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Wagyumafia’s £75 Bowl of Ramen Actually Tastes of More Than Hype

Eater writers share their meal highlights from a week eating out

A bowl of wagyu jiro on a black background with chopsticks executing a noodle pull
This costs £75
Wagyumafia Hong Kong [Official Photo]

Welcome back to the column which highlights the best dishes Eater London’s staff and contributors ate during the week. Look back on previous best dishes of the week here.

Wagyumafia proffers its wagyu ramen in a red bowl behind a London kitchen
Strike a pose
Feroz Gajia

Wagyu ramen by Wagyumafia at Arcade Food Theatre

Some weeks feel like a wander in a food desert, barely a good bite to be had. This week was bountiful. A superb St. Honoré at Philippe Conticini’s new patisserie in Camden: crisp tart shell, glazed choux, plentiful vanilla and lightness of touch. Absolutely delicious arayes and merguez at Alaesh, the new opening from sabich specialists Balady in Temple Fortune; an eye-opening, soul satisfying Portuguese influenced eel migas at Tātā Eatery.

But my Tuesday night was consumed with getting me and a friend tickets to the ultimate Instagram hypebeast event. Wagyumafia was in town, projecting the kind of absurd stunting aesthetic that would usually guarantee tragically bad food. A counter seating of 10 guests at a time in three seatings, all consuming the Clerkenwell Boy and David Beckham approved 1kg £75 behemoth that is wagyu ramen. A surprisingly light wagyu broth inflected with real quality soy, organic cabbage, tsukemen-like firm noodles, finely minced garlic on the side of the bowl to customise each slurp, and a good 300g of wagyu in various forms. Finely diced pieces, to be found like pearls under the reef of noodles, and thick cut brisket chashu on top, instantly melting like every Youtube and Insta Story told you it would.

But this isn’t just about what is in the bowl being worthy of £75. Even though the ingredients are impeccable and the cooking is of a high standard, what you’re really paying for is the show. The tired trope of chefs being rockstars now contains a “touring the world” phase, with Hisato Hamada gurning with enough blue steel and absurd catchphrases for every camera pointed at him. This fleeting sense of occasion and the satisfaction of the food consumed is how in the moment you forget the price you’ve paid and just enjoy the slickly choreographed performance in front of you. —Feroz Gajia
103 — 105 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1DB

A cheung fun with Iberico pork and coconut at A. Wong in London
Cheung fun in surround sound
George Reynolds

Iberico pork cheung fun at A. Wong

I’d estimate 90 percent of the bad experiences people have in fine dining restaurants are due not to bad food, but to bad pacing. I think it was David Kinch, of three-Michelin-starred Manresa in Los Gatos, who said that any meal shouldn’t take any longer than two hours. Any more — unless people will happily linger — and customers begin to resent each new dish’s arrival, instead of anticipating it, starting to feel not like guests but hostages. At A. Wong, the pacing is perfect: each piece of dim sum arrives just as the sense-memory of the last begins to fade, so the whole meal flies by like a flawlessly executed video game combo. This can make choosing favourites tricky, but only in the same way that parents claim to struggle to choose a favourite child — there’s always an answer. At A. Wong it’s the deconstructed take on cheung fun, an improbable architectural thing stacking the usual slippery, wriggly textures with flakes of intensely caramelised Iberico pork and shards of millefeuille-thin pastry scented with just the merest suggestion of coconut. At lesser Michelin-starred restaurants it would be a showstopper, accorded the appropriate 20-minute window of reverence. Here, its casual, fleeting brilliance only makes it all the more devastating. —George Reynolds
70 Wilton Road, Pimlico SW1V 1DE

Fufu and egusi in a bowl on a brightly lit table
Fufu bobbing in egusi
Angela Hui

Egusi at Chuku’s

I have a bit of pet peeve when something’s called ‘XXX tapas’. Dim sum = Chinese tapas. Mezze platter = Greek tapas. Newly-opened Chuku’s near Seven Sisters has branded itself as Nigerian tapas. Personal nitpicking aside, Chuku’s brings something new by tying classic West African cuisine to London’s most modish of eating habits. Of all the small plates on the menu, the traffic-light coloured egusi was the standout dish. A comforting soup made up of bitter melon seeds, scotch bonnet, red pepper, onion and thyme, coated in a sheen of rich palm oil that adds a sexy glisten from every angle. Topped with three spherical fluffy yam fufu, that bring a sweetness to counteract the subtle bitterness of the stew. Not as springy as the QQ texture of tong yuan dessert soup dumplings, but a silky, soft chew that coats the tongue and hugs your oesophagus as it goes down. Dainty and cute, it’s a smart introduction to ease those who are new to Nigerian cuisine. —Angela Hui
274 High Road, Seven Sisters N15 4AJ

