SINGAPORE - (THE NEW PAPER) One of the latest eating places in the Chinatown district seems to be drawing a boisterous crowd.
Neon Pigeon calls itself a modern izakaya (a place where Japanese businessmen go to have alcohol and food after work) and it felt like that.
It is open from 6pm and as the night unfolds, more and more people turn up and the noise level rises.
The vibe is jolly, the drink list is extensive (ask for their own brand of sake) and the people, especially the wait staff, are attractive.
Neon Pigeon is for flirting, not dating.
But if you are here only to eat, you are in luck. I found plenty to like from the vegetable and seafood dishes.
You can choose small plates (good for two) or large ones for sharing. Order lots of small plates and nibble through the night. Flirting is more fun when you are playing with food.
Because it is such a casual place, some of the servers do not seem to care too much about service. One swooped in and removed an empty plate from my table without asking.
But the atmosphere will make you more forgiving.
The chargrilled meatloaf ($17) left me confused. That is, I don't know if I like it or not. It is a full-flavoured but tiny dish.
When I returned, I found it so spicy that the balance was thrown off. But the sauteed onions were delicious and the chilli glaze worked.
SIMPLE BUT GOOD
This simple dish of chilled cucumber ($8 with crushed chili peanuts, nori and goma) turned out to be one of the most memorable at Neon Pigeon. It is refreshing and addictive.
Make sure you try the slow-cooked octopus ($18). I do not know which is more appealing, the mellow cauliflower sauce or the delicious, smoked octopus.
Another deceptively simple dish - crispy brussels sprouts ($12) - was delicious. It is sprinkled with mirin-glazed bacon bits and you eat this with a wasabi mayonnaise. Super enjoyable.
OILY AND SWEET BONE
The roasted bone marrow ($18) is disappointing. It has a strange blast of citrus and it was just too oily and rather sweet. It was more balanced when I returned unannounced, but there are other dishes to try here. Do not bother with this.
WHAT: Neon Pigeon
WHERE: 1, Keong Saik Street, #01-03
WHEN: Monday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight
Reservations available only for groups of eight and above
This article was first published on May 27, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.