Neon just opened a week ago so I have given them time to breath before heading in to see what they’re up to as the Gold Coast’s newest Asian fusion restaurant. Except that’s where I was wrong – and you would too if you had read the media up to opening day.
I went in expecting it to be a restaurant of sorts – in the same vein as Chin Chin in Melbourne. But on the walk up to the front doors I saw people sitting around the outskirts of the restaurant on stools facing out through the windows and the main area where I was expecting tables and chairs to be – only white space. This was my mistake – Neon in Broadbeach is more a quick takeaway place that gives you the option to eat in – rather than a restaurant. If you’re looking for somehwere to whittle away the hours for lunch or dinner, I suggest you take a look at our brand new favourite restaurant….
There’s a team that is hand making all of the dumplings being sold and I give them kudos in trying to make everything as authentic as possible. The owner said that they’re starting the menu small but with sixteen options already I would suggest sticking with what you know.
We started things with the pork and womb pan-fried dumplings which came in a serve of six (8) made in the traditional style with an accompanying thick soy dipping sauce. These were great – nice and light with no excess oil pooling on the plate from the frying process.
I’m pretty sure this is the first place on the coast to bring the Bao to the people and it;s a good thing too – with three options of pork belly, roast duck and chicken karaage we decided to go with what we know and have had previously all over Melbourne – the pork belly cooked with five spice and soy, topped with crushed peanuts and coriander (10). The bao was well stuffed but at $5 a pop I think there is better value on the menu. But if you have a hankering for a boa now – you have a place to put on your list.
Rather than double up the boa situation I ordered a serve of chicken karaage – deep fried battered chicken with a dollop of mayo which I suggest you add some sriracha to to boost the spice levels. This dish was on point – the chicken was perfectly tender with a nice thin batter and no oiliness that you sometimes find in other establishments.
Loving a killer hit of heat, chilli and spice – especially after living in Kuala Lumpur and visiting Bangkok I went straight for the beef crying tiger – marinated Australian grain-fed rum steak served with a fragrant Thai dipping sauce. In previous experiences the crying that should be happening is the steady roll of sweat from the brow into your eyes and down the side of your face as the heat slowly creeps up and attacks you – stalking you just like a tiger. This did exactly that but my issue was the balance of the 4 S’s that you find in Thai food – salt, sweet, sour and spicy – weren’t all that apparent and the dish was too one dimensional for my taste, with spiciness overpowering anything else that might have been trying to come through.
Overall I think place is going to appeal to office workers ducking our for their lunch break and hipsters who aren’t inclined to pay a visit to the McDonalds next door after a day on the beach. The interior works to a degree but I think a bunch of menus on the tables would work better than one menu sticky-taped in front of the tills where people are all trying to get a look while causing a problem for those that have already decided and are ready to place their order.
This is a great place for people who are on the run but want a quick Thai or Japanese fusion fix that are in the area. There’s not too much competition in the area around the Oasis so they have pretty much got the crowd to themselves who are interested in that food. But after Oracle, just two streets away, slowly opening new venues that are willing to also take a gamble – I will drop in again when I’m back in town in 6 months to see how Neon are holding up.
Contact: Neon – Shop 33, 19 Niecon Plaza, Victoria Ave, Broadbeach. Ph. 07 5661 5171.