Arayes at Alaesh in a silver pot with hummus and leaves
Stuffed
Feroz Gajia

Arayes at Alaesh

The intersection of my Temple Fortune dentist advising a big lunch before my wisdom teeth came out with the opening of Balady Alaesh couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. Alaesh, roughly meaning “on/from the fire” to refer to grill cooking, is falafel specialist Balady’s response to a demand for more meat and fish, which will mean the original Balady will become entirely veggie and Alaesh a kind of budget Barbary. With half an hour to kill, order pretty much the whole menu: Moroccan cigars full of fluffy meat, thicc hummus topped with slow-cooked shortrib, or chicken thighs blackened from the grill. The best thing is the arais/arayes, the pan-Arabic snack that every country wants to claim as its own but most likely originated in Lebanon. A kind of burger where the patty and the toasted pita are melded into one inseparable mass, kind of like a McDonalds Double Cheeseburger after its been left on the heated tray for a while. Here the twist is that it’s not mince, but the slow cooked shortrib which has separated into wet strands, with the smoky pita, which has been crisped and charred, soaking up all the juices and fat as the meat permeates from inside to out. It is fast food nonpareil. The best expression of Alaesh right now is to order a big version of this, supplemented by its peerless chips. —Jonathan Nunn
756 Finchley Road, Temple Fortune NW11 7TH

Dan dan noodles at Mao Chow in a bowl under pink neon lighting
Dan! Dan! Dan!
Daisy Meager

Dan dan noodles at Mao Chow

You know when the wind is so harsh and cold you can’t move your face? It was like that on Saturday night when I turned up to Mao Chow, my expression stuck like I’d had some dodgy fillers. But after waiting next to the open kitchen for a spot at the vegan Chinese joint and a queue beer down, my cheeks started to unfreeze. Animated conversation flowed over sweet cabbage and ginger dumplings and sour, spicy, peanut-strewn cucumber. But when the bowl of dan dan noodles was put down, a comforting eating silence descended. Doubts about not being able to finish the whole dish were quickly banished and tunnel vision ensued. The noodles were satisfyingly chewy and al dente; the sauce nutty and savoury with just a gentle kick. I wished it was a Mary Poppins bag of a bowl that would never end. The background playlist of power drum solos and guitar shredding felt particularly apt. —Daisy Meager
159A Mare Street, Hackney E8 3RD

Sambal Shiok

171 Holloway Road, London, Greater London N7 8LX

Sunday

169 Hemingford Road, , England N1 1 020 7607 3868

BRAT

4 Redchurch Street, , England E1 6JL Visit Website

Etles

235 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London , E17 9PP Visit Website

Custard

4 Duchess Walk, London, SE1 2SD

Holborn Whippet

25-29 Sicilian Avenue, , England WC1A 2QH 020 3137 9937 Visit Website

TŌU

101-103 Oxford Street, , England WC1A 1DB Visit Website

The Golden Hind

73 Marylebone Lane, , England W1U 2PN 020 7486 3644 Visit Website

Little Bread Pedlar

34 Moreton Street, , England SW1V 2PD 020 3941 6298 Visit Website

Seven

Brixton Station Rd., Brixton, Greater London, London, 44 0207 998 3309 Visit Website

Station Parade

12 Uxbridge Road, , England W5 3LD

Dilara

27 Blackstock Road, London, N4 2JF Visit Website

Ji

Chalk Farm Road, , England NW1 8AH 07398 682956

Borough Market

8 Southwark Street, , England SE1 1TL 020 7407 1002 Visit Website

TĀTĀ Eatery

152 Old Street, , England EC1V 9BW Visit Website

Bubala

65 Commercial Street, , England E1 6BD 020 7392 2111 Visit Website

Flor

1 Bedale Street, , England SE1 9AL 020 3967 5418 Visit Website

Atari-ya

595 High Road, , England N12 0DY 020 8446 6669 Visit Website

N16

, , England N16

Amar Gaon

50 Brick Lane, , England E1 6RF 020 7377 6688 Visit Website

Padella Shoreditch

1 Phipp Street, , England EC2A 4PS Visit Website

Brilliant

72-76 Western Road, Southall , Middlesex , UB2 5DZ Visit Website

Lamb

94 Lamb's Conduit Street, , England WC1N 3LZ 020 7405 0713 Visit Website

arcade food theatre

103-105 New Oxford Street, , England WC1A 1DB Visit Website

Singburi

593 High Road Leytonstone, , England E11 4PA 020 8281 4801

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