I found out about Jugemu/Shimbashi while on the way home from work in Dee Why. I was just sitting on the bus while it was at a bus stop and I noticed the restaurant sign across the street saying "手打ちそば" i.e. hand made soba and I was intrigued. So I google searched the restaurant and read a few reviews and they all seemed positive which made me want to try the place out since both MF and I loved trying out soba from different areas while we were in Japan. We had fears about trying out soba in Sydney because we've had such good soba we didn't want to be disappointed.
MF had plans to meet up with one of his friends so we suggested coming here since it was in the same area as our work places and it gave us an excuse for coming to try it out.
The restaurant is split into two concepts: half for the okonomiyaki and the other half for the soba. We chose to sit in the soba side of the restaurant but you can order items from both sides.
The first item to arrive was the zucchini flower tempura. It comes served as 2 pieces but since there were 3 of us, they said they could make 3 pieces instead.
The tempura batter was crisp and didn't taste very oily. The zucchini flower was perfectly cooked: soft and light.
We also got sashimi of white fish cured in konbu. I'm not sure if the konbu did anything to the fish but it came with spring onions and yuzu ginger that you mix in with your soy sauce and dip the fish in. I really liked the yuzu ginger giving the sauce some added zest and kick. Otherwise the fish itself wasn't OMG amazing but it was decent, if a bit overpriced.
And coming to the main dish! Shimbashi have a Specials Menu and the soba below is listed on it. It's three types of flavoured soba with a hot chicken and mushroom broth for dipping. The staff were kind enough to split the broth into 3 separate bowls for each of us.
The flavours of the soba changes because I've noticed other reviews ordering the same item but with different soba flavours. The only constant is the plain soba (right). In our case, we had black sesame (middle) and orange (left). I didn't think much of the black sesame as it did not impart much of a flavour to the soba. The orange on the other hand, gave it a nice aroma and citrusy flavour. MF said it tasted somewhat sweet (in a good way).
The star would be the plain soba. It had a pleasant firm texture which was chewy but not overly so. I would say that it is on par with other good sobas we have had while we were in Japan.
The chicken broth was flavourful and salty with soft pieces of chicken and juicy morsels of mushroom. When you finish the noodles, the staff give you the soba-yu (water used to cook the soba) so that you can dilute your broth and drink it. Yum!
I did feel that their soba water was on the lighter side though. It was quite watery and did not have much flavour on its own.
We ordered the Jugemu special which had pork and seafood in it. This okonomiyaki, I feel, is Japanese standard okonomiyaki. It was still soft once you cut it and the bits of seafood all tasted super fresh. My only complaint is its size. It's so small for the amount it cost!! FYI, this is Osaka style okonomiyaki so no egg or noodles in it unlike Hiroshima style.
And lastly, we have dessert. This was the Shiratama anmitsu with an additional scoop of matcha ice-cream. The bits of mochi were nice and chewy and the fruits gave the dessert additional texture without making it overly sweet.
To be honest, I probably wouldn't order it again. They had a soba dorayaki which sounded more interesting so that would be something I would order in my next visit.
Actually, we did go again recently! It was a spontaneous decision that happened after work on Friday so we didn't bring the camera. We went again because we wanted to try their zaru soba since that was what we would order when we were trying out soba in different soba restaurants.
The zaru soba is good value for the quality but again, slightly small in portion size. As we had tried the plain soba in the previous meal, we knew what to expect. The tsuyu that accompanied the soba was good but probably not quite the same as the ones in Japan unfortunately.
The other dish we ordered was the Special Winter soba - it was hot soba in a miso broth with duck and vegetables. The soba and broth tasted very homely and comforting although the duck didn't seem to go as well with the whole dish. There was a hint of spice in the soup which wasn't overempowering. I guess the restaurant changes the specials slightly depending on the season because the soba flavours were different again that time.
Overall, it was a bit overpriced for the portion sizes. However, now that we've found a restaurant in Sydney that makes their own soba by hand, we are most definitely going to keep coming back whenever we need a soba fix!
Till the next meal or snack...