If you’re looking for good seafood in Singapore, the West is probably not the first place you’ll think of, being miles from the famous East Coast UDMC stretch. This is with the exception of my favourite KEK (they recently opened a new outlet) of course, which serves amazing crabs drenched in salted egg yolk sauce.
Naked Finn’s humble exterior does not hide away the fact that it’s making waves in pushing sustainable fishing. While the consumption of seafood in Singapore hasn’t reached phenomenal levels that requires remedial action, collectively, a little does go a long way. It more than helps that the restaurant packs in people not just because of its altruistic endeavours, but the endorsement of its culinary competency.
Local starters with fresh flavours
The wait staff are extremely professional, and really know their stuff. For a party of 3, they recommended the Set for 2 (a) at S$138, and add on other stuff that we like from their a la carte selection. They had a long list of daily specials comprising of the day’s catch, which is guaranteed to be fresh.
Starting with the appetizers, there was the crunchy Chilled Kang Kong tossed in tangy kalamansi and topped with savoury, crispy dried shrimp. We were apprehensive about the Piquant Rice Vermicelli because we saw the ginormous portion on the next table. It was generally an ok dish, and perhaps if they had reduced the portion of vermicelli, the sakura ebi might have flavoured the entire dish adequately.
The Pacific Sea Scallop Carpaccio was deliciously fresh (an adjective you’ll keep seeing), and cured in the acidic lemon juice. The sweetness of the scallops still permeated through, once you get past the initial tang of the lemon.
Coming back to the expertise of the wait staff, the introduction of their daily specials made decision-making a cinch. I’m quite a big fan of bivalves, with the strange exception of cockles and oysters, and I jumped at almost all the options given for the catch of the day. The Arctic Surf Clam was an extremely large “hum” that was steamed to preserve the freshest flavours and juices of the meaty clam. And no, it didn’t come overcooked. Tender and yet mildly springy to the bite, with a gentle sprinkle of fish sauce – the mineral flavours melded perfectly.
The smaller cousin to the Arctic Surf Clam was the NZ Littleneck which came prepared in the same exact manner, and I kinda regretted ordering it. Not that it wasn’t good, just that I’d have appreciated it done in other ways. The sides of kicap manis and sambal belacan did help a lot to boost the flavours of this already tasty dish.
Surfing and turfing around
We really liked the “Pulau Ubin” farmed barramundi for its crispy, yet light-tasting fish skin – you wouldn’t have thought good seafood in Singapore can be farmed from neighbouring islands. The chef also took great care not to overcook it, preserving a moist doneness that’s delicate in flavour. Lightly seasoned with sea salt and olive oil, again to allow the natural flavours to exude from the freshness, this main is definitely my favourite dish for the night.
The Secreto Iberico Pork was a tad too gamey for my liking. The meat was done well though, tender and lightly scorched with a toasty fragrance but again, too strong tasting for me. Although I know people who would totally dig the original Iberico ‘fragrance’ it presents.
The Naked Chendol came recommended by almost all the reviews I’ve read and it certainly did not disappoint with the creamy chendol ice cream and power-packed gula melaka. Extra points for it being homemade, where other restaurants typically take the easy way out to get ice cream vendors.
Quality of food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7/10
Naked Finn (Map)
Block 41 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks
Tel: +65 – 6694 0940
Hours: Mon to Thu 5pm – 12mn | Fri & Sat 5pm – 2am
Nearest station: Queenstown but you’ll need to grab a bus/taxi from there
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