Last Updated: December 28, 2020
True to any good old-fashioned superhero story arc, The Dandy Collection’s F&B brand Neon Pigeon lives on. It’s closure in July earlier this year after half a decade of service at Keong Saik forebode a return in the not-so-distant future.
Well, the future is now. Say hello to Neon Pigeon’s new home along Carpenter Street, just a little way down from LUMO. Much like its European neighbour, this new outlet features a restaurant-bar concept where socialising, drinking and eating all sit first on the agenda. A Neon Pigeon 2.0, if you will.
Helming the kitchen is Head Chef Paul Lim, formerly from Fat Prince, another one of The Dandy Collection’s brands. A glance at the revamped menu immediately tells me that the food, much like the vivid splashes of colour all around the restaurant, strives to stand out.
My visit on a Tuesday night begins with a bright-pink, neon-lit pigeon sign. A salient landmark which tells me I’m in the right place, I saunter in unaware of what lies within, shrouded in floor-to-ceiling tinted glass.
An immediate electricity fills the air, driven by the clamour of chitchat and the restaurant’s loud tunes. The fully packed space on a weekday is heartening to see, especially amidst a pandemic and leaves one in greater anticipation of the quality of food served.
A fresh addition to Neon Pigeon’s menu is the Raw Bar. Kumamoto Oysters (S$16 for two) are among one of its seasonal offerings, topped off by smoked dashi gelee, ponzu, and chilli. It’s a burst of saltiness that washes out the inside of your mouth—a super savoury morsel of goodness.
Perhaps my favourite of the night, the Tokyo Hummus (S$10) is a mainstay on the restaurant’s menu even before their move to Carpenter Street, and for good reason. Forget everything you thought you knew about hummus because this bowl defies all chickpea-related expectations and in my opinion, far surpasses them.
Edamame takes centre stage in a pleasantly creamy and unbelievably smooth paste, all beneath a layer of colourful furikake. It’s a clever combination and one that exudes levels of flavour unmatched in other hummus iterations I’ve tried.
Of course, the folks at Neon Pigeon can’t stop there—and why should they? Curry chips accompany the hummus in a supporting role that nearly steals the show. Airy, crunchy, and laced with a piquant curry flavour, there’s a touch of spice that makes it good enough on its own.
Smear on some of that light-green edamame hummus for an added oomph. Think avocado toasts, but bite-sized and much more delicious.
Charcoal-grilled Asparagus (S$15) is yet another winner at our table. There’s a gentle sweetness and earthiness from the black sesame that balances nicely with the bitter undertones of grilled vegetables. Puffed rice is a welcome addition that makes for a pleasing crunch.
Yes, it’s asparagus and broccoli, but this falls in my ‘guilty pleasure’ category. In my mind, a must-order and one that truly exemplifies the creativity of the chef.
If the seashell-esque ceramic bowl doesn’t catch your eye, Togorashi Monkfish (S$23) might just astound you in flavour. Perfectly cooked monkfish is firm to the bite and comes aggressively seasoned with an in-house gochujang sauce that pays homage to Chef Paul’s Korean heritage.
There’s a spice that dances around on your tongue, though it’s mellowed out slightly by the acidity of the tofu puree beneath. Heat still shines through in a playful tug on your senses that leaves one yearning for more. Consider me seduced.
Next, we have the Sweet Cornrice (S$16) that arrives impeccably dressed on a hot plate, runny yolk in the centre. Each grain of Bomba rice is wonderfully plump, immersed in a Hokkaido corn reduction that is creamy and dare I say, luxurious.
Grilled corn rests on top, served off the cob, and lends a subtle sweetness that permeates the entire dish. A savoury touch from the fried nori strips is much appreciated, though I do wish they were battered more thinly for a crisp finish. If the fish before was an orchestrated assault on my tastebuds, this one cups me in gentle warmth, not unlike a mother’s arms.
Dessert comes by way of a Yuzu Brulee (S$12) that is thoroughly refreshing and addictive. The brulee employs a citrusy tang that cuts cleanly through the rest of the meal. Pair it with the Yakult sorbet, and experience an added sourness that punches you in the back of your throat, but in a good way.
Miso granola is a lightly salted, crunchy addition that highlights the fragrance of oats amidst its surrounding bright and fruity notes. A fine way to end off the night, I finished this dessert bowl with ease and much pleasure.
Indeed, one thing clear from my time in Neon Pigeon is the courage behind each plate. Bold, unabashed flavours come through in every dish, and that reflects the vision behind its concept. Talking loudly over the energetic pulse of the restaurant’s playlist is a must, and that is perhaps the sort of fearlessness and comfort one must possess when dining here.
If you want the bottom line, definitely come here for an urban experience that is equal parts fun and delicious.
Expected Damage: S$30 – S$35 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
36 Carpenter Street, #01-01, Singapore
36 Carpenter Street, #01-01, Singapore