Naked Finn has been on my to-try list for a while, since I first spotted them on social media about a year back. I couldn’t decide if they were European, Asian, Fusion, Mod Asian, Mod fusion…..although to me, it really didn’t matter as long as the food was good. It was evidently about seafood and that’s a not a bad start.
The decision to dine at Naked Finn for my birthday was made without much deliberation. I wanted a quiet location, a local brand and of course, like all birthday gifts, something I’ve desired for a while! We arrived earlier than our booking hour and were welcomed with big smiles. Off to a good start. The spacious restaurant was half full with families, couples, and groups of friends gathering on a late Saturday evening. The dining hall is quite spacious, with tables well spread out for comfort and privacy. Simple furnishings, no flashy lightings nor chichi upholstery. The ambience is casual, warm and unpretentious. Our eyes were quickly drawn to the beautiful live foliage adorning the wall which hides the kitchen. I emphasize live since I am not quite Miss Green Thumb. The green wall brings a piece of nature indoors and I can imagine how lush and beautiful it must be in the day when the sun shines in through the vast glass wall on the opposite sides.
Our server, Kathryn, was a chirpy breath of fresh air! She knows her job, from the food to the wines to how that green wall is maintained daily! She’s all smiles (yes, I could see that in her eyes even though she was masked), and visibly passionate about her job. Kathryn recommends a variety of dishes, accompanying each recommendation with precise descriptions on flavors, textures and cooking methods. We took in all her recommendations and here’s how it went.
Oysters– On the specials that evening, fresh oysters marinated in what seemed like a long list of condiments. How do you put so many things on a little shellfish, I thought to myself. Nevertheless, it had to be ordered and by golly, it was, an explosive flavor bomb in the mouth, BUT in a quiet sensual way! As you can witness on the image, the oyster is showered in a number of ingredients, which include fermented green mango, ginger flower, young ginger, kaffir lime olive oil and chamomile vinegar. It was luscious! Must order if they’re ever on the menu or specials!
Water Spinach Kang Kong– Wasn’t expecting this, especially in a western style restaurant. I was leaning more towards the Ice Plant Salad option. But Kathryn suggested the Kang Kong with a twinkle in her eyes and like voodoo, we succumbed! The fibrous greens are blanched, chilled and dressed in an amalgamation of calamansi juice, fried shallot oil, and topped generously with dried shrimps before serving. They sure pimped this beloved household vegetable, if I may say so! First, serving it stone cold, and without her BFF Sambal Belacan! One can almost hear’em local hawkers and Chinese grandmothers’ jaws drop in disbelief! Fortunayely, the cold greens arrived and the first mouthful was refreshing and flavorful. The tinge of lime and fragrant shallot oil lightly flavors the vegetables while the salty crunchy dried shrimps add texture and umami to the tender leaves. I’ve never been a big fan of spicy, overpowering sambal belacan anyway. So this is right up my alley! I may just start eating my Kang Kongs this way from now on!
Wild Caught Baby Indian Squid – The sea of curly tentacles and tiny squid bodies were simply grilled to a nice black char. No spice, no herbs, just the naturally sweet and salty taste from the crustacean and the sea it came from. At first bite, it tasted rather (too) plain… but the crisp bitterness from the char against the soft sweet squigginess of the meat somehow grows on you! And you just can’t put your fork down!
Piquant Rice Vermicelli Bee Hoon– The only carb dish you’ll find on the menu. The plain looking vermicelli noodles was served side by side with the Grilled Indian Squids. Kathryn suggested we pace the bee hoon so we could eat the rest of our food with it (like a true Asian…!). The humble rice sticks were blanched and tossed in a “special sauce” and served with a handful of Sakura ebi (Japanese dried shrimps). It sounds all too simple, and it was. But like good ole rice, the simplicity of the lightly flavored vermicelli worked perfectly with not only the succulent squids but the rest of the dishes which we have ordered as well. Having said that, it has such a lovely clean fragrance, it was really good on its own too! And with the added crunch from the Sakura Ebi shrimps, pacing the vermicelli took a bit of discipline!
Fried Fish– First of all, it’s not called Fried Fish. I just can’t remember what Kathryn said this fish was! Another recommendation from the specials that night, don’t matter what it’s name is, bring a screenshot with you and ask for it! This scaly, thorny smelt-like fish was one of my favorites of the evening! Fried to a light airy crisp, be prepared to load up on your calcium as you devour heads, tails, fins and bones together with the sweet soft flesh. I couldn’t detect any strong seasoning on the fish, if there was even any at all; but that sprinkle of salt flakes was quite all it needed to enhance the sweetness of the meat.
Japanese Abalone– We couldn’t decide between the Abalone and the Scallop so we had one of each for tasting. Between the two, the Abalone stood out way more. Upon further investigation, I learned that they were braised in a Kombu stock for 6 hours before finishing up on the hot cast iron grill. But that wasn’t the essence of it. It was the gonad emulsion (apparently a mix of egg yolk, grape seed oil and gonad, which translates to reproductive glands) that brought the abalone to the next level. The kombu bath and emulsion topping at Naked Finn’s kitchen has evidently achieved some magic! The tender abalone, while retaining it’s original oceanic flavor, exuded a toasty smokiness from the unique gonad concoction. The juices, little as they may be, roll in your mouth like a good cognac. It tastes exquisite!
Yesso Scallop– There was nothing wrong with the scallop. Salted and grilled with a mix of fried garlic and shallot oil.. nothing wrong with this fail proof recipe but unfortunately, as it was presented alongside each other, it paled miserably next to the abalone.
Secreto Ibérico Pork– Our final dish was the only carnivore item on the menu. I always look forward to a good piece of meat. And Ibérico is mostly infallible. Perhaps I was already full? Or the other dishes were simply too outstanding? The pork steak did not work out for me. I really liked the dried solefish garlic salt mix it was served with though, but regrettably it couldn’t salvage the rather chewy pork. Of course, if you like meat with a toothsome bite, this will fit the bill nicely!
We wrapped up the evening’s dinner with a refreshing homemade Coconut Sorbet (with a little birthday candle, no less!). It was served with not one but two delicious toppings; Sweet jack fruit and crunchy ruby chestnut pearls. And that, my friends, was a perfect end! I dug in so quick there wasn’t even time for a picture!!
I couldn’t have been more satisfied and pleased with my evening at The Naked Finn. Kudos to the chefs! Superb job! And a big shout-out to Kathryn, who’s done her job more than “well done”! Yes, I highly recommend Naked Finn and it would be most exciting to see what they will come up with next!
NAKED FINN @ Block 39 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks Singapore 109442 Phone +65 6694 0807
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post.