Pan Asian restaurant Wagamama have launched a dish with vegan chef and YouTuber Gaz Oakley featuring a vegan egg. It looks like half a boiled egg with yellow yolk and it's hard to spot the difference. Oakley collaborated with Wagamama executive chef Steve Mangleshot to create the Japanese inspired bowl named 'the avant-gard'n' with the aim of continuing to make vegan food more interesting. The chefs at Wagamama, pioneers of plant based food, believe that meat free should not mean taste free. The vegan egg white has the same consistency as the real thing and the yolk is equally soft but it is designed to have its own unique taste.
Consisting of a coconut milk, cornflour and miso egg white and Siracha mayo yolk the avant-gard'n also features glazed BBQ seiten, king oyster mushrooms, edamame and sticky rice. The egg white is made like a firm panacotta – ingredients are combined in a bowl then cooked on a hob to thicken. The mixture is poured into an 'egg mould' which is set in the fridge for a couple hours. Then the chefs use a melon baller to dissect the yolk hole and just before serving, the chef squeezes sriracha mayonnaise into the yolk hole producing the vegan egg. The egg is 43 kcal, approximately the same as a real egg.
This is Wagamama's second collaboration in the Noodle Collab series bringing together vegan chef Gaz Oakley and executive chef Steve Mangleshot.
Gaz approached Steve with the idea of a fresh, veggie packed vegan bowl topped with barbeque glazed seitan. A natural innovator and known for 'veganising' classic dishes, Gaz introduced Steve to the idea of the vegan egg.
The egg is not intended to taste like egg but Gaz wanted the flavours to compliment the rest of the dish. Flavours of coconut, lemongrass and sriracha mayo come together to create a delicious accompanying sauce. Steve and Gaz worked closely with the Noodle Lab and Cardiff chefs to perfect the egg.
Executive chef Steve Mangleshot said: “We believe in championing plant based eating. Meat free should not mean taste free. Rather than simply modifying existing dishes to make them vegan, we want to continually innovate in this area. We have a responsibility to keep introducing vegan items to the menu with sustainable eating becoming increasingly important. We loved the fact that the egg added a new dimension of flavour to the overall dish and was not a gimmick. With Gaz's expertise, I think we've created a truly unique, delicious offering. We've had increasing demand for vegan dishes over recent years and love to explore innovative methods of delivering these in new, exciting ways. Gaz's ethos and dedication to passion for creating flavour meant he was the perfect choice for our collab."
As a nod to Gaz's Welsh roots the dish was launched in both Wagamama Cardiff locations and at their Noodle Lab restaurant on Dean Street, London. Noodle Lab is an open test kitchen for Wagamama where the public are asked to give feedback on new dishes to help them decide what goes forward to the national menu.
Gaz said: “I have been a huge fan of Wagamama since I was a kid and it's so good to see them really supporting the vegan movement. They are never afraid to innovate so this felt like a natural partnership. I was really excited about coming up with the idea of the “vegan egg” as egg features so heavily in Japanese cooking. My social media channels are called @avantgardevegan because I'm always looking to push the boundaries and try new things." He added: “This is not so much a substitute for an egg but looks the part and has a similar consistency. Most importantly, it has an incredible flavour that compliments the dish perfectly.”
The nationwide rollout of 'avant gard'n' recognises how guests needs are changing – over the last year Wagamama has seen more than 60% increase in customers choosing a vegan option as their main dish*, and it's expected this trend towards more mindful eating will continue to grow. Wagamama also announced that it has made the European Chicken Commitment, a new set of standards to improve the welfare of chickens farmed for meat. The standards laid out in the commitment provide a better living environment for chickens and are to be achieved by 2026 throughout Wagamama's supply chain in Europe.
Ross Farquhar, Chief Marketing Officer for Wagamama, said: “More and more we see guests choose to eat more mindfully, whether that's by reducing how often they have meat or selecting restaurants that bring food to their plates responsibly and sustainably. In the spirit of continuous improvement or 'kaizen', we're striving to lead the change, provide more innovative plant-based dishes and be true to the positive eating, positive living ethos we were founded on.”
*Year Ending 28/2/19 vs. Year Ending 28/2/18. Proportion of guests choosing a vegan option as their main dish rose by 64.2
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk