Wagamama claims to have created the world’s first vegan egg.
But before you begin shouting about other plant-based alternatives already on the market from Just and other brands that Food Spark has previously featured – these all come in liquid or powder form, while Wagamama appears to have cracked the code for a solid substitute.
Its version resembles half a boiled egg and is said to have a similar consistency to the real deal. The ‘egg white’ is made from a mixture of coconut milk, cornflour and miso, which is thickened on the stove until it is firm like panna cotta. This is then poured into an egg mould, which is left to set in the fridge for a couple hours.
Once congealed, the chefs use a melon baller to create a whole and, just before serving, squeeze Sriracha mayonnaise into the gap to form the ‘yolk.’
The vegan egg contains 43kcal, approximately the same number as a real egg.
Wagamama’s experiment will be showcased as part of a Japanese-inspired bowl named The Avant-gard’n, which includes glazed BBQ seitan, king oyster mushrooms, edamame and sticky rice.
The egg was created as part of a collaboration between vegan chef Gaz Oakley and Wagamama’s executive chef Steve Mangleshot. The aim of the partnership was to continue to make vegan food more interesting, said the chain.
The ovoid concoction is not intended to taste like a poultry egg, but instead contains flavours to compliment the rest of the dish.
Mangelshot and Oakely worked closely with the chains’ chefs to perfect the egg, acknowledging that while it was initially an operational challenge, it was possible to produce a consistent product.
As a nod to Oakley’s Welsh roots, the dish was launched in both Wagamama’s Cardiff locations and at the Noodle Lab on Dean Street, London.
“We truly believe in championing plant-based eating. Meat-free should not mean taste-free,” said Mangleshot. “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 become 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 the expertise of Gaz, I think we’ve created a truly unique and delicious offering.”
Mangleshot added that the chain has seen an increasing demand for vegan dishes from customers over recent years. In February, Wagamama launched a vegan breakfast menu across its Gatwick and Heathrow restaurants.
The Avant-gard’n will be rolled out to all UK restaurants from May 15.
Oakley commented that he had been a huge fan of Wagamama since he was a kid and it was good to see them 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,” he said. “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.”
Chef collaborations appear to be an emerging trend in the chain world.
Meatliquor co-founder Scott Collins previously told Food Spark about the importance of partnering with chefs not only when it comes to innovation, but to create awareness among a new customer base. He has teamed up with the likes of Tom Kerridge and Jose Pizarro for new burgers.
“It’s a nice rubber stamp of approval, and if you are marketing something with a Michelin-starred chef involved, you are going to get their fans,” Collins explained, adding that equally Meatliquor fans who may not have heard of Kerridge or Pizarro will discover them through the collaboration.
“You will get cross-fertilisation.”