Handmade noodles. There is something about them - perhaps the extra bite and chewyness, the fact that it's fresh, or just that it's been made with love - that makes them special. Here at Jugemu & Shimbashi, the soba noodles are all three of these things, with the noodles being freshly made by hand (and with love!) before each service and perfectly chewy.
The restaurant consists of two sides: Jugemu, which specialises in okonomiyaki and teppanyaki, on one side and Shimbashi, a buckwheat noodle house, on the other. Tonight we are seated on the Shimbashi side in a sunken wooden table where we must remove our shoes first. We're given the menu which includes items from both sides of the restaurant, as well as an A4 sheet detailing their specials for today.
(left) Soba dips - $6; (right) Grilled beef tongue (2pcs) - $8
To start we order the soba dips to nibble on. The crunchy soba crisps are the perfect vehicle for the avocado and minced salmon sashimi dip and the dish is light enough to just whet the appetite. Sir D and I also share the grilled beef tongue skewers which are tender and flavoursome from the white miso marinade.
Asparagus wrapped with pork belly - $18
I can't resist the allure of pork belly so we also get some asparagus wrapped with pork belly. The pork belly is like streaky bacon wrapped around a spear of asparagus. It's served with a sprinkling of pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and dollops of wasabi mayo.
Grilled black cod in sweet miso - $25
The two beautiful pieces of black cod glazed with a sweet miso and sake marinade are perfectly cooked with the flavours being infused into the soft flesh. It's served with pickled daikon, grated radish and soba miso.
Tempura udon - $20< Each of us in the group orders our own serve of noodles. The soba noodles come on a bamboo mat and can be paired with a variety of broths and dipping sauces, or with tempura. In addition to soba, they also serve udon noodles in soup.
Three-flavoured tori and kinoko seiro soba - $25
We decide to go all out and order the special handmade soba for today. The noodles arrive in shades of green on the bamboo mat and are green tea flavoured, green pea flavoured and plain buckwheat. The noodles are cold but are dipped into the hot chicken and Japanese mushroom dipping broth for flavour. I find that the green pea (light green) noodles don't differ in flavour much to the plain ones, but the green tea noodles have a distinct tea flavour which is mildly bitter.
Country mix special okonomiyaki - $18
The group decides to share two okonomiyaki to sample the other specialty of the restaurant. These take the longest to arrive but when they do it's a glorious sight. The country mix special is filled with calamari, sliced potatoes and mochi and is a starch lover's delight. It has a beautiful pattern of Kewpie mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce on the top and is adorned by a few lotus root chips.
Jugemu special okonomiyaki - $20
The Jugemu special contains all the usual okonomiyaki ingredients - flour, eggs, cabbage - but also thrown into the mix is pork belly, prawn, calamari and scallop. It's almost a lucky dip what you take a slice from the pancake but it makes each bite slightly different.
We're also given a small metal box which contains aonori (dried seaweed flakes) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) which we add to our slices as we please. I never get tired of watching the bonito flakes dance on top of my food!
Though it's not the cheapest feed, it's definitely worth a visit to try out their handmade soba and okonomiyaki dishes. I know that if I ever have soba cravings this is the first place I'll head to!
Jugemu & Shimbashi
246 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
Ph: +61 2 9904 3011
Lunch: Tuesday to Sunday, noon-2pm
Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, 6pm-9.30pm (last order)
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