Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi, Neutral Bay

My brother & I have a lot of trouble deciding on where to go out for dinner. Especially for special occasions. When he finally decided on visiting Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi for his birthday dinner, I was surprised and very excited. I'd been wanting to go here for so long, after hearing so many good things about it on Here Comes the Food. The main thing keeping me away was the price, it's a little bit on the expensive side of Japanese restaurants in Sydney, and I had been saving most of my splurges for Ju-Rin. But you know what, I think this might be even better than Ju-Rin.
I was a little confused when we walked past the door that looked like the entrance to the restaurant, until my brother explained to me that it's is actually split into two sections - Ju Ge Mu is the okonomiyaki & teppanyaki restaurant and Shimbashi is the buckwheat noodle house. We were going to Shimbashi tonight, which has a more traditional decor, including regular tables and also the low tables where you remove your shoes. They were nearly full so we were only able to book a low table, but it was impressive watching the waitresses throughout the night, their balancing skills while pouring tea and serving dishes was awesome!
Soba Dips [Special] ($6.00) - Soba chips served with sashimi dip

We get some of the soba chips to start off with, and are surprised when they aren't actually noodle shaped like we expected. They taste SO GOOD though. Like an extremely fancy Dorito but with a much more interesting flavour. The sashimi dip that it comes with is absolutely delicious, a mash of salmon sashimi with mayo and lots of other tasty things. We seriously contemplate getting another serve of this, but hold off since we ordered quite a lot of food.
Oh my god, I want more!
As another starter, we order the fish tartare salad from the starter menu and are gleeful to realise that the tartare is very similar to the sashimi dip above, and comes with more soba chips! The tartare is slightly chunkier, less creamy than the dip, but just as moreish.
Fish Tartare Salad - Fish tartare & seaweed salad with Yuzu miso dressing ($18.00)
The seaweed salad is nice, tons of different types of seaweed, way better than the deceiving seaweed salad at Ju-Rin (which is basically just a green leaf salad with nori). It comes with a refreshing yuzu miso dressing and a teeny tiny smear of Japanese mustard on the lip of the plate.
Aburi Sushi ($28.00) - Today's selection of lightly seared 9pcs sushi
We couldn't pass up the aburi sushi, I love my sushi when it is lightly seared. This is one expensive, sparse plate of sushi though. Like I mentioned before, Shimbashi isn't cheap. But it was worth it I think, each piece of was lovingly crafted, with it's own matching condiment on top, some were wasabi, mustard or mayo, or daikon radish. Everything was beautiful quality and a delicious morsel that fit in your mouth in one bite. It was hard to share this plate between 4 people though, we couldn't decide who should have what, especially when there was only 1 piece of a certain fish. My brother got the cuttlefish to himself but he said it was one of the best he had ever had.
Bonito flakes & seaweed
There is an entirely separate menu just for the okonomiyaki, so we know that we have to order one. They warn us that it takes a bit longer for them to make this, I think it was something like half an hour, but trust me it is TOTALLY worth the wait. It is so freakin' good. And make sure you get the extra cheese for $2.00. We waited with anticipation, playing with the tin of bonito flakes and seaweed that they give you to add on top of your okonomiyaki.
Country Mix Special ($18.00) - Okonomiyaki with calimari, sliced potatoes, Mochi & crispy potatoes (with added Cheese $2.00)
It was really hard to pick which one to get, but we decided to go with the Country Mix Special, enticed by the sound of the potatoes and calimari. The mochi is the only thing I'm not too certain about, and truthfully it probably didn't need it. As expected it was quite sticky and very heavy when you got a big glob of mochi, but otherwise it was heavenly. The layers of potatoes, with gooey bits of cheese oozing between was sexy. And of course all that sauce and mayo on top in it's pretty patterns, it was utter food porn on a plate.
As you can imagine, this is a very filling dish. And it's a hard dish to follow, so we are all rather disappointed by the grilled beef tongue skewers that come out next. I think I prefer my tongue sliced a little thinner, since this one is quite thick and tough, so you can really feel that tongue texture as you chew into it. However, there is some nice charring on the outside and the marinade is tasty.
Grilled beef tongue ($10.00) - 2 skewes of grilled beef tongue marinated in white miso
As well as having a huge selection of okonomiyaki, they also have a large range of soba/udon selections. They are a buckwheat noodle house after all. We were hoping to get the one on the specials menu which cake with half plain buckwheat and half lemon flavoured soba, but unfortunately they were all sold out. Instead our whole table decided to try the cold soba noodles with the warm duck & Japanese mushroom broth. I would recommend sharing a large serve of the soba between two people, since they conveniently split the serving into two separate trays, avoiding the hassle of two people bending over the same bowl. Below shows you how big a half of a large serving is.
Komo & Kinoki Seiro Soba ($23.00) - Cold noodles served with warm duck & Japanese mushrooms dipping broth
The soba is nothing like the packet soba I've had in the past. It has such an amazing, rough texture, which is perfect for picking up the deliciously rich dipping broth. I don't think I can ever go back to eating regular packet soba again. I am quite happy to slurp this up very loudly.
Dipping broth
The broth is intense, concentrated with the flavour from the duck meat and all the different types of mushrooms. I absolutely adore mushrooms, especially all the Japanese varieties, and have gobbled them up straight away. When we have finished all our noodles and chunky bits from the broth, they bring us a little jug of soba water, which you add to the leftover broth until it is light enough that you can sip at it, as a cleansing hot soup. It's the perfect way to finish of the meal.
Soba-ya (Soba water)
All of us are supremely satisfied with our meal, and I am quite happy to fork over the $50 or so a head that we ended up spending. In the end we spent about the same as what I would spend at Ju-Rin, and had quite a lot of food. Of course the bill would have blown out to a lot more if we had gotten more of the sushi and sashimi, they seem to be a bit over-priced here. But the okonomiyaki, soba chips and the soba were so worth it, I am already dying to go back.
Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi
246 Military Rd
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9904 3011
Lunch: Tue-Sat: noon - 2pm
Dinner: Tue-Sun: 6 - 9.30pm
Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi on Urbanspoon
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  1. The seaweed salad looks great. The lemon flavoured soba sound fascinating and I love the okonomiyaki station on the Jugemu side - so much cooking fury!

  2. I burst out laughing when I saw the country mix special - the potato on top looks like a mouse. I'm going to get my eyes checked now.

  3. Better than Ju-rin? Wow, must be good then! I love the traditional seating with the low tables and omg how good does that okonomiyaki look?

  4. Wow your meal sounds so good! You've totally convinced me to go here - I've been wanting to go for a while but like you the price put me off a bit. The soba chips and dip sound really tasty =D

  5. Oh yum - my mouth is watering - fantastic review, I wish I lived closer so I could visit!! :)

  6. I absolutely agreed with you that their Okonomiyaki and soba are outstanding. If I ever go back to this restaurant, I will skip all other dishes and indulge in these 2 dishes.

  7. Hehe we got confused by the two entrances too :P I went there a while back and I agree it is expensive and the sushi and sashimi are a bit sparse. In fact my first thought when they brought the sushi out was "How cute, mini sushi!" lol

  8. The first time I went, the doors confused me until my friend noticed the common wall didn't run the length of either place. But I definitely agree - I have yet to discover better okonomiyaki AND better soba in Sydney. The first time I went they were doing a special as well: cucumber soba! So refreshing ^^

  9. the two restaurants confused me too! we were meant to be meeting friends and not knowing which place they ended up booking (thinking it was separate restaurants), it was bizarre to walk in one door and see our friends sitting in the other. i love the okonomiyaki here, simply can't find any place in sydney that does better!

  10. I'm so glad for people like you Steph - you always manage to tell me where the best restaurants are and what to order - I have to try this place!

  11. Oh yeah the soba dips looks and sounds like having just one serve would be impossible! Have to agree with Belle about the little mousie too :)

  12. ooh that okonomiyaki is calling me. Such a pretty pattern too!

  13. Can't believe it. I live across the road and have never visited. Have you been to Sushi Samurai? I used to go when it was in the little hole in the wall now Dan Dan. To me it has gone slightly down hill. Maybe it was just an off couple of nights??? How do they compare?

  14. Oh my...the Okonomiyaki looks amazing!

  15. I've been meaning to go to this place at some stage. I've given up all hope about finding a decent okonomiyaki place in Sydney. This might be the one... :)

  16. Helen - Haha cooking fury! I love it. Pity they didn't have the lemon soba, it sounded so refreshing!

    Belle - Hahaha I didn't even notice that until you pointed it out! Now I cant stop seeing it!

    Karen - I am not good at sitting at those tables, I had a backache! It was so good!

    Jacq - Go! It was so good, I've been thinking about it ever since. The price put me off too, but if you avoid the sushi it's not too bad

    Joy - Thanks! Yeah I wish it was right near my house!

    Ellie - Yay good to know that you like it too! Let's go!

    Lorraine - Yeah it's pretty confusing! I know, the sushi was tiny but it was really delicious!

    mademoiselle délicieuse - Oh good! I need to go back for both asap! OMG cucumber soba sound so good!

    panda - Haha good to know it wasn't just me! It's so good!

    Trissa - Haha we should go! It's probably just as expensive as Sake would have been.

    Conor - Haha that's so funny about the house. The soba dips was so moreish. Ugh I could have eaten a bucket of it.

    Forager - I always think they look so pretty but this was such a good one to eat too!

    Kate - Haha really? You should go try it. Nope sorry I haven't tried it, so I can't compare. But the quality is as good as some of the higher end Japanese restaurants that I have been to in Sydney.

    pigpigscorner - It was soooo good! All that melty cheese...

    Simon - It was really good in my opinion! I haven't had many but I always thought of them as really heavy and too gluey and the sauce being overpowering but this one was so so good!


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