Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shimbashi Soba & Sake bar

Shimbashi Soba & Sake Bar
17 Liverpool St
CBD
Phone: (03) 9654 6727

Open: Mon-Fri lunch + dinner; Sat dinner only 
BYO: No, but a very extensive sake and beer list with rotating specials

 Shimbashi Soba & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon

Tucked away in the confines of Liverpool Street you will find Shimbashi Soba & Sake bar, an oasis devoted to the grand noodle that is soba. You know they mean business when you witness the intimidating piece of machinery used each day to crush the finest Tasmianian buckwheat and churn out fresh soba noodles. If you happen to wander past early in the day you will see the master at action, see Laurens recap here.

The Equipment


Inside shimbashi is a pretty neat and tidy affair, with room for about ~30 people. Don't be intimidated by its smallish size though - lo and behold you can actually BOOK! Yes, book a restaurant, how novel.



The menu has a broad range of cold and hot small dishes, with all the staples. We ordered the agedashi tofu, cheerily adorned with grated daikon and dancing bonito flakes. It was good (I thought the tofu was a little on the firmer side).

Agedashi tofu ~$8


We also tried the tamagoyaki, a sweet-meets-savoury fluffy egg omelette served warm its own little pan. This was an absolute delight, and definitely not something I would typically order. Highly recommended.

Tamagoyaki ~$8

To compliment these tasty morsels I felt obliged to try some sake - and chose an interesting unfiltered variety: Nigori sake (Kizakura). I loved the milky colour and texture from the remaining rice, however I found it a little on the sweeter side so might be better suited with desserts.

Nigorizake $16 / 500mL

We also tried a Koshihikari Echigo beer - a style made from rice crops which didn't deviate too far from the usual Japanese beer styles except for some residual sugar. Worth a try if you haven't had it before.

Koshihikari Echigo Beer $15 / 500mL

Now to the main event. It was one of those days in the middle of a 30+degree swelter so I was craving the cooling comfort of a cold soba dish. The Totoro & Natto Soba ticked all the right boxes: chilled soba noodles bathed in a light soy broth with a sticky swarm of grated yam, natto, okra and two styles of seaweed. That lemony yellow in the middle is a raw quail egg. I loved the texture although some might find this a bit of a goo-fest. The soba were firm and chewy, and miles apart from the gluey supermarket noodles I am used to.

Totoro & Natto Soba $17


My tablemates went for the warm soba options. TA & Weazelby were fans of their Kamo Nanban Kinoko Soba - a warm dashi broth with sliced duck, enoki mushrooms and vegetables, although Weazleby was not as impressed with the duck meat being a little dry and overcooked.

Kamo Nanban Kinoko Soba $19

E Worm liked her tempura soba, served as a set with separate noodles in warm dashi, with sides of dipping sauce (tsuyu) and crispy tempura (inc. 2 prawns ^.^ )

Tempura Soba $18 (noodle set not pictured)
 


I was slightly regretful I didn't get a chance to order the simple cold soba set (seiro) to appreciate the quality of the soba, so I think I have a pretty good reason to return. I'm also jealous of KH's experience from a previous visit. The chef brought out the water the soba is cooked in (sobayu) which is drunk like a soup with the tsuyu. Very authentic! Shimbashi is most definitely getting added to my CBD Japanese hotlist, and if you are a soba fan then you are in for a treat.

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