It was half term and Molly and I were heading to Wagamama’s for lunch. Molly loves Wagamama’s – the Duck Gyoza’s are amazing and dairy free. For a main she was planning to order Sea Food Broth. It’s a wonderful coconut milk noodle dish with fish, mussels, squid and all things delicious. It’s not understatement to say that this is her favourite meal and she was so looking forward to having it.
So off we went…with Molly virtually skipping down the road in happy anticipation of a fabulous meal. When we got there the horrible truth was revealed…no more seafood broth. It has been replaced with a similar dish with breaded fish. So naturally the breaded fish has eggs which make it a no go for us.
For people without allergies this must sound like no big deal. So a restaurant no longer has your favourite dish – so what? Just order something else. But that’s the rub. Ordering something else means wading through the allergen menu and discussing what can be substituted and what can’t. It’s a painful and laborious process and one I usually do before going to a restaurant. It can easily take 20 minutes of staff rushing back and forth having discussions with the kitchen. The process is often one of managing disappointment – ‘no I’m sorry we can’t adjust that dish’. It’s hard on a kid to sit there listening to option after option disappearing.
Of course restaurants change the menu’s from time to time; but it’s a shame when a dish that is clear of two of the major allergens disappears from the menu. All the Ramen and Teppanyaki dishes have egg now so that’s a clean sweep. When you’ve a child with allergies you become consumed with rushing around finding alternatives to eat, finding safe food to take to parties and adjusting recipes at home to suit the allergies. With all the ‘busy busy’ going on we forget the emotional impact on kids. That doing what everyone else can do easily, is hard work for them. That we constantly have to explain ourselves when out and about and share information with strangers that our kids would rather kept private. Kinda takes the fun away, which is why, it’s such a shame when a safe option disappears from sight. It’s so nice to order food without all the rigmarole.
The manager was lovely. She recognised us; and remembered the allergy issues and was very helpful. But I’m afraid the tears were threatening by this point as the disappointment got the better of my daughter. In these instances I think a change of scene is the best move. Clear the air – go somewhere else. There’s no point in having a disappointing meal because it’s a quick fix rather than something you want. So we decanted to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for grilled chicken burgers with avocado and bacon with rosemary fries.
I will now wade through the menu again…pop into the restaurant to check out a few things and discuss with my daughter options for eating at Wagamama’s so that next time we arrive we know what we can eat before we get there. Sure, its hard work for the parents, but it’s really hard on the kids.
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Allergy UK is a great charity providing information and help for people with allergies.
Their hotline is staffed by wonderful people offering their help free of charge.
Their number is: 01322 619 898
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