There’s a fine line between jovial customer service and customer service gone overboard. Noa Lounge sits dangerously at the border of too much customer service. Suffice to say I lost my appetite in the middle of the meal and I don’t know if that soiled my overall rating of Noa. Emotions do play an important part in signaling the brain for dopamine. And external factors can influence that.
One word to describe Noa: expensive. No reason for it to be so, serving meager portions for groups of 4-5 persons and unbalanced for 1-2 persons. You can easily spend $200 for 2 persons here. One pita costs $6, and don’t color it with zaatar spices. Yes, it was warm, but nothing out of the ordinary. You have to wonder why bloggers indulge and praise the overall experience. Perhaps its address being in Neil Road drove the prices to crazy amounts that a small dip of Hummus and Sardine costs $20 and a single skewer of Marrakesh Chicken Skewer at $34. You’ll find a bevy of reviews in Google Maps complaining about the small portion sizes and unreasonable prices. Noa is even worse than Burma Social IMO. It seems these mid range restaurants one up each other all the time by way of prices, coloring the menu with so much glamor but it all just feels same old same old shit. Remind me again why mid range restaurants survived in the blip? I should stick to my age old wisdom when it comes to restaurants these days: go high or go low. For the uninitiated, NY Times critic advises to eat in Michelin rated restaurants for special splurge days and cheap eats for an everyday meal.
Of course, I wanted to enjoy the meal. The chicken skewer was undoubtedly tender, juicy and flavorful. Its side of couscous is fresh and tangy — and I am one who doesn’t normally eat couscous — but loved it. The signature Noa Bomba meatballs ($16) which was stuffed with pork and beef and glazed with harissa and allioli wasn’t even noteworthy for me. The manager told me that their sister Spanish restaurant Olivia makes mushroom croquettes better. Maybe.
But again that customer service had just gone overboard, that I can’t, for the life of me, decide if Noa is even worth returning to.
I didn’t appreciate being told by the waitstaff that my face was too serious while eating. Am I suppose to grin like a joker while I take a bite? I’m not crazy. I also didn’t like being interrupted every single minute, notably by the manager who didn’t finish the conversation with a simple “excuse me” and walked out in the middle of our chat. Don’t interrupt your customers if you can’t make a graceful exit. Don’t interrupt customers if you are going to drop comments that are going to make them uncomfortable. I had no choice but to stop eating and grab all of my food for takeaway. Extra points to the chef for actually making me another order of skewer just because he felt uncomfortable the chicken had gone cold. Nothing against the chef. The food had all the makings of potential — but price and customer service drags it down.
Never mind that Noa employs one of the best bartenders in Singapore. I don’t give a damn.
Noa? Go with caution. Perhaps stick to mezzes and tipples. A quick pre-game before your main affair in Duxton Hill.