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Wagamama: the Way of the Noodle Paperback – 31 Oct 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Boxtree (31 Oct. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852839988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852839987
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 0.7 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

Zen and the art of cooking noodles: recipes and more from the hugely successful Wagamama franchise

From the Author

Like they say in Tampopo, all noodle eaters are amateurs.
I wrote this book early in '94, having spent most of the previous year planning it with Alan Yau, the founder of wagamama, and finding a publisher, Boxtree. Since waga is a high volume fast food concept, it's product isn't easily replicated in a domestic environment and so, rather than a straight recipe book, we wanted to make something between a lifestyle manual and a record of the pilot site in Streatham Street.

Rather than worry about the 'accuracy' of the recipes - which I wrote and the waga chefs checked - we tried to explain the process of 'building' ramen soups: getting the soup right; cooking the noodles properly; adding the toppings and seasonings. We also wanted to convey some basic nutritional facts and to explain the wagamama philosophy of 'positive eating + positive living'. Researching this aspect of the book had a profound affect on me, got me into juicing, and changed the way I thought about food.

Over the time that I researched and wrote this book, Alan Yau paid for me to attend one of the first of Antony Robbin's 'fire walk' seminars to be held in the UK. I quit smoking - for six months - bought a juicer and started to be a lot more discriminating about what I ate. I also became pretty expert at making noodle soups at home and, with practice, it's not a lot of effort.

To illustrate the ramen-making method, we made extensive reference to Juzo Itami's seminal movie, Tampopo. A 'ramen eastern' - as opposed to a 'spaghetti western' - this is perhaps the ultimate foodie film. I had to phone Beverly Hills lawyers to get clearance to quote from the script and use some stills, but permission was granted, no problem... Itami went on to make a satirical film about the Japanese mob and wound up dead before his time.

Boxtree bought in Bradbury and Williams to design the book and they introduced us to Michael Freeman, who was willing to work cheap if we gave him the freedom to experiment with new Photoshop effects, and our friend, Akio Morishima, brought in Phil Sayer to do black and white 'reportage' shots of the restaurant during the day. My favourite is on page 87, of YC laying down the law, although the caption is a lie: that was 11.06am! We insisted that the book should cost ten quid, not 9.99. Though that price has now been shaved, as the internet makes dashi of the book trade!

The 'Way of wagamama' section at the end of the book caused the most argument between the collaborators and had to be re-written a few times. In the end, Kaizen was never successfully implemented at wagamama (we still watch Bruce Lee movies, though). The second waga, a grandiose project in Lexington Street, Soho, went dramatically over budget, necessitating a dissolution of the share holding. By the time the third waga was opened, Alan was out of the company.

Way Of The Noodle was published in September '94 and Alan threw a great party at the Imagination Building in Bloomsbury. Since then, the original publisher has been bought out by Macmillan and the book republished in a new imprint, New Leaf. So has Alan Yau been bought out of wagmama ltd, which owns the copyright on this book.

The noodle bar concept wagamama introduced to London has been imitated by chains now too numerous to mention and this book has served as a template for some, who've copied the product without comprehending the philosophy that informed it. The rapidly-expanding wagamama chain of today has abandoned the ideas we explored in 'Way Of The Noodle' and Michael's photos look a bit dated now, but I'm still proud of this book.


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