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Singapore Dining - The Naked Finn

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  • Singapore Dining - The Naked Finn

    A couple of weeks back, in early November, Mrs yflyer and I had dinner at The Naked Finn. Don’t worry…we were both fully clothed, and so was the chef (We think).

    The Naked Finn is located in the low rise buildings of the former Gillman Barracks, off Alexandra Road. It is not a new restaurant, having been open for several years, but they have recently moved to a different building within the same complex, and the bar (which serves amazing blended ice cocktails) is now separate from the restaurant, about a 50 meter walk away, in the original Naked Finn premises.

    This is one of those restaurants which defies classification. It is international, and innovative in concept and setting, but the food is very local, with Asian-inspired flavours, and at the same time very original. Ingredients are obsessively sourced and prepared with a focus on freshness and natural flavours. I don’t know of any other restaurant in Singapore quite like it.
    Last edited by yflyer; 22 November 2015, 11:11 AM.

  • #2
    We arrived in the early evening, when it was still bright, and we could admire the greenery and hills behind the complex. There is ample parking close by, and there is good MRT and bus connectivity as well, although it will be a 10 min walk from the MRT or bus stop to the restaurant.

    Very open and elegant seating in the restaurant, with a plant wall on one side.

    They have an a la carte menu comprising mainly seafood, but also meat and vegetable dishes, as well as several set menus.

    We decided on the set menu for 2.


    • #3
      This set menu did not start in conventional fashion.

      The first course was a very large helping of chilled kang kong.

      I thought this was a very daring way to start a meal, considering how your typical fine dining restaurant would begin with a tiny amuse bouche. Here was a heaping plate of low-brow kang kong…but as I said, this restaurant defies categorisation.

      And amazingly, this dish works as a first course. This is chilled kang kong, livened with kalamansi juice, and shallots and tiny dried shrimp.

      We probably ate more of the kang kong than we should at the start of the meal, but the style of service (shared plates placed in the middle) was that we were not required to finish the kang kong before the next course was placed on our table.

      The next course arrived with about half the kang kong still remaining. This was a good thing, since we continually munched on the kang kong in between the next few courses, as they were delivered at just the right pace, each course prepared a la minute and served at the perfect temperature (either cold or steaming hot right off the stove).
      Last edited by yflyer; 21 November 2015, 06:21 PM.


      • #4
        The next course was scallop carpaccio…raw slices of fresh giant sea scallop drizzled with lemon and olive oil. I say “fresh” but this term is probably redundant, because I will say up front that everything placed in front of us tasted ultra fresh…

        This was a heavenly dish, which went well with the glass of white which we ordered by the glass…

        Last edited by yflyer; 21 November 2015, 06:22 PM.


        • #5
          Next, we were given a square dish of condiments to go with the next few courses. These were traditional condiments such as sambal belachan and kecap manis. “If you need more of the condiments, let us know…” the cheerful and bubbly waitress informed us…

          A platter of grilled baby squid was next, still steaming hot. These were savoury and full of flavour…

          …and went well with the different sauces.

          I was beginning to understand the chef’s priorities here: simple preparation and presentation, but with the emphasis was wholly on freshness and natural flavours...the squid were delicious.
          Last edited by yflyer; 21 November 2015, 06:22 PM.


          • #6
            The next course was piquant vermicilli, chilled, tossed and topped with sakura ebi (tiny fried shrimp)…

            This was delicious, with just the right amount of texture in the vermicilli and crunch, and intense shrimp flavour, from the ebi…

            Next, wild-caught little neck clams, flambéed in white wine and drizzled with fish sauce and shallot olive oil. These tasted of the sea and Mrs yflyer and I could not stop gobbling these up one after the other.

            Last edited by yflyer; 22 November 2015, 11:13 AM.


            • #7
              The last two courses were the most substantial.

              First, pan fried locally farmed barramundi….

              The fillets of barramundi were pan fried to a perfect crispness on one side, but ultra tender on the other side, which had the taste and texture of steamed fish. I’ve seldom eaten fish fried so beautifully…I can’t imagine how skilled the staff in the kitchen were, who could be prepare a superficially simple dish – fried fish – to this level of perfection day in day out. Crisp on one side, super tender and moist on the other, with steam still rising out of the fish when I flipped it over…

              And last, a dish of grilled tiger prawns.

              Again simple presentation, just a plate of prawns, with salted egg yoke dip.

              But what freshness! The prawns came so hot they almost burnt my fingers when I picked them up. Tender and juicy prawns which could be eaten plain, or with the salted egg yoke dip