Coming back from Japan at the end of July this year, naturally, the first thing I wanted to do when I got back was eat more Japanese food. Jugemu Shimbashi is a restaurant (two restaurants, specifically) that adhere to the tradition of restaurants specialising in one dish. Jugemu specialises in teppanyaki food, while Shimbashi specialises in soba noodles (Shimbashi’s soba noodles are hand made every day). Both of the restaurants specialise in these two things, but you can sit on any side, and order from the same menu. The restaurants are also connected, so sometimes it’s hard to distinguish which is which.
The girls and I came here on a Saturday night for our reunion dinner. We’d made a reservation because it is almost impossible to get a table at either of these restaurants without a reservation, and were seated on the Jugemu side (the modern side).
The girls and I ordered a wide assortment of things, which came out at different times.
The scallops were large and grilled just the right amount to accentuate their delicate flavour. The wasabi mayo was a nice accompaniment.
All of us were so hungry by the time our food came out that we gobbled the gyoza up without really noticing the nuances of the interior ingredients. These were fine, but nothing special and not a standout dish.
The Toro Sushi was fresh, but not amazingly so.
The assorted mushrooms contained a mix of enoki and eringi (I think) mushrooms. They were garnished in a sweet soy based sauce. It was a relatively simple dish, but one of my favourites of the night.
The Buta Tama was listed on the menu as one of the simple okonomiyaki dishes. Like it had been described, in a nutshell, it was ‘simple’. The pancake had been made well, so perfectly that it stood at a complete and utter contrast to the okonomiyaki of days past that I eaten bought from street vendors in Osaka. The pieces of pork were few and far between, and this made it feel like we were just eating bits of fried okonomiyaki batter.
The Jugemu Specials sat on the other end of the spectrum. In terms of simplicity, it was anything but. It had everything you could name: pork, scallops, calamari, and prawns, topped with shallots. It was moreish, and everyone preferred this one to its more plain counterpart.
Nasu Dengaku is one of my favourite Japanese dishes, and one not commonly found at Japanese restaurants in Sydney. The eggplant is grilled and served with a thick, sweet miso sauce, which complements the texture and flavour of the eggplant well.
The Spicy Calamari was one of the not so good dishes that I wouldn’t order again if I came here. Spicy Calamari also isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Japanese food, probably more so Thai or Laos. Served with wasabi mayo, it’s an example of a strange fusion dish that has worked its way into modern Australian cuisine, and now, even Japanese restaurants.
The handmade soba was one of the highlights of the night. The earl grey soba was my favourite out of the three, balancing the silky texture of the soba with the delicate flavour of earl grey tea. Both black sesame and earl grey had mild but undeniable flavours that paired well with the noodles’ texture. The plain buckwheat flavour was nice too, but not as interesting in comparison to the other flavours. The bowls in front were a warm dipping broth for the noodles, containing enoki mushrooms and chicken in a sauce that tasted like a very mild, watered down soy broth.
The Spider Roll contained soft shell crab tempura and mayonnaise. The soft shell crab had a nice crunch to it, and went nicely with the mayo, but again it wasn’t a standout dish.
The Tempura Soba was a comforting dish, one that was simple but done well. The tempura was served on the side to prevent it from getting soggy (although one might argue that this is one of the best parts of eating tempura soba).
After all of the above dishes, the girls and I still weren’t completely full, so we ordered one more dish, which was the Pork Tonkatsu. The crumbed exterior was flaky and separated easily from the meat, which I didn’t like because it reminded me of store bought schnitzels. The thick miso sauce was delicious paired with it. After eating this last thing, all of us were full and called for the bill.
Six of us had shared all the dishes, and split equally, the bill came to around $50 per head. There had been several hit and miss dishes, which calls into mind the Japanese idea of being an expert in one area; namely, if you come here, don’t bother eating anything that’s not hand made noodles or pan-grilled.