As a Japanese person, I love Japanese cuisine the most! I think most of us love our own country’s cooking the best, don’t you agree? Unfortunately, Japanese cooking is probably the hardest to eat as a vegan due to the use of dashi. Dashi is a Japanese stock made from bonito fish and is used in a lot of Japanese cooking (think soups, dipping sauces, stews, and noodle dishes). So when I started to eat plant-based, I sadly had to stop visiting Japanese restaurants.
However, I discovered that Shimbashi Japanese Restaurant in Neutral Bay offers a vegan dashi option, which is fabulous! I went there with my vegan Japanese assistant to celebrate her birthday. She, like me, also hasn’t been able to visit any Japanese restaurants since she became vegan, so I was glad we decided to visit.
When we came inside and sat down, we noticed the restaurant tables were Horigotatsu. Horigotatsu is a traditional type of Japanese table that is lower to the ground, but has a hollowed-out floor underneath the table so that you can stretch your legs underneath! These tables made us feel like we were in Japan, which made us super happy.
Traditional Horigotatsu tables – made us feel like we were in Japan!
Shimbashi already existed when I came to Sydney on a working holiday which was over 20 years ago. I had visited the restaurant several times when I wasn’t eating plant-based, and I am so glad that I can still go back there now for vegan Japanese soba!
Shimbashi is famous for their freshly made soba, which is Japanese buckwheat noodles. Soba is an excellent noodle option as it is high in fibre and protein. Shimbashi makes their noodles fresh and in-house, twice a day! How fabulous.
For our entrée, there were minimal items that we could order – to be honest; we weren’t that interested in ordering edamame, so we ordered the soba chips, which were delicious!
Soba chips – traditional crispy fried buckwheat noodles.
We wanted to order nasu dengaku (miso-glazed eggplant). Unfortunately, that was from Jugemu’s menu (Shimbashi’s teppanyaki restaurant that was on the other side of the store), and they were closed on that day.
We were able to order both hot and cold soba. Please note that I inquired about cold vegan dipping sauce in advance, so they were able to make it special for us! Make sure to ask if you want to order a cold soba noodle dish, like oroshi soba (cold soba with grated daikon radish) or zaru soba (cold soba with dipping sauce).
My assistant, Maya, ordered tenzaru, which is assorted veggie tempura with zaru soba.
Tenzaru – cold soba noodles with veggie tempura
Tempura batter is typically made from egg, flour and water but Shimbashi makes a vegan, gluten-free tempura batter, which is made from buckwheat flour.
I ordered the tempura soba – hot soba noodle soup with tempura, which was delicious.
Tempura soba – hot soba noodle soup with tempura
As I mentioned earlier, there is also a teppanyaki restaurant in the same building called Jugemu. If you are dining at Shimbashi, you can also order from their menu!
I heard that Jugemu are working on serving vegan okonomiyaki, which is a popular savoury Japanese pancake dish. I found this out because I asked the staff if it was possible to make vegan okonomiyaki (yes, I can be an annoying customer sometimes…). Hopefully, the day will come very soon – I would love to try it!
As someone with a big appetite, just the soba and the entrée we shared didn’t make me full. We thought about ordering another soba – we were thinking of ordering the oroshi soba (cold soba with grated daikon) to share, but we decided to go for a dessert instead. With the help of Happy Cow (a vegan website for discovering vegan-friendly restaurants), we found Acai Brothers, which was right across the road.
We ended up having their acai bowls as a dessert instead (I have never tried that before!), but it ended up being perfect. We simply treated acai bowl like a bowl of ice-cream.
Acai bowls for dessert – it was perfect for a hot day in Sydney.
I also discovered Acai brothers have vegan savoury menu items, like burgers and tacos. I am looking forward to trying them in the future!
We were super happy with how our day went – that we were able to enjoy a traditional Japanese meal in a vegan way, and a healthy, refreshing, and nourishing dessert. I would recommend Shimbashi for anyone after a vegan traditional Japanese meal in Sydney.
Jugemu Shimbashi Japanese Restaurant:
Address: 246 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, 2089.
Visit their website: https://www.jugemushimbashi.com.au
Address: 8/197 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, 2089.
Visit their website: https://acaibrothers.com
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