Handmade cold soba noodles?
IMHO the best okonomiyaki in Sydney?
Hot day and beer?
A while ago I came across Simon Thomsen's review of Jugemu & Shimbashi while I was trawling through the web at work. What made its lasting impression in my mind was the mention of soba noodles made on premises by Chef Masahiko Tojo, and let's be frank here, who doesn't love the bite of freshly handmade noodles?
Before I create any confusion here, let me just take a moment to explain the unique structure of the restaurant. Essentially it is one restaurant split into two distinctive sections, each with its own style of decor and character. Jugemu is in the style of a Teppanyaki bar, while the side which JL and I were seated was Shimbashi, decorated in a traditional noodle bar fashion. It's still the same restaurant though, and dishes may be ordered from both sides.
In the front of the restaurant is a small room dedicated to soba-making. Flour is milled fresh on premise only hours before it is cooked to order. This gives the soba noodles a distinctively resilient bite and quite a rustic texture on every strand.
Mixed Sushi Platter - $28
We started off the evening with a plate of Mixed Sushi Platter. While the photo may not show it, but these were perfect bite size pieces of Tuna, Salmon, Kingfish, Scallop and Prawn Nigiri. In one corner were six salmon mini-rolls -- also bite size pieces.
Kamo & Kimoko Soba Noodles -$23
Being an avid duck lover, my pick was obvious - Kamo & Kimoko Soba noodles (Duck and Mushrooms).
The broth was beautifully tasty, and surprisingly light and non-oily given that it's duck. The duck meat was tender, though I wouldn't say melt-in-your mouth, but it was nicely seasoned with natural sweetness of duck and not overly rich either.
The noodles come out separately in a fan shaped dish lined with a bamboo mat. The way to eat it is you pick up a few strands of noodles with your chopstick and gently dip it into the salty broth, before slirping the goodness up. Once the noodles are finished, you are served a small pot of soba water (the water they cooked the soba in), and you pour it into the salty broth to dilute it to a level where you may drink the broth to finish off your meal.
It's an art I tell you...
Tempura Soba - $19
JL couldn't get past the Tempura Soba (and with good reason too). The tempura were all lightly fried and fresh. We're usually so used to seeing Tempura Udon, but I must say that to have it with Soba is definitely a lighter option.
Jugemu Special - Prawns, Scallops, Calamari - $20
Lastly, we had...
Ok I'm not exaggerating when I say this...but it really was the MOST DELICIOUS OKONOMIYAKI I've had in Sydney.
I'm not even a fan of the stuff usually, but this one here definitely blew my mind away. I was a tad sad that I didn't save enough stomach for it (soba is surprisingly filling...and beer too). The cabbage was sliced ever-so-finely and there was a perfect sauce-to-okonomiyaki ratio. The shrimp were bursty and the scallops were just cooked and still sweet and delicate. The okonomiyaki is actually quite thick compared to what we're used to seeing around the place and diehard purists would mourn the death of authenticity, but I think the thickness brings out the natural flavours of the ingredients and retains a good texture so much more than thin ones. I'm usually disappointed when I get to a point where I feel as if I'm eating more sauce than the okonomiyaki itself, but not this one.
We were sad to not be able to finish the plate, but we doggy bagged it so it wouldn't go to waste.
Would I revisit? Definitely. Especially since I've yet to discover the other half of the restaurant.
Jugemu & Shimbashi
246 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
Tel: (02) 9904 3011