The blurb for the new lunch menu reads, “After experimenting with more than 86 species in 19 months…” They got me at “species.” When I visit RWS’s S.E.A. Aquarium, I get so hungry: so many species of seafood swimming around. I wish Naked Finn got me to taste-test the species for them. I love how their menu lists the scientific nomenclature of species. Nerds united!
Huccalyly was excited for a totally different reason. “Hey! We are eating seafood; seafood is zero calories, right?” One of us got her priority right, and damn! that’s why I’m fat.
The simple lunch menu has only 5 mains, and we ordered 4. The unanimous favorite, lobster roll ($29), was 90g of Maine lobster meat stuffed in a bun (supplied by an old school bakery), toasted to bring out the fragrance. The lobster was served Connecticut-style (warm), instead of the usual soaking of lobster in cold water. Homemade mayo was applied directly on the bun, instead of mixing with lobster. As a result, the bun and lobster interacted to give two types of natural sweetness, and a texture that was creamy, pillowy, and crunchy. Umami!
One more thing: Naked Finn seems more honest than other lobster shops. Unlike other lobster shops that claim their lobsters are 500g each (yielding about 100g of meat) and charge $45+, Naked Finn says their meat is 90g (from live, not frozen, lobsters) and costs $29.
Our second favorite, angmohized hae mee tng ($25), came with a bright, robust prawn soup. (We licked every drop.) The spot prawn is stir-fried with dried sakura shrimp in olive oil, and then added to pork stock to simmer for 7 hours, without sugar and MSG. The Japanese somen was soggy, which is how I think Asian style noodles should be, none of the al dente nonsense. Wild-caught green tiger prawns, each 40g, were deliciously bouncy but the Kurobuta pork belly was just so-so. It also came with a condiment, Iberico pork lard in olive oil, and although it did nothing to the already-perfect dish, fancy pork lard was always welcome.
The other two mains did not fare as well. The fish and chips ($25) used line-caught lingcod in a vodka-beer-honey batter, deep-fried in olive oil. Bland for us. Huccalyly said, “The reason why this is the most requested dish at Naked Finn is because Singaporeans are boring.” The ladies liked the bite of secreto Iberico pork ($18); “secreto” is a cut of flap connecting the ribs. But tough for me; I, boh-gay. For both dishes, the sides, chips and a tangy, limey, pick-me-up chilled vermicelli respectively, outshone the mains. Pinky Piggu quipped, “It should be called chips and fish.”
Sides: The grilled baby Indian squid ($8) was simply seasoned with sea salt and olive oil, but what a delight. Smoky, but still nicely chewy. Now I want to eat the other species, angmoh, Chinese, and Malay squids. I’m an equal opportunity eater.
Desserts: Choose chendol ($13) over overpriced ice cream in Guinness ($20). Chendol consisted coconut sorbet, gula melaka, and frozen pandan: the aroma of the coconut arrived after the initial taste of mild sweetness. Refreshing.
There are many endearing things about Naked Finn. The setup resembles a makeshift shack with plastic covers, cosy but may get hot in the afternoon. The service was top-notch. The chio and friendly female server (boss?) could answer enthusiastically and patiently all the difficult food questions we put forth to her.
But what I liked most about the restaurant was how the food defies categorization by using global ingredients yet has a very local taste of nostalgia. Is it angmoh food? Singaporean? I didn’t care, I seafood, I eat food. It was sincere, familiar food made by people–I’m guessing, Singaporeans–with passion, and it was delicious. Now I’m considering to return for their exorbitant dinner. Judging from their lunch, the price may be worth it. We paid $162 for three persons, or $54 for one. (We over-ordered, but if you only order a main each, you can get away with $20-$30 per person for lunch.)
Tip: Make reservations. It’s a small place, and people who queued were turned away.
Tip for drivers: You may park along the road outside the shack. Other customers did that.
41 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109454
T: +65 6694 0807 (Reservations, call between 2-6pm)
Lunch: M-F 12-2pm
Brunch: Sat 12-3pm
Dinner: M-Th 6-10pm, F & Sat 6-10.15pm.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.