Jugemu and Shimbashi, Neutral Bay

For my birthday this year, I chose Jugemu and Shimbashi, in Neutral Bay.  It’s actually two restaurants. One side specialises in teppanyaki and the other side in traditional Japanese cuisine (aka non teppanyaki in my lay person terms hehehe).  What attracted me to this restaurant was that it is known for its hand made soba. A man sits in a booth at the front every day stretching buckwheat into compliance and forming the day’s noodles.  I haven’t ever been able to witness this, however the room is still there for all to see in its floury authenticity!

The menu is vast, and has everything – you get both the teppanyaki and standard food menu in one.  The best thing is that the dishes are small (with not so small prices in some cases!) so you can order a variety of things to try.  I wanted to try the Japanese egg omelette.  Oops, I didn’t realise it was just the sushi egg – but sliced thicker!  It was served warm, with some grated fresh daikon.  It was $8 for four pieces.

We wanted to try the dragon roll, which was $18.  It consisted of 8 pieces of sushi, freshly fried soft shell crab with roe rolled into the rice.  It was very yummy, but alas, no avocado, and to be honest, we thought the servings were very stingy – given that I could have 3 plates of dragon roll (of 3 pieces) at Umi Kaitzen in Haymarket!  But aside from the price, it was very very nice.  What wasn’t welcome however, was the 50c charge for extra wasabi.  I have never been to a place that charges for that – it would have been appreciated if the waitress would warn us beforehand.

I was very curious to try the rice balls.  They were kinda like Japanese arancini of sticky rice – seasoned rice balls, but disappointingly again, with no filling, just rice balls.  They were $8 for two.

For me, the highlight of the evening was the freshly teppan fried gyoza. You can choose from chicken or pork (we chose pork).  What makes them a cut above the rest is the juicy filling which was wrapped very tightly in the wrapper – not loose clumsy parcels like many other versions. Also, the bases were crunchy and the wrapper just the right thickness.  $10 for 6.  You’ll need maybe two serves they are so good! :)

Another special of the restaurant is the Japanese pancake (okonomiyaki).  Several versions are on offer. Standard chicken or prawn or wagyu beef ones at $13 each, or “special” ones for around $19 each.  They are served with a little box of the condiments – dehyrated parsley, and very finely sliced bonito flakes, you know, those moving tentacle type things that  are served on top!

I have a confession.  I loathe mayonnaise.  And every sour white creamy type of sauce.  Creme fraiche, sour cream, my worst nightmare!  Yes, even sweet Japanese mayo!  So since it happens to sneak itself onto many Japanese dishes, I requested the pancake sans mayo.  We selected the special one. It had pork and two split prawns on top.  It was quite small. I was actually annoyed at the waitress, because we wanted to order 2 pancakes between 4, but she INSISTED that one would be enough… lo and behold, it wasn’t :( And then when we wanted to order another one, we were told it would be a 30 minute wait! Not happy Jan!  But hungry!!

A-ha!  Just dug out some photos from last year – and check it out, last year it was bigger and thicker ;)

Finally, to taste what we came for – handmade soba. And enter, second issue with the waittress’s recommendations.  At Jugemu, when you order a soba dish to share, they pre-divide it up for you into individual serves, so one order will be brought out in two dishes for you, so you can elegantly share without dripping all over the place.    Actually, this was very nice when I came with one friend, but with four, we thought, let’s just put it all in the middle.  Oh no, can’t do that.  She will split it for us, and therefore we will need to order two serves in order for there to be enough.  (How about increasing the serving size then? ;) ).  So in the end, I thought, right, I would rather order something else, let’s just get one serve and the lady can divide it into three, to please herself.  Not happy with that, she then asked us to order extra noodles for another $4. *sigh*. Very bossy this lady.  Anyway, this experience really wrecked it for me.  Here are the noodles:

Here is the really salty dipping broth.

I really really loved Jugemu and Shimbashi last year, which is why I wanted to go for my birthday this year.  But after the pushy waittress, I really don’t think I will come back :( Coupled with the poor value for money.    But anyway, if you wanted to try hand made noodles or okonomiyaki, this is the place for you.

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