Eating out with young children brings its own special challenges.

Before little ones, it’s easy – consult the other half, choose jointly-favoured cuisine, go and eat.

But the children make it a much more complicated affair.

What do they like (and definitely not like)?

Where was that place we went where they ate nothing but it cost £100?

And where can we go where we might be able to smuggle some vegetables into their diet?

For us Wagamama hits the right spot.

First off, it’s quick. Despite what sometimes looks like chaos all around, the well-oiled machine means that you’re never waiting too long for sustenance.

And most importantly, BOTH my children love it.

From the babyccinos to the noodles to the ice cream (and everything in between) it’s a big hit.

So we’ve been - a lot – over the past seven years or so to what is known to my children as Noodle World (in opposition to Meatball World, which is obviously IKEA). Most of those visits were in Southampton in my pre-Adver life, but since being here, we’ve homed in on the Outlet Village.

I’ve been a big fan of Wagamama since it opened its first outlet in Bloomsbury – it was a great place to go for a cash-strapped student looking for a good feed (and a bottomless cup of green tea).

Obviously, since the mid-1990s, it’s become a slightly larger affair, but it’s not suffered for it and not changed.

Communal tables, check, food-when-it’s-ready-even-if-in-bonkers-order, check, relatively inexpensive, check, deliciously moreish, check.

But one of the hardest things I find about Wagamama is not just ordering what I’ve been eating since back in the day, namely yaki udon.

This time I decided to get only things I’d not ordered before.

To start we shared tori kara age – basically delicious chunks of chicken in a crispy coating with a spicy sesame and soy sauce to dredge them through. Yum.

My daughter tried a bit, but there was a bit too much zip for her seven-year-old palate – all fine though, as it meant more for us.

For main it was all about the slurping – both me and my wife went for ramen.

Hers was chicken, mine the tantanmen beef brisket.

Mine came steaming in a huge bowl, a rich chicken broth with noodles, kimchee, coriander, chilli oil, a tea-stained egg and the all-important brisket.

There’s no graceful way to eat a ramen, you just have to do your best to transport it from the bowl to your face with a minimum of


Slurping is inevitable and, apparently, the sign of a good ramen in Japan, which is lucky, as I slurped. A lot.

The chicken ramen got the thumbs up – a simpler affair but not the worse for it. A bowl of goodness.

The children went for their tried and tested favourites – she had the mini grilled chicken noodles, he went for the mini chicken cha han.

Both come with a mix of veg, which means they’re getting at least one of their five a day.

My determined son ploughed on with the children’s chopsticks until every scrap was gone – a good review in itself.

Being children with insatiable appetites, they both had pud – the vanilla ice cream and the ice lolly, which comes complete with actual fruit within. Both big hits.

My wife had the white chocolate ginger cheesecake.

After watching her eat three bites, I couldn’t resist. It was both light and lovely – exactly what you need after a big tea.

All of this was completed in less than an hour, so not enough time for the children to get restless.

So for me Wagamama hits all the right notes, from a quick lunch on your own to a family sit-down, it gets my vote.