Wagamama has opened a “noodle lab” concept in London where it plans to test dishes and record immediate feedback from guests using a new digital platform.
Its Dean Street, London, site has been turned over to a development team led by executive chef Steve Mangleshot to test new food and drink concepts.
Dishes currently being assessed by guests include a vegan katsu curry made up of seitan (wheat gluten) coated in panko breadcrumbs and covered in curry sauce; squid balls with Japanese mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, nori and benito flakes; and katsu curry ice-cream.
Wagamama states on menus at the Soho site that it wants to learn “the kaizen way” as “the next great Wagamama is just one experiment, just one crazy thought, sometimes, just one lucky mistake away”.
To gather this detail, guests leave feedback using the Yumpingo platform, on which they complete a one-minute review, before their responses are analysed to provide insight into the success of each dish.
Mangleshot said: “Working with Yumpingo in our new noodle lab enables us to put our guests at the forefront of recipe experimentation and lets them push the borders of their own taste exploration.
“It’s so important that we understand what our diners think and then use their views to refine our dishes to make sure we are providing exactly the kind of food that they want. The best way to ensure a happy, returning customer is to listen to them and respond and this is what the noodle lab is all about.”
At the Noodle Lab, the system is already analysing over 100 reviews a day, with the results broken down into clear findings for the chef. The most successful dishes will be rolled out nationwide.
Wagamama marketing director, Andre Johnstone, added: “Yumpingo’s scale of guest engagement not only enables data-driven menu development, but we are also transforming how guests interact and engage with us, which, from a digital marketing perspective, is very exciting.”
Yumpingo founder and chief executive, Gary Goodman, said: “By launching this exciting new ‘noodle lab’, using insight from our food-intelligence platform, Wagamama can ensure that investment decisions on new menus, new dishes and even new ingredients that were previously based on instinct are de-risked. This is real innovation for the casual dining sector.”
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