Wagamama's communal tables are capital's favourite

Now the Wagamama chain of noodle bars, famous for canteen-style communal tables where diners slurp noodles with strangers at budget prices, has gained recognition as London's most popular restaurant.

The more expensive, Mayfair-based Nobu was shoved down one from the top spot, which it has held for the past three years in the Zagat Restaurant Guide. The Ivy was third.

The chain's success reflects Londoners' growing taste for informal and affordable dining, says Zagat Survey's 2006 London Restaurants guide. Waga-mama was ranked only 35th in the guide when it launched 10 years ago. But this year, 50 per cent of reviewers said they were happy to share a table with strangers and a mere 12 per cent said they would walk away if a restaurant offered only communal seating.

Sholto Douglas-Home, editor of the 2006 guide, said: "After a three-year reign as the capital's favourite, Nobu has been knocked off its perch by an energetic Asian chain with communal tables and reasonably priced eats."

He told the London Evening Standard: "Wagamama's ascendancy is all the more surprising given that it does not take reservations and seats diners at communal tables, hardly the hallmarks of a high-scoring restaurant, yet typical of Londoners' growing desire to eat casually."

London's first Wagamama restaurant opened in Bloomsbury in 1992, founded by the Michelin-starred restaurateur Alan Yau. Since then, 49 more outlets have openedin Britain and around the world. This month, Wagamama will open a second outlet in Manchester, and has an opening planned in Norwich this winter.

Ian Neill, the chief executive or Wagamama Limited, said: "I am absolutely delighted to hear the Zagat guide have rated us London's most popular restaurant. I am particularly pleased in the confirmation this will give to our staff that they are doing a consistently great job, serving 70,000 Londoners a week."

Wagamama scrapped a flotation plan last September, but a majority stake was sold to private equity house Lion Capital in a deal valuing the business at £102m in June this year.

The most popular restaurants

1. Wagamama

2. Nobu

3. The Ivy

4. Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's

5. J Sheekey

6. Gordon Ramsay at 68 Royal Hospital Road

7. Zuma

8. Hakkasan

9. The Square

10. Le Gavroche

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific