- Teresa Gubbins, Culture Map

An international restaurant name specializing in Asian-inspired dishes is coming to Dallas: Wagamama is opening a location at 2601 Olive St., occupying one of two restaurant spaces on the street level of The Link at Uptown, a new 25-story office tower situated between Uptown Dallas and Victory Park.

According to a representative from the company, the goal is to open by the end of 2022.

Wagamama was founded in 1992 in London, where it built a reputation for Asian food in a vibrant, egalitarian environment. They currently have more than 200 locations in 27 countries, including six locations in the U.S.

The concept pulls flavors from Japan, China, and Korea to create a fresh take on Asian-fusion food, including noodle and rice dishes, salads, juice, tea, wine, sake, and Asian beers.

Highlights include:

  • Shiok chicken, a collaborative dish with Shu Han Lee featuring chicken marinated in turmeric, garlic, and ginger, with coconut-lemongrass rice
  • Pad thai
  • Chicken katsu curry, panko-crusted fried chicken in a signature curry sauce
  • Short rib ramen
  • Asian bao buns with pork pork belly and panko apple
  • Avant Gard’n, vegan barbecue-glazed seitan with coconut and Sriracha vegan egg, shiitake mushrooms, and asparagus, showcasing Wagamama’s vegan flair
  • Steak bulgogi, marinated sirloin steak and miso-fried baby eggplant on soba noodles, with sesame-bulgogi sauce
  • Banana katsu, banana in panko breadcrumbs with salted caramel ice cream

In England, the chain has a serious commitment to plant-based eating, with about 50 percent of its menu vegan, as part of an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, which is worsened by consumption of meat and dairy.

This is not the first time Wagamama has come to Dallas. The chain once had an outlet located at NorthPark Center, now closed.

But in 2020, Wagamama entered a partnership with Conversion Venture Capital as financial partners and Robert Cornog Jr. and Richard Flaherty as operating partners.

Cornog and Flaherty, who run the Punch Bowl Social chain, are plotting a major Wagamama expansion across the U.S., especially in the South and Southeast, the most recent opening being Atlanta, and more locations penciled in for Tampa, Florida and Arlington, Virginia.