It had been too long since our last meal at Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi and we missed the slippery smooth texture of their handmade soba as well as their okonomiyaki. Monsieur Poisson suggested it as a catch-up location when his friend was back in Sydney for a brief stint from London, and the place was most accommodating when we had last minute additions (2 adults and 2 young children, no less) to our dining party.
Once we have everyone assembled, we settle in with some soba chips which are a hit with the kids and allow the rest of us some time to peruse the menu.
I’m surprised when the soba chips arrive as a tangle of deep-fried stringy noodles, as I’m sure I’ve seen photos of it somewhere as flat, potato chip-style things? They’re crunchy and not at all greasy, but could do with some liberal salting in my opinion.
Next up we have some more nibbling-type food in the form of edamame, which turn out to be quite a revelation for me. I am normally not a fan of these boiled, young soy beans as the squishy texture of the overcooked pods – although discarded and not eaten themselves – are a bit of a turn-off for me. But the edamame here are just cooked enough for the sweet little gems within to be popped through and, in contrast to the soba chips, are very well seasoned.
We’ve also ordered a serve each of chicken and pork gyoza to share. They’ve been split so that four of each appear on each plate and there is an initial confusion as how to tell, and taste, the two apart. It transpires that the chicken ones are sweeter and juicier, whilst the pork ones have a meatier flavour. Nevertheless, both are enclosed in thin dumpling wrappers and are fried to golden-bottomed crispiness.
Once again Monsieur Poisson and I find it hard to go past ordering something from the specials menu, especially when our attention is caught by the promise of flavoured soba. In this case it’s the ‘Three-flavoured tori & kinoko seiro soba’ with green tea, Earl Grey and plain soba served cold accompanied by a hot chicken and mushroom dipping broth. The soba is wonderful without even a hint of graininess and the tea flavoured ones are most refreshing, with the Earl Grey being much more subtle in taste than the green tea variety. As with our last visit, the staff considerately split this serve of soba in two when Monsieur Poisson indicates that we will be sharing it between us.
And then we have the okonomiyaki. It’s the ‘Ju Ge Mu Special’ which features such wonderful things as bacon, scallops, prawns and calamari covered in a tangy barbecue sauce, spring onions and squiggles of mayonnaise. As always served with a tin of nori flakes and bonito shavings (AKA sawdust, by one Dr King) alongside for sprinkling, the okonomiyaki is savoury, sweet, salty and tangy all at once – should rate highly on the umami scale, yes?
Monsieur Poisson and I do not pass up on dessert this time. He goes for the ‘Zenzai ice-cream’ which has the simple combination of green tea ice-cream, azuki beans and ‘slippery dumplings’. Actually, at first, he orders this entirely out of curiosity for what the ‘slippery dumplings’ could be, and all is revealed when the dessert arrives with flat discs of unfilled mochi – chewy glutinous goodness!
As for me, I revisit the ‘Ice-cream Tempura’ fondly remembered from a previous visit. There’s actually not a lot of ice-cream within, but I’m quite taken by the hidden raspberries and their tartness contrasted by the chocolate sauce. The tempura coating is crisp and any possible greasiness is negated by the pieces of fresh fruit alongside.
Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi
246 Military Rd, Neutral Bay NSW
Tel: (02) 9904 3011
Opening Hours: Mon CLOSED
Tue-Sat 12pm-2pm (lunch)
Tue-Sun 6pm-9:30pm (dinner)