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A stylish second member of Alan Yau’s attempt to re-create a chain as successful as his first, Wagamama, has become; it’s drearily located, though, and leaves us unconvinced that the formula will be able to maintain the ‘destination’ status to which it apparently aspires.

Gosh, what a ghastly position for a restaurant with any pretensions to style. The second branch of Alan Yau’s new oriental chain is located not, like the first, off a street (Carnaby) whose very name resonates with fashion history. Rather, it stands among the dreary mid-market operations that cluster around the cinema entrance on the top (public) floor of the Whiteley’s shopping centre, in Bayswater.

Let’s just say that, from Alan Yau (the original ‘Mr Wagamama’), it’s no surprise that the style level of the long- bamboo-roofed room simply blows all the oppo away. Can he keep this up as the chain expands? Time will tell.

The initial one-price-fits–all-menu has now been abandoned (both in Soho and here), and most of the noodle and so on dishes are now £3.50 to £5.50. With the peculiarity of the pricing policy now history, it’s somehow rather easier to form a clearer view on the basic critical questions. How was it for you? Or, as we’re writing this, how was it for us?

Even with these increased prices, we still had a perfectly pleasant lunch here, for less than £20 (for one). There‘s little objectively wrong with the formula. The setting, as noted above, is unusually chic, and the smartly turned-out staff deliver a level of efficiency that verges on excessive. On the food front, though, there’s a certain sameiness about the ‘offer’, and the whole experience passes so quickly, that there’s a risk of leaving thinking, “is that it?”.

Admittedly, before a film, this might indeed be the least-worst option hereabouts, but would we actually ever make a positive decision to brave the cheerless ascent to lunch or dine here?

We’d have to say not.

From £18/head

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