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Wagamama launched its new summer menu earlier this week, featuring new Japanese-inspired additions to elevate the guest experience over the warmer months coming.

Launched nationwide, the menu features new mains, small plates, and desserts, including the saku saku soba, crispy otsumami, and Thai beef salad.

In Japanese, ‘saku saku’ describes the unique sound made when biting into something crispy. The new noodle dish offers a choice of crisp factor – shredded duck or pulled shiitake mushrooms – cooked on the teppan to achieve the perfect char.

Another addition is the tataki – thinly sliced cuts of beef fillet, salmon, or smoky tofu – drizzled with yuzu sauce.

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Otsumami refers to snackable small plates shared over drinks in Japanese izakayas. Wagamama’s new otsumami option is ‘made for summer sharing’, with squares of crispy fried rice – soaked in soy and yuzu dressing – and stacked with either beef fillet, sushi grade salmon, or pulled shiitake mushroom. These are topped with smashed avocado, edamame, and sriracha mayo.

Meanwhile, the new Thai beef salad offers tender strips of marinated premium cut steak.

The casual dining brand leans heavily into textures here, with a range of crispy options to provide a satisfying crunch factor.

It also taps into trends for premiumisation, whether through sushi-grade salmon or premium steak.

Ingredients like soy and shiitake mushroom stay true to the brand’s Japanese-inspired roots, while weaving umami notes into the menu.

Additions such as avocado and edamame cap off the innovation with health-led, on-trend ingredients. With a 50% plant-based menu, the tofu and mushroom options cater to a variety of diets even as the menu features new protein accompaniments like the shredded duck.

Rounding off the new lineup are dessert options, with the crispy momo meringue cake and baked yuzu cheesecake.

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In addition, a new drinks menu offers Asian-inspired flavours such as ‘pad thai sour’ – a cocktail inspired by the Thai stir fried classic. It combines vodka, rum, and passion fruit, spiced with lime, lemongrass, and tamarind, and topped with fried rice noodle.

The ‘lychee blush sangria’ is a refreshing option, with yuzu and lychee puree paired with pink pinot blush.

The ‘green samurai’ similarly evokes the refreshing, citrusy flavour of yuzu, fused with Midori and Asahi and served over ice.

Wagamama has also created a new cocktail exclusively on offer at Heathrow Airport, where the chain also serves a breakfast menu. The ‘breakfast in Tokyo’ cocktail is made of sweet and zesty papaya gin, with citrusy flavours again coming into play through blood orange and yuzu sherbet.

As a key on-trend ingredient, yuzu features from drinks to mains and sides, with the citrus fruit repurposed heavily across the menu.

On top of the trend factor, yuzu also lends its refreshing citrus flavour to the new items, making it an ideal ingredient for summer menu innovation.

Wagamama has further introduced ‘shinrin yoku’ experiences in select restaurants across the country from mid-May to celebrate its new menu.

Shinrin yoku is inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing. Guests can dine beneath forest-style canopies encouraging them to “mindfully immerse themselves in nature and savour their surroundings.”

These features within restaurants top off the food innovation by bringing in authenticity and credibility as Wagamama goes back to its roots, debuting not only new dishes but also new décor inspired by Japanese culture.