Neon, Camden Street.

by Catherine

Meeting my good pal Jill for a quick bite before a gig in Vicar Street on Bank Holiday Sunday (Beach House incidentally, amazing) was the perfect opportunity to try Neon, which I’ve been meaning to visit for a while to sample their “Asian street food.”

A bright, basic but stylish interior with a choice of long, central wooden bench tables or tables for 2 or 4 nearer the wall, leads up to the counter where four very friendly staff await your order. You pick up a menu, queue up and order, pay and take your slip and sit down until they bring your food to the table. While at the counter, you can look into the busy kitchen where the woks are bubbling away.

The menu, to eat in or take away, offers all the usual Asian suspects (I was hoping for Vietnamese which I frequently crave since leaving London, but it’s mostly Thai) and a blackboard shows the specials and meal deals.

There were three of us so we got to sample a good selection – Jill ordered veggie Pad Thai which tasted spot on and contained some nice-looking tofu cubes (I didn’t steal any). I went for Tom Yam Goong soup (5.50), hoping to banish my long-weekend fatigue/hangover with a kick of chili, and the special salad which was a selection of fresh veggies with cashew nuts & grilled chicken (6.50). Both were delicious and very authentic, loads of prawns in the soup (always a pet hate having to play ‘Hunt the Prawn’), and an equally plentiful supply of cashews and chicken in the salad. Yum.

Our third amigo had Chicken Massaman (10.95), which was as sinfully good a Massaman as I’ve tasted and came with a huge portion of brown rice.

We decided to save the boozing for later, so all had soft drinks, but there’s a selection of beers and wine for the less restrained.

I like that Neon has lots of nice touches such as the wooden boards the food comes on, the stack of bowls on each table, and of course the famous ‘free’ ice cream machine to turn out your DIY dessert in the form of a rather excellent ice-cream cone… cue “Ohmygod I’m so stuffed I couldn’t eat another grain of rice… Wait are those cones FREE?”

As an extra source of profit, we reckoned Neon could make a killing by buying up bags of fun-size Flakes to sell at a small cost to greedy punters like us who’d prefer to turn their cone into a good old Irish 99… but until then it’s BYOF* .

So, I loved this spot – fresh, tasty, cheap, a bit creative and great for a pre-Whelan’s or pub stop-off or lunch if you’re in the area. Totally suitable for solo dining also.

Nice one Neon!

*Bring Your Own Flake, of course.

Neon, 17 Camden Street, Dublin 2.

Photo credit: Neon’s website.