I must have walked past this unassuming Japanese restaurant in Neutral Bay a hundred times, without realising that I was missing out on some high quality dishes. This is a combined restaurant; half of it specialises in teppanyaki and the other half in soba noodles. You can order from both menus regardless of which side you sit on, and tonight we’re seated on the teppanyaki side where we watch the chefs do their thing.
We start off our night with some frozen sake, an interesting treat of sweet plum wine that has been lightly frozen with little bits of ice in it and tastes great. It’s a shame there’s only 180ml of it to share between us 2.
Frozen ume sake Mizore, 180ml for $10
The service is quite prompt and our first entrée comes out almost immediately. For entrees we have opted for the soba dips since this is a place known for their quality soba noodles. The soba dips are literally just 6 deep fried sticks of soba noodle sheets, more like soba crisps and served with sashimi and avocado dip. The sashimi was fresh but it was hard to dip the crunchy soba crisps in and eat it classily.
Soba dips, $6
Our other entrée was the korokke, 2 pieces of potato croquette. They were light golden, nicely battered with bread crumbs and glorious creamy potato mash on the inside mixed with onions and minced beef. A very comforting hot snack which was quickly gobbled down.
We have also ordered the crispy rice balls, which we watched getting grilled on the hot plate teppanyaki by the chefs. They are lightly crunchy on the outside but have some spicy soy flavour on the inside with some chives on top. It is served with special miso sauce which goes great with it.
Crispy rice balls, 2 for $7
For our mains, we ordered today’s hand made kawari special and unusual soba noodles – which consists of the original buckwheat soba and a more interesting flavour of shichimi giro (7 spiced chilli). These noodles are served cold with warm chicken and Japanese mushroom dipping broth. We chose the larger serving to share between us 2 and they very considerately split the portion into 2 servings for us. The chilli in the 7 spice noodles is subtle at first but gets quite hot later. The dipping broth which it comes with is salty but very delicious and authentic tasting, especially with the cabbage, shallots and carrots that are floating in the soup. The soba noodles themselves are thin but springy, hinting at their handmade origins.
Today’s handmade Soba noodles, $26 for large serving
The soup is quite concentrated and salty, so it’s hard to drink once you’ve finished dipping the soba noodles in. They have ingeniously saved the water used to boil the soba noodles in a little pot that they bring out to you at the end and you dilute the broth with that water, as it has some residual flavour from the boiled noodles. So smart. The soup finally becomes drinkable rather than going to waste, and we drink it all down, savouring the umami taste.
Lastly came the Shimbashi sushi roll – their signature roll is made with chilli salmon and mayonnaise with roe on top. It is a very flavoursome combo, there’s no need to dip it in soy sauce and the roe is very bubbly, popping in your mouth as you munch through it. I also liked how the 8 little rolls were teardrop shaped rather than the usual circles.
I get the feeling that Jugemu and Shimbashi will become one of my regular haunts because it’s decently priced for the great quality food that you get and has a comfortable ambience, with genuine Japanese service and beautiful interior decor.
Jugemu and Shimbashi
246 Military Road Neutral Bay NSW 2089, Australia
Phone: (02) 9904 3011