Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi, Neutral Bay

Dumpling Sister is off gallivanting around Europe, and I can't tell you just how incredibly envious I am.  Since, she's away for sometime, envious or not we decided to have an official bon voyage dinner for her.  Dining out seems to be my responsibility on my side of the family, which is great as it gave Cheesecake Boy and I a chance to dine at one of our old favourites being Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi.

Now bookings here are a must.  Otherwise, make sure all your fingers are crossed before you enter one of the two entrances of this establishment.  If you enter through Ju Ge Mu you are walking into their teppanyaki domain, but last Saturday we had other ideas as we entered through Shimbashi, where they specialise in soba.  However, it doesn't matter where you sit as you can order from both menus, I just didn't want to smell like barbeque after dinner, so that's why I booked to dine at Shimbashi, but one of these days I'd love to sit at the teppanyaki bar at Ju Ge Mu.

I was going to be good and not drink that night, but I got intrigued when I saw the words 'frozen sake' on the drinks menu.  I chose the plum wine sake, and a small vessel of very frosty umeshu mizore was served to me.  It's incredibly refreshing and the icy bits makes you chew it down as well.

Frozen sake of umeshu mizore (180mls), $10

Cheesecake Boy went for a beer as he never says no to a drink and if he does, well you know he must be ill.  He went for his Japanese beer of choice being an Asahi.

Asahi, $8.50

Yes this is a Japanese establishment and you are looking at a bowl of what they refer to here as kimuchi, but Cheesecake Boy is obsessed with kimchi and we have to order this every time he sees this on the menu.  A dainty portion of kimuchi was served to us in a love heart bowl, and I usually avoid kimchi in fear of burning my tongue off.  However, this was more sour than spicy, and was actually quite nice.  Cheesecake Boy gave his seal of approval.

Kimuchi, $5

My sister Pumpkin Girl loves onigiri, and when she saw that the grilled crispy rice balls with spicy soy served with special miso, she was very keen to try it.  Not overly crunchy, but enough for the soy and spicy chilli powder glaze to provide a good crisp surface over the rice.  This was nice and simple, as we all took chunks of the rice balls and mopped them up before consumption with the smoky miso sauce.

Crispy rice balls, $7

We ordered a serving of the housemade teppanyaki gyoza.  Our waitress was so accommodating, as this usually comes in a serving of six for $12, but as there are five of us dining today so she offered us the option of ten for our table which we immediately took up.  They have two types of gyoza available, one being the pork and vegetable and the other option was the chicken and prawn, they allow half and half servings so you don't have to make any sacrifices.  Both the pork and the chicken were lovely with their crisp bottoms and juicy meaty filling, but I'm a pork dumpling girl so they won out by an inch.

Gyoza, $20

From the special menu we ordered the thick inside-out sushi roll of cured salmon and edamame.  It was a combination I had never seen before, and I am so glad we ordered this, it was divine.  The cured salmon melted in your mouth and the sushi rice was the perfect balance of sticky vinegar rice fluffiness.  The crispy savoury whisps were the perfect topping for these rolls.  The edamame gave each piece a slight bite and buttery texture.  The sushi was definitely one of my highlights that night, if not the highlight as I'd love to go back for some more soon. 

Double salmon sushi roll, $18

I truly fell in love with the these wonderful housemade Japanese style croquettes with minced beef on my first visit many years ago.  It got to the point that I couldn't get them out of my head, and I had to find a similar recipe to curb my cravings.  It's hard to resist a lovely potato croquette with some beef mince for extra flavour and wonderfully crunchy panko breadcrumbs to finish.

Korokke, $4 each

One of my favourite Japanese dishes has to be okonomiyaki, and a good one is very hard to find in Sydney.  The selection available here always brings an excited smiled on my face, when we actually get to choose which one we are going to try this time.  We settled on the Jugemu special this time of pork belly, prawn, calamari and scallops topped with a sprinkling of shallots.  I love the okonomiyaki here because even though it's got a soft pancake consistency, it still maintains it's moisture with the lovely fillings and lashings of oknomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise.  However, Cheesecake Boy begs to differ and says it's too doughy for him, and he'd rather it be cooked through completely, but I think that would make it way too dry.  Okonomiyaki is one of those things that Cheesecake Boy and I have decided to agree to disagree on.

Jugemu special, $22

Cheesecake Boy and I are always in a rapturous state when we eat the wonderful handmade soba noodles here.  The nabe yaki soba was a hot pot of chicken, egg, vegetables, seaweed, broth and soba with side of one tempura prawn.  It was a lovely dish that didn't need any fussing over, and was very comforting that chilly night.

Nabe yaki soba, $20

I actually wanted the soba chips, but the words 'bird nest' of the bird nest sugomori soba intrigued me, and won me over.  It consisted of crispy bird nest net of deep fried soba noodles with prawns, chicken and Japanese mushrooms in a thick gravy like sauce.  The delicately flavoured sauce had lovely thickness to it that clung to the fried soba, this play of textures of both soft and crispy soba was additively moreish.

Bird nest sugomori soba, $18

Now, I would of loved to have taken a proper photo of the tori and kinoko seiro soba that was presented to us on a wooden tray, but with all the food coming all at once we had to ditch the tray and place the plate of cold soba, the bowl of warm chicken and Japanese mushroom dipping broth and the side of radish clumsily on our very overcrowded table.

Tori & kinoko seiro soba, $20

This dish really is all about the beautiful grainy handmade quality of the cold soba noodles.  The lovely warm tender chicken and Japanese mushroom dipping broth that was so rich in shitake mushrooms in particular, almost outshines the glorious soba noodles.  The side of ground radish, allows you to adjust the depth of the dipping broth.  Consumed by itself the dipping broth was slightly too rich and salty, but by merely coating the soba noodles in the broth, it was a perfectly harmonious combination.

Close up of warm chicken and Japanese mushroom dipping broth

I don't usually order assorted tempura, but my brother DS Boy wanted some and I was pleasantly surprised.  I generally find a lot of tempura dishes can be quite heavy, but this is how tempura should be, delicately crispy and light and you don't feel like it's sitting in your stomach.  The assorted tempura had three prawns and the seasonal vegetables consisted of lotus root, pumpkin, mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini.

Assorted tempura, $20

Now I know it is very unlike Cheesecake Boy and I not to indulge in a dessert when we dine out. However, when we heard that little Cupcake Sister had baked an incredible lemon cake, so we just had to dash off to try a piece. 

Anyway, our final words on Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi is that it hasn't disappointed us yet.  I can definitely say that my first soba experience here converted me to a soba kind of girl, and after this visit my love for soba is stronger than ever.  However, it's the unique dishes that are so hard to find in Sydney all in one spot that keeps us coming back for more, and why not when it's always consistently this blissfully good.

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi
246 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW 2089

Ph: (02) 9904 3011

Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi on Urbanspoon


Ramen Raff said...

The nabe yaki soba sounds great! I love nabes!

Been wanting to visit this place for ages!

gastronomous anonymous said...

its been such a long time since i went to jugemu shimbashi! i think a visit is in order! and i love soba!!!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

I love this place! And although I've sat on both sides of the restaurant, I've never actually been perched at the teppanyaki bar. I can honestly say that the soba here has turned me into a soba snob, and the okonomiyaki is definitely one of the best in Sydney!

john@heneedsfood said...

Frozen sake, yes please! Sounds great

Anonymous said...

frozen sake? interesting!

the food looks delicious!
mental note. must visit

L said...

Everything looks amazing! I love Japanese food so adding this to my long list of restaurants to try out.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Ramen Raff, definitely worthy of more than one visit in our books :)

Hey GA, it was ages between visits for us as well, but CB and I have decided to visit here more frequently, we love the soba here.

Hello mademoiselle délicieuse, I was offered the teppanyaki bar on one visit but I didn't want to get my clothes messy, lol. Will definitely do it next time. Agree the soba there is just wonderful, and has made me super picky now too.

Hi John, the frozen sake was really refreshing, would be so perfect in summer.

Hello excusemewaiter, the food really is lovely here and there is a lot of variety.

Hey L, definitely one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, just make sure to book :)

sugarpuffi said...

the bird nest soba looks fantastic! i want to give it a try

JasmyneTea said...

I've wanted to try onigiri for AGES (seen it so many times in anime!), and I have yet to try soba as well. Love your photos :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Sugarpuffi, it was a special so I don't know if it's available all the time, but it was really good.

Hello JasmyneTea, lol like Serena in Sailor Moon, that's more than a good reason to give them a go. Definitely go for the soba, as I had to go back last night and get a fix. Thanks, but credit should mainly be given to Cheesecake Boy for the photos for this post, as I was too busy eating that day :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh I miss living on the North Shore! And did you know that Bill Granger likes eating there? :) I didn't see him when I went though :P

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Lorraine, lol never seen Bill Granger on any of my visits either. Will ask the friendly staff next time we drop in :)

rockahenry said...

you cant beat a pork dumpling thats for sure!

i had this really awesome one at tokyo disney sea a couple of years ago it was called a gyoza bun... gyoza filling inside chinese bun type bread in the shape of a giant gyoza.... sooo good!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello rockahenry, no you can't :) I'll be sure to check out the wonderful sounding gyoza bun if I ever head to Japan.