What’s on the menu at Neon Tiger, OddSeoul’s new sister spot in the Annex

What’s on the menu at Neon Tiger, OddSeoul’s new sister spot in the Annex

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Name: Neon Tiger
Contact: 14 Dupont St., neontiger.ca, @neontigerto
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Previously: Playa Cabana Hacienda
Owner: Naveen Chakravarti
Chef: Wesley Hains
Seating: 90 indoors, 110 outdoors (seasonally)
Accessibility: Not accessible

The food

Influences from Malaysian, Indian, Korean and Hakka cuisine underpin a vibrant menu that shares some of its genes—namely those behind squash poutine, bulgogi cheesesteak and jap chae—with sister snack bar OddSeoul. There’s a solid selection of snackables and shareables: think prawn tacos with a Thai remoulade, chili soy chicken wings and a siu mai dog so good it should come with some kind of warning label. A few substantial main dishes make this a suitable dinner spot, too. The duck fried rice, topped with seven ounces of perfectly mid-rare duck breast, is an indulgent knockout.

This is the KFC blini. Chicken thighs—marinated in coconut cream, soy and rice vinegar—are coated in a sweet, spicy gochujang sauce and served on a pancake of coconut milk and pickled red onion. $14.


Here we have the Hakka ginger mushroom salad, which was inspired by crispy ginger beef. OddSeoul had a version of this with rice as the base. Here, it’s mixed greens that wilt just enough on contact with the hot, ginger-soy glazed, deep-fried mushrooms. It’s all topped with julienned carrots, ginger and scallions. $13.


Cauliflower, purple potato and onion hanging out in a blend of North Indian spices. These are destined for the curried veg tacos.


These guys here are on their way to Taco Town, too.


The prawn tacos ($17) are in the foreground: tender fried shrimp are topped with a Thai-inspired remoulade (mayonnaise blended with pickled red onions and a house Thai curry paste). It’s all topped with dry-pickled iceberg lettuce and radishes—dry-pickling, which is the standard at this restaurant, adds flavour without drastically changing a vegetable’s texture. In the middle row we have the curried veg tacos ($12) filled with North Indian-spiced cauliflower, purple potato and onion tempered with cooling raita. And in the back, we have the gochuchang-spiced KFC blinis again ($14).


This wildly flavourful house-made pork belly and shrimp sausage is accented by green onions, crispy shallots, red pepper chutney and a cabbage slaw dressed with puréed kimchi (so, the best of both worlds—you get the crunch of fresh cabbage with a hit of kimchi flavour). $13.


The duck fried rice is a standout dish. A sunny-side-up egg and slices of perfectly cooked duck breast are served over rice fried in duck fat—each grain wears its own crispy coat. $28.


The seven-ounce red snapper is pan seared to crispy-skinned perfection, but the pool of sauce it sits in contends for star of the show: the fusion curry marries the warmth of an Indian curry with the piquant freshness of a Thai one. It’s finished with gai lan and red cabbage, then topped with pickled onions. $32.


Left to right: owner Naveen Chakravarti, chef Wesley Hains, chef de cuisine Vishal Raj.
The drinks

A bevy of house-made syrups and infusions, like lotus-infused vodka and sesame seed syrup, give this playful cocktail menu its edge. It’s mostly Pan-Asian riffs on classics and some familiar favourites from OddSeoul, like the bourbon-heavy Seoul Sour. There’s a tight beer menu (Tsingtao, Sapporo, Asahi, Tiger) and a wine list that focuses on organic bottles and full-bodied reds.

A sesame-based “K-orgeat” syrup—a riff on orgeat syrup, typically made with almonds and rose or orange flower water—lends creamy, herbal tones to the Seoul Sour’s heady bourbon base. $15.


Lotus-infused vodka is the foundation of the White Lotus, which gets its rosy hue from goji syrup. It’s balanced with Triple Sec and lemon, topped with foamed egg whites, and best served in a haze of bass and neon. $15.


The Gat Fire, a riff on a brown derby, subs in honey-ginger syrup infused with fiery scotch bonnets for the usual honey. Also: bourbon and grapefruit juice. $15.


The space

With gleaming neon lights, lots of restored vintage signage and the persistent thrum of bass, this place is well-engineered for a rollicking night out. The higher you climb in the three-storey space, the more intimate the feel: the third floor, which seats 22 and currently doubles as a private event space, will be a hybrid dining/karaoke area by next spring.