What To Order At Wagamama, According To A Nutritionist

What To Order At Wagamama, According To A Nutritionist

Wagamama is so often top of the list when it comes to fast food made with fresh ingredients and to order. But that doesn’t mean everything on offer is good for you. To find out how to make a healthier choice, we asked two nutritionists to evaluate the menu.
Photography: @WAGAMAMA_UK

Vegetable Tempura

What’s Inside: Crispy fried broccoli, red pepper, sweet potato and asparagus, topped with wakame and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Calories: 384

Verdict: “400 calories is a lot for a starter,” says Sarah. “Plus, the protein content is low, and the carb and fat content is high – not an ideal combination. Having said that, there’s a good selection of different vegetables, which provide vitamins A and C.” However, don’t rely on this for one of your five-a-day, says Alice. “This tempura is fried, and cooking at high temperatures can destroy some of the nutritious oils, enzymes and prebiotics.”

RATING: 5/10

Teriyaki Salmon Soba

What’s Inside: Grilled salmon with soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce.

Calories: 882

Verdict: “Now we’re talking,” Alice enthuses. “This is one of the more nutritious options on the menu and seems to contain more veggies than the curries. Salmon is naturally high in beneficial omega-3 fats, zinc, protein, antioxidants and B vitamins. Soba noodles are also made from buckwheat, which is better than more refined options.” However, Sarah points out that the dish still contains over 800 calories, which is a generous amount. “The teriyaki sauce also pushes up the salt content,” she says.

RATING: 8/10

Edamame with Salt

What’s Inside: Fresh edamame beans served whole with salt

Calories: 247

Verdict: You can’t go wrong with edamame beans, says registered nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh. “Edamame beans are simply soybeans in shells, just as they grow in nature. This is one of the best ways to consume soy as it’s unprocessed, unlike tofu or soy milk. They’re also high in iron and protein, as well as iron, choline, zinc and B vitamins.” Plus, as registered dietitian and nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker adds, there’s research to show they can help lower blood cholesterol levels. “The only slight downside is the salt level,” adds Alice. 

RATING: 9/10

Chicken Katsu Curry

What’s Inside: Chicken coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, covered in an aromatic curry sauce, served with sticky rice and a side salad.

Calories: 1,079

Verdict: “This dish has a huge number of calories, over half your daily allowance. Plus, 42% of the calories comes from carbs as it’s served with a mound of sticky rice, which has a high GI content when compared with other types of rice. It also contains 40g of fat, a quarter of which saturates, which can increase blood cholesterol levels,” says Sarah. Alice also gives it a low rating due to a lack of greens. “The salad here is the only source of veggies on the plate and seems more of an afterthought than a side dish. You should be aiming for seven portions of veggies per day, so this won’t get you very far.”

RATING: 5/10

Chicken And Prawn Pad Thai

What’s Inside: Chicken and prawn on rice noodles with egg, beansprouts, leeks, chilli, red and spring onion, fried shallots and fresh herbs.

Calories: 801
Verdict: “This dish contains three good sources of protein – chicken, prawns and egg, which will fill you up. There’s also plenty of veg,” says Sarah. Nonetheless, it contains nearly 6g of salt and pad thai is a notoriously oily dish, adds Alice. “It also doesn’t bring much on the fibre front. The white, processed noodles mean this dish is high in carbs and sugar.”

RATING: 5/10

Chicken Ramen

What’s Inside: Marinated chicken on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma and spring onions.

Calories: 500

Verdict: “This is a much more balanced dish, with a generous portion of chicken providing over 40g of protein, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer,” says Sarah. “The carb content is more moderate and the fat and saturated fat is also low. However, it contains 5.4g of salt, and a high salt intake is linked to high blood pressure.” Ask if you can swap the noodles for a wholegrain option, Alice advises. “The drawback of this dish is the significant portion of white, refined noodles. This dish would be better if the noodles were halved and replaced with veggies.”

RATING: 7/10

Naked Katsu

What’s Inside: Grilled curried chicken on a bed of brown rice with edamame beans, shredded carrots, dressed mixed leaves and Japanese pickles. Served with katsu curry sauce on the side.

Calories: 607

Verdict: “It may not appeal to everyone, but this dish is probably the most balanced, nutritious and colourful on the menu,” says Alice. “Low in sugar, high in protein and rich in fibre, nutrients and slow-release carbs from brown rice – it’s a winner.”

RATING: 10/10​

Firecracker Chicken

What’s Inside: A fiery mix of chicken, mangetout, red and green peppers, onions and hot red chillies. Served with white rice, sesame seeds and shichimi.

Calories: 1,185

Verdict: “This dish is better than the katsu option thanks to colourful veggies that provide fibre and vitamins,” says Alice. “The chicken isn’t coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, although it will have been cooked on a high flame using vegetable oils. Brown rice would be a better option than white here, as the dish has around 30g of sugar.” Sarah isn’t a fan of the salt content, either. “The dish contains nearly 5g of salt, which is over three quarters of your 6g target.”

RATING: 6/10

White Chocolate And Matcha Cheesecake

What’s Inside: Served with vanilla ice cream and finished with chocolate sauce, mixed sesame seeds and fresh mint.

Calories: 510

Verdict: Delicious, but not nutritious, says Alice. “This is high in sugar, as you’d expect from a dessert. Plus, matcha is high in antioxidants but is unlikely to be added in especially high levels. This is something to savour and indulge in now and then,” she tells us. “At over 500 calories per portion, you’re better off sharing this one,” Sarah adds. “Plus, it contains nearly 19g of saturated fat.”

RATING: 4/10

Ebi Katsu

What’s Inside: Prawns in crispy panko breadcrumbs, coriander, fresh lime and chilli and garlic dipping sauce. 

Calories: 281

Verdict: “High in protein, prawns themselves are a great source of zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamin A,” Alice tells us. “However, in this dish they are deep fried in breadcrumbs, which is less than ideal from a nutritional standpoint owing to the trans fats that are created when oil is heated to a high level. Vegetable oils are high in omega 6, which encourages inflammation in the body.” Sarah also raises concern over the salt content, which at over 2g is a third of your daily target, a lot for just one side dish. 

RATING: 5/10

Chicken Steamed Gyoza

What’s Inside: Freshly steamed chicken dumplings served grilled with a dipping sauce.

Calories: 223

Verdict: “This dish isn’t exactly a nutritional gold mine, but it isn’t terrible either,” says Alice. “The dough on the gyoza is likely to be refined and be aware that dipping sauces tend to be rich in sugar.” However, Sarah adds that chicken is a good source of protein and B vitamins. “Plus, by grilling instead of frying the dumplings, you slash the fat content in half,” she says. 

RATING: 6/10

For more information visit AliceMackintosh.com, SarahSchenker.co.uk and Wagamama.com

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.​

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