Neon Pigeon is a modern restaurant on Keong Saik Road in an area known for being trendy and a little bit hipster. The restaurant was full of expats when we went there and it was dark inside so we couldn’t see what we were eating. Nonetheless, we think the food would have been nicely presented and we would have tried to enjoy it had the service not been terribly invasive by waiters.
Flossy’s rating: 2/5
I had heard that Keong Saik Road was a young and happening place to visit in Singapore. So when someone recommended Neon Pigeon as a modern twist on Japanese cuisine it made sense that I had to go there with my mum.
The first thing we noticed when we entered was that the place was dimly lit. I believe the intention is to create a funky atmosphere but practically it made it hard for us to read the menu or take photos of our food. The host informed us when we sat down that we needed to be out within 2 hours, which would have been fine had the waiters not made it totally obvious they only cared about turning our table. The entire evening we felt the waiters were constantly on our back! We were asked 4-5 times if we were ready to order within 10 minutes of sitting down and they kept trying to clear our glasses and plates before we were finished with them. At one time, a waiter randomly walked up to our table whilst we were in the middle of eating and moved the plates for no apparent reason. The best way to sum up the service here is invasive and we could not relax and enjoy ourselves.
Most of the other customers were young expats and the restaurant was playing hip-hop and rap music rather loudly, much to my mum’s displeasure. It made it difficult for us to have a conversation. The tiny tables and dark painted walls probably didn’t help with the noise levels much but it seemed the majority of other customers enjoyed the tunes being played.
The menu for Neon Pigeon looked rather interesting like a Japanese tapas bar. Dishes are ordered as either small or large plates for sharing and they recommend between 7-8 small plates or 3-4 large plates per two people. There is a fair selection of seafood, meat and vegetarian options to choose from.
We started with the softshell crab in teriyaki and with pickled cucumber wrapped in a bao taco (steamed Chinese bread). I love softshell crab and rarely have the opportunity to eat it however this dish would have been better without the bao, which was too thick and doughy to be paired with the more delicate crab. The cucumber slivers were crunchy and tart to cut through the thick sauce.
The highlight of our meal was the scallops, which arrived next. The scallops were seared and served with a Japanese duqqa, red mizuna and shiso ponzu, which in short tasted like miso pureed potato. I liked that the scallops tasted meaty and fresh and were not overly bleached.
We ordered the miso roasted eggplant for our vegetable dish, which was a big disappointment. The dish was poorly executed and tasted like one big humus mush of various non-descript flavours. I could not detect any eggplant and would not have believed any was in there if there was not the odd piece of eggplant skin visible.
This was followed by miso buttered baby shrimp with grilled Hokkaido sweet corn and truffle. The dish was very soupy and difficult to share or eat with the chopsticks provided. I did not think the small shrimps worked well with the corn and I couldn’t detect any truffle flavouring.
We finished our meal with a small plate of Korean fried chicken served on a bed of cabbage. The chicken was definitely edible and the sprinkle of sesames with the sweet sticky sauce went together well. However the chicken was a little on the dry side and so a bit tough.
Despite the disappointing food I must admit that I really enjoyed my drink. I asked the waitress for a fruity mocktail without mango and the result was a tall glass of refreshing lemon and and lime.
I can see why Neon Pigeon is popular with young professional expats. The prices are expensive and the name is catchy. There is a very cool painting of some pigeon DJ’s across the back wall of the restaurant. You can also order a variety of alcoholic beverages such as carafes of whisky, champagne by the glass and some interesting sounding cocktails. However this is not the type of restaurant I like to visit. I prefer to eat good quality food that is value for money and found the dishes at Neon Pigeon to be rather ordinary and the flavours were unspectacular.
1 Keong Saik Road
Phone: +65 6222 3623