wagamama, the wildly popular UK–based, Asian fusion hotspot, will be opening its third New York City location in Murray Hill on February 6th. At the heart of wagamama’s success is its egalitarian “Bowl to Soul” philosophy: wholesome, fresh food and a welcoming environment to nourish the body as well as the soul.
To celebrate the Murray Hill restaurant, wagamama will offer its first exclusive dish in the U.S., for a limited time and only in the new location. Available for just one month, the Hot Katsu curry is a fiery version of the restaurant chain’s iconic Chicken Katsu curry, a dish ordered 3.5 million times a year in the UK alone. As a launch bonus, the first 50 guests through the door on opening day will have their choice of a hot or regular Katsu curry served free of charge.
wagamama will also be offering a special, limited edition vegan dish created by Executive Chef Steve Mangleshot and UK vegan chef Gas Oakley. The Avant Gard’n features a coconut and sriracha vegan “egg” along with barbecue-glazed seitan, edamame, grilled asparagus and mushrooms all served on a bed of sticky rice. The special will be available from January 7th through February 28th. wagamama also now offers a full vegan menu at all of its locations.
To fit in to its new neighborhood of Murray Hill, wagamama is offering an expanded drink program that includes inventive cocktails, a larger beer selection, many Japanese whiskeys and a sake flight. The other New York locations of wagamama are in NoMad and the East Village, and there are already plans for a Midtown location in 2019. wagamama’s success comes from their menu filled with healthful Asian-fusion dishes served in a friendly environment.
Downtown had the chance to ask wagamama Executive Chef Steve Mangleshot about the newest location and wagamama’s global success:
Downtown: The fact that this will be your third location in New York City proves that your cuisine is a hit with New Yorkers. Why did you choose Murray Hill for the newest wagamama?
Steve Mangleshot: We’re delighted to be joining the neighborhood of Murray Hill and we’re excited that the food scene of Murray Hill is beginning to expand. We chose Murray Hill as we felt that wagamama is the perfect offering for its local residents. Whether you want to come on your own, with friends, after work, or in your gym gear, we’re for all occasions and can’t wait to be a part of a great neighborhood.
Downtown: You have 97 restaurants in 27 countries, what makes wagamama so popular around the world?
Steve Mangleshot: We have always been proud of our food, and people love our food because we’ve created something unique and different: you can’t get wagamama food in other restaurants because our version of each dish is influenced by my travels. When I get ideas from one country, I fuse that with the flavors from another to make dishes that are truly unique. I also think people like what wagamama stands for: the brand is egalitarian (everyone sits on the same benches); we are always innovating and trying new things; and we look after our teams as we know that they are so important in everything we do.
Downtown: Tell us about the Hot Katsu Curry and how it came to be.
Steve Mangleshot: In Japan, every place that sells Katsu Curry has their own recipe, and the diner can modify the dish based on their spice preference from 1-10 (1 being mild and 10 being super spicy!). When I asked for a 10 in one restaurant the chef came over and advised me against it as it would be too hot for me! When I came back from that trip I started to work on a spicy recipe, so I dialed the heat up to a 6 for our Hot Katsu Curry. I am glad we can launch it as an exclusive dish in Murray Hill as a tribute to the many Indian curry restaurants in the area.
Downtown: Chef Mangleshot, can you share with our Downtown readers one of the “untold” secrets to your success?
Steve Mangleshot: I guess the secret is simple. Make food the hero and make sure the ingredients you use are fresh and exciting, to ensure our dishes are packed full of flavor. Everyone that works for wagamama is a foodie, and it’s important to have passion for what you do. We put this passion into our dishes. We push ourselves daily and live by the Kaizen philosophy. We spend endless hours training our teams and we push ourselves to be innovative, brave and bold with both recipe ideas and flavors.
Downtown: After 9/11, many thought lower Manhattan was gone for good. Today downtown is the hottest and fastest growing area in NY. So when are you opening below Canal Street?
Steve Mangleshot: We love New York. Our team is always looking for the next site. We have another one in the works now in Midtown and we are looking at all areas in Manhattan for our future locations!
Downtown: You’ve been with wagamama for 17 years, in today’s ever-changing world that’s something to celebrate. Why should our younger generation choose a long career with one brand?
Steve Mangleshot: I’ve been lucky enough to help a brand grow and I still get very excited about what we can achieve. Even after 17 years, I am still learning and I have a passion for beautiful Asian food, and anyone that has a passion for a certain type of cuisine should follow that dream and keep building on it.