tanjong pagar date spots

The future is Nou: Chic Decor and provocative noods set the mood for hazy nights

At 45 Craig Road, a blast of salacious neon rains down on passers-by, dying them in a lusty crimson. To the side hangs a translucent sign, bare with a tousled weave of florid light tubes. On it, a vertical etching of “nou” greets the passers-by on the road, face first, whilst flanked by three words meant to succinctly elucidate what ensues upon entrance: “noodles & cocktails”.

nou singapore

Upon entering, a chic melange of textures jumps out — a rustic exposed wall, ruggedly and clay-like, a modish main bar counter, burnished and sleek, and a stained-glass tile grid sitting at the back of the space, where vague refractions of warm lights slip through.

Masterminded by the architects behind Foxtail and Juice Wine Bar, Nou is a spiritual approximation somewhere in between the two but introduces even more sophistication in mood design.

nou bar review

Though it’s more sophisticated, the venue retains the chic millennial-styled idiosyncracies and intimacy that made the previous two so endearing.

Like the two, it’s still dimly lit and lush with the cordial glow of stylish lamps and rustic wall-mounted lights that stain the ambience in a treacly, comforting amber, supplemented by a dose of svelte red accents in the furnishing.

nou craig road

Beyond the vibe, Nou also invites ambitious collaborators, formulating a much more fleshed-out food menu than either of the previous two establishments, owing to the direction of Chef Petrina Loh, a culinary rebel who founded and helms a genre-bending homegrown restaurant at Dempsey, Morsels.

The good noods

best bars tanjong pagar

As the sign explains, there exists emphases on two things, “noodles & cocktails” — the first part of which puts the spotlight on an Asian staple that’s criminally overlooked when crafting menus in more upscale bars and restaurants.

Devoted to noodles as a whole, Nou’s food menu enthrallingly collates influences from all over the continent, floating between the most time-honoured classics such as dan dan noodles and bodacious spins on regional favourites, such as the Duck Kut Teh Mee Sua ($26).

nou review

A good indulgence to start with is indubitably the Scallion Dan Dan Noodles ($16), with a glut of springy noodles earnestly dressed up with a medley of homemade congyu sauce, pickled jalapeno, and marinated egg.

Straightforwardly rich, its base is a robust umami that’s sharply accentuated by the aroma of scallions, while the prickly acidity of pickled jalapenos also helps to cut through the hefty base. A splash of fermented chilli is also on the cards if you enjoy your noods with a bit more tangy heat. 

nou menu

But the noods that stole the show? A lusty GG Poulet Chicken Thigh Mazemen ($23), enrobed in a creamy sauce, reminiscent of tan tan men — probably one of the best tan tan men in Singapore, comparable to Enishi’s incredible bowl.

As with all of Nou’s noodles, the springiness and textures of the noodles are never in question. Similarly, those slices of chicken thigh are succulent and juicy, but this a dish that’s entirely carried by the exuberantly nutty sauce that runs riot on the palate. Sounds deceptively simple but is executed superlatively.

best wanton mee singapore

Rounding it off is the Berkshire Pork Char Siew Wanton Mee ($25) which is another exceptional take on a classic noodle dish. That said, as remarkable as it is, S$25 for a bowl of wanton mee is sure to raise some eyebrows.

But if you look past that, you’ll find that every cog in Nou’s wanton mee machine is fastidiously fine-tuned. The noodles are, needless to say, pristinely spring. The wantons are plump with silky, delicate skin. The dark sauce is deeply luscious and impeccably balanced.

Making it all the more majestic is a crown of glistening char siew, sublime in char and blissfully succulent with a satisfying ratio of plush fatty parts — couldn’t get enough of it and I think a bigger portion would have made this a perfect dish.

The Side Pieces

nou singapore

Continuing with the story of hearty, unostentatious Chinese-inspired dishes is Nou’s Pidan Pork Mushroom Dumpling ($6).

As with the best Chinese dumplings, it’s silky smooth and imbued with the zing of umami chilli — very earnest, satisfying morsels that don’t require much expounding.

nou corned beef tongue spam

Although you’d expect the sides and appetisers to be locked in the same rhythm of elevating Asian staples in a less abstruse fashion, Nou does have some rather intriguing fusion ideas.

One very impressive novelty is the Corned Beef Tongue Spam ($18), served on an ornately vintage glass plate with mentaiko mayo, spring onion dill, and pickled red onions.

That delectable bounce of the beef tongue spam, its hearty flavours, and the contrast of pickles and dill? Hella addictive.

Renewed Classic sips

nou food menu

On the flip side, Nou’s other focus of “cocktails” is presented in simple classic spins, concocted with slightly more eclecticism and less of the intense focus that bosswoman Cheryl usually incorporates into her Mezcal-focused menu at Foxtail.

That’s not to say it’s dumbed down since many more obscure classics earned a cameo spot on the menu, compared to your usual Negronis and undemanding Martini alter egos.

best bars singapore

Imagine creative reinterpreting the dirty martini into a Martini-cum-Gibson concoction crafted using duck fat — because that’s exactly what Nou did on their cocktail menu.

The Duck-tini ($23) uses a green and grassy-tasting mezcal as the base to fat wash with duck fat and props it up with pickled onion and dill flower. All that results in an esoteric profile closer to a cold soup than a cocktail, spiked with a potent salinity while carrying a twinge of funk in its finish.

Unquestionably an acquired taste but also quite riveting, mixology-wise, as compared to the usual dirty martini riffs.

bars tanjong pagar

One less-seen classic that Nou riffs on is the Hanky Panky, cheekily rechristened as Frisky Business ($23). Departing from the original blueprint, it swops in Fernet Branca Menta to imbue a deeper minty whiff, while the inclusion of grapefruit and orange skews the profile towards more profound citrus overtones.

It’s the perfect kind of drink to sip on while letting the warm lights and mellow tunes envelop you.

best new bars singapore

And they will eventually swallow you — Nou’s vibes are immaculate. I’ve learnt not to question the gang’s choices and simply show up and get lost in the night. For elegant tipples, hearty noods, and chic ambience: the future is nou.

Make your reservations here.



  • Address: 45 Craig Rd, Singapore 089683
  • Hours: (Wed–Sun) 5pm to 12am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>