; but we headed to Wagamama for a steaming bowl of ramen. Then off to Hard Rock Cafe for a few cocktails and a good old gossip.

There’s something for everyone at The Printworks; whether you’re taking the kids to the cinema and for a bite to eat afterwards, painting the town red or if you’re in search of a workout and a pool with a view; The Printworks has it all!

For more information about what’s on at The Printworks visit their website.

I was offered a free swim and a cocktail when I visited The Printworks. I was not asked to write this blog post.

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

When I look back over 2016 there are very low points and very high points. Inevitably for a greedy person like me, many of my highlights involve exceptionally good plates of food, very good gin and some very special bottles of wine. I’ve picked out four of my favourite foodie experiences of 2016 for no other reason than to remember them makes me smile.

This year I turned 40 and as a very special birthday present my husband booked us into The Midland Hotel in Manchester. He treated me to an exquisite meal at The French. The French is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years and our amazing 9 course taster menu did not disappoint.

Foodie Experiences - The French The Midland Hotel Manchester

One of my favourite courses was the “salad” which was a beautiful (in every sense) plate of potato, ramson caper, black garlic & chestnut. The meal, the night, the weekend, it was all perfect. We’re looking forward to winning the lottery and going again some day.

In November a giddy gang of food bloggers descended on River Cottage HQ for a River Cottage style evening of fine dining. It was fresh, seasonal, local, beautifully cooked and expertly presented. River Cottage is by far (by far, even including the other amazing places I’ve dined this year) my favourite place to eat. If you can go, you really should.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Every plate was a delight, the prettiest was my starter of ravioli with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and sage. This was a deceptively filling dish, perfectly autumnal and as pretty as a picture.

The next day we couldn’t resist swinging by the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster for a spot of lunch before heading home. We were not disappointed. I ordered a couple of small plates – a casual lunch of soup and a simple but incredibly memorable plate of roast celeriac, cauliflower and pickled ewes cheese with salsa verde.

River Cottage Canteen

Every mouthful was perfectly balanced. I can’t believe I only paid £6 for something which somewhere swisher would charge four times that at least. Amazing food at incredibly accessible prices – a rare thing indeed.

Back home in Manchester, I’ve eaten in a hundred different restaurants. Whenever I’m in town in need of a quick bite I almost always end up in the same place eating the same thing. It’s a favourite haunt of my North West blogger chums, it’s Wagamama.

Wagamama Spinningfields

Every time I visit I order a steaming bowl of yasai itame. It’s a big fragrant bowl of rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup with tofu and vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies, garnished with coriander and lime.

It’s fresh, hearty, delicious and it feels healthy. I usually team it with one of their fresh juices so by the time I leave I’ve had about 800 of my five a day. It’s probably lucky I live a 45 minute bus journey away or I’d turn into a bowl of yasai itame.

I’ve spent a little bit of time scrolling through my Instagram feed and looking at some of the amazing dishes I’ve eaten this year. I’ve eaten in some really wonderful and memorable places, but these are probably four of my favourite plates, all for different reasons. All have stuck with me and have my mouth watering again just thinking about them.

Where I’ll eat and what I’ll eat in 2017 is yet to be seen, but in terms of good food, 2016 will be a hard one to beat. What were your most memorable dishes of 2016?

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

Review: Wagamama Spinningfields

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I hopped on the tram into Manchester in search of a good time and some noodles. The Metrolink had just that very weekend re-opened the St Peter’s Square tram stop, meaning visitors from the southside no longer had to schlep across town on foot, hallelujah. I met up with some friends and headed straight to Wagamama Spinningfields (via a cocktail bar) for a fix of noodles. 

We thought we would try a couple of healthy juices before our evening began in earnest. I opted for the “positive juice” containing pineapple, lime, spinach, cucumber and apple and my friend opted for the “repair juice” containing kale, apple, lime and pear. Both were delicious and even though they contained spinach and kale they were both sweet and vibrant. We very much enjoyed them.

Wagamama Spinningfields

At Wagamama you order and it all comes out of the kitchen when it is ready, so you may be given your meal before your companion gets theirs, which is fine. We’d asked for our side dishes to be brought out first as starters and they arrived consecutively. This meant we could enjoy each dish separately as we were sharing them.

wagamama spinningfields

Greedily we ordered three sides to share – Mushroom onigiri, which were balls of sticky rice with mushroom, deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs and served with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce. They were similar to the Italian arancini, but smaller and tastier. They were soft and moist on the inside, slightly crunchy on the outside and bursting with flavour. These were a real winner.

The yasai steamed gyoza were five steamed yasai dumplings, served grilled and with a dipping sauce. I have these almost every time I go to Wagamama and these did not disappoint. Our final side was the crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi and served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce. The squid was soft and well cooked with a fiery hit of chilli, but not enough to make your Gran cry.

Wagamama Spinningfields

Onto the main courses and my friend was keen to try one of the new dishes on the Wagamama Spinningfields menu, the duck donburi. A donburi is a bit like the Korean bibimbap. It’s a big bowl of steamed rice stir-fried with shredded duck and mixed vegetables. Served with a runny fried egg on the top and side of kimchi. It looked absolutely delicious and once the egg had been mixed in it had a beautiful texture. My companion loved it and tried very, very hard to finish it all. 

Wagamama Spinningfields

I opted for the yasai itame, a big fragrant bowl of rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup with tofu and vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies, garnished with coriander and lime.

It was a bit like a Thai green ramen, spicy but with a tolerable level of heat for me. It didn’t skimp on the tofu and it was packed with vegetables. The broth was delicious, just thinking about it has my mouth watering now. If anything it was a perhaps a little heavy on the noodles for me, but I would definitely order it again next time.

Wagamama Spinningfields

For dessert we decided to share a piece of white chocolate ginger cheesecake. I rarely eat cheesecake, I think I’m still scarred from eating terrible frozen cheesecakes in the 80’s, covered in sickly sweet sauce and soggy defrosted strawberries, this was very different.

The base was gingery and crunchy, the cheese smooth and fluffy and it was served with a kick ass chilli toffee ginger sauce (pro tip, don’t dip your finger in the mysterious powder on the plate and lick your finger, it’s powdered ginger and will blow your socks off).

The restaurant was refurbished less than a year ago and is really fresh looking, there’s a large area where you can eat outside if you want. I like that it’s the kind of place I could happily go for a bite to eat by myself, with the small boy and his dad, or with a large group of friends. 

We had a very, very good meal, the staff were excellent; attentive and knowledgeable, recommending we try certain dishes and suggesting great beers to go with our meal. We’ve been Wagamama fans since the first time we visited one over ten years ago, Wagamama Spinningfields does not disappoint. 

Wagamama Spinningfields, 1 Spinningfields Square, Manchester, M3 3AP

We were invited guests of the restaurant, but all images and opinions are our own.