Popular for its Izakaya-styled sharing plates and innovative Japanese-inspired cocktails, Neon Pigeon launches a new menu this autumn. The new food offering comprises 10 items and showcases a modern and avant garde approach to classic Japanese dishes. Head Chef Justin Hammond collaborates with Chef de Cuisine Dennis Smit to draw on their combined experiences and personal favorites.
Chef Dennis says, “For this menu, I was heavily influenced by the dishes I tasted while outside of work. I wanted to take what I had experienced, and recreate it in Neon Pigeon’s style. Working with Chef Justin, we deeply considered how to elevate simple Japanese classics. Together we drew on our different culinary experiences to develop our interpretations of these dishes.” See below for his inspirations behind a few of the new dishes.
Wasabi Leaf Salad
Wasabi lettuce is a familiar ingredient to us, and we wanted to showcase it again for two reasons: it is an amazing product that is locally grown yet rarely used, and it is also our rendition on the classic Caesar salad.
We serve it with adzuki beans, pickled rakkyo onions to give the salad acidity and an added
dimension of texture, tossed in a fresh wasabi and carrot dressing to intensify that wasabi spice. The dish is then topped up with a deep fried poached egg for creaminess, and panko for
Roasted Tomahawk Steak
We wanted to offer a large format dinner item to accommodate tables with more guests.
Our immediate consideration was a Tomahawk steak, for the beauty in its cut – we present the
meat to guests before cooking it, which provides an element of awe, and great anticipation.
To showcase the Tomahawk steak’s simplicity, we pair it with a soft and smooth red miso butter, also brightened up by fresh lemon zest, and fresh herbs. As a side, crispy baguette slices allow guests to indulge in all the beautiful meat juices. Another side is our Crispy Wasabi Leaf Salad, accompanied by strips of candied bacon, and katsuobushi mayonnaise.
I was keen to explore the idea of a prawn dish, and we realized that we had offered a noodle
dish only once before. As ramen is a popular dish, we took our inspiration from it, and made
use of the comforting ramen oil that everyone is familiar with and loves.
At Neon Pigeon, we try to minimalize our wastage, so we made a shrimp oil from shrimp
shells and heads. This further amplifies the taste of prawns, and it is incorporated with the
buckwheat soba noodles, a cold soba sauce, Japanese mountain yam, freshly chopped obha
leaves, and finished with crunchy toasted buckwheat.
For the drinking crowd, I wanted to create a snack that is comforting and easy to eat, all while
sipping on one’s drink. Our Katsu Currywurst is our unique Japanese take on a German classic.
Grilled sausage is served with a katsu curry mayonnaise, crispy shallots, pickled jalapeno for
a zingy punch and chopped spring onions are added for freshness. As I really like the idea of
fermentation, we fermented a red cabbage in a Japanese style (called Namasu), for a tangy bite.
Bamboo Shoot Tempura
We were considering the simplicity of Japanese classic dishes, and we came up with this dish for its easy yet flavorful combination.
Bamboo shoot is breaded with a fresh Japanese breadcrumb (nama panko) to give a coarse
texture, and then mixed with cereal crumbs for a unique combination. Back in my home country, Holland, fries are eaten with mayonnaise, which was the direction I took this dish – combined with my love for fermentation, a black garlic mayonnaise seemed like the obvious choice. For freshness, fresh chives are added, and topped off with katsuobushi flakes.
Sea Bream Sashimi
From my recent visit to Melbourne, I had a similar fish dish, and this creation was borne out
of my desire to make it my own.
I cure the seabream in tamari shoyu, which gives the fish a firmer texture and a savory depth of taste. The fish is then brushed with a green yuzu koshu oil (a blend of fermented chili, flavored with yuzu), and adorned with a crisp green apple salad. We then add aonori and bits of tempura seaweed to boost the umami factor.