As much as we hate pigeons, Neon Pigeon is helping to shave off our dislike of the feathered pest, one dish at a time. An inaugural venture by owners Rohit Roopchand, Michael Goodman, and Michael Macnab, this modern izakaya found its perch on Keong Saik road slightly over a month ago and dishes up Japanese-inspired plates that are perfect for sharing. While their doors haven't been open for long, word has clearly spread. When we dropped in on a Friday night, they were running a full house.
Foodwise, head chef Justin Hammond breaks all the rules of a traditional izakaya to present his creative mash-ups on the plate. Sticks of raw Japanese cucumber are paired with a crunchy riot of crushed chilli peanuts, seaweed, and sesame seeds. Briny, earthy, and slightly spicy, these garnishes play off well against the pristine flavours of the cucumber.
A smooth chicken liver mousse is topped with a layer of finely crumbed cereal for crunch. Yuzu marmalade, served on the side, adds a citrusy brightness to this dish.
Equally formidable is the roasted bone marrow where thick sections of bone are perfected roasted and topped with a sprinkling of furikake seasoning and shards of slightly bitter, earthy garlic.
Brussels sprouts, typically sidekicks on the menu, graduate to the main stage here. It's ever so slightly charred and tossed with chunks of mirin-glazed bacon. These delicious morsels pair perfectly with the accompanying Japanese mustard sauce. Hate brussel sprouts? This dish might very well change your mind.
Instead of salt and pepper, you'll find Neon Pigeon's piquant house-made togarashi spice blend and yuzu salt sitting on the table. They're great for adding little bursts of flavour to each dish but we hardly needed to reach for them.
We weren't particularly charmed by their cocktails, but given that the bar programme is still finding its feet, we'll give it some time to take flight. Thankfully, a selection of Japanese craft beer, sake, and whisky comes to the rescue. After all, izakaya food is designed for nibbling while drinking, so there's no excuse to lay off the alcohol.