Showing posts with label scallion slaw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scallion slaw. Show all posts

CLOSED: Neon Tiger (Toronto)

Neon Tiger seemed to sneak up on me as I was walking down the dark Dupont Avenue, it’s glowing neon image a welcoming bat signal against the cold winter night. The eerily glow continued as I entered the restaurant and was led to our table on the second floor – the workers must have buns of steel scaling up and down the three flights during every shift.

Somehow, my typical glass of wine didn’t seem like the right drink of choice with Neon Tiger’s speakeasy vibes. Instead, I opted for the Vice City ($16) a creamy cold frothy cocktail made with pitu cachaca and coco Lopez cream tinged with blue curacao. It was a delicious sipping drink with just a hint of sweetness from the pineapple juice. Toronto’s snow was momentarily forgotten and replaced by the sea breeze of the tropics.  

Who would have thought I’d enjoy the spicy scallions and avocado slaw ($11) so much? The simple mixed green and vegetable salad was enhanced with a flavourful sweet and spicy sesame dressing, pickled chili, and crispy shallots. What a refreshing way to start the meal and a good palette cleanser for the heavier dishes as well.

We found the scallion slaw was much tastier than the Hakka ginger mushroom salad ($14), where the ginger soy glaze was too pungent and thick against the deep-fried mushrooms, which were great on their own. The dressing almost seemed like a very gingery hoisin and chili bean paste that overpowered all the fungi and vegetables. A lighter vinaigrette tossed with the mixed greens, carrots, and green onions, while leaving the fried mushrooms simply seasoned with salt would have worked better.

The jap chae ($14) is large enough that it can even work as a main for one person. While the sweet soy sauce was too liberally added, I liked the abundance of mushrooms, vegetables (bok choy, carrot, bell pepper), and seasoning (pickled chili and crispy shallots) that were evenly distributed amongst the glass noodles. The starch itself was cooked perfectly so there was a bit of bite to the noodles. A sprinkle of scallions or some other herb on top would have added that fresh element that would really round out the dish.

As we were working our way through the starters, we realize that Neon Tiger doesn’t provide any sharing utensils with each dish. Ultimately, they ended up giving us extra pairs of disposable chopsticks to use, which is environmentally wasteful considering they could just invest in some fork and spoons. My plea to restauranteurs and chefs: if you are going to serve a sharing menu, you need to invest in sharing utensils. It’s expected, even more so when we are in a COVID era.

The golden curry snapper ($33) was a strong dish with great flavours, the finely chopped gai lan and red cabbage adding a wonderful crunchy contrast against the curry rice. While the menu notes the dish uses steamed basmati, I found the starch almost had a creamy risotto-like consistency; although, I could have done without the hard bits that made its way into some bites. The dish could be improved if the fish were done less - I enjoyed the crispy skin but the flesh was too dry.

There’s not one thing I would change with the prawn tacos ($17), which were absolutely delicious made from crispy hot prawns, paired with a pickled iceberg lettuce & radish slaw, and creamy Thai remoulade. It all sat on a warm, soft, and chewy tortilla that almost reminded me of a thicker Peking duck wrapper. I could have devoured a whole order of these.

Even though Neon Tiger presents a speakeasy vibe, there was a hurried frantic pace to the dinner. Perhaps it’s due to the strict one-and-a-half hour seating limit, but the dishes come out way too quickly so we couldn’t enjoy each one fully - it seemed like we were always trying to make room for the other. I’d suggest ordering in two batches to avoid having everything arrive in such quick succession. 

There’s also no dessert menu to ensure you don’t loiter past the time limit, so you’ll have to make do with another cocktail if you’d like to finish with something sweet. All in all, the restaurant is best for a quick catch-up or if you were like me, for a brief period of respite against the outdoor elements. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 14 Dupont Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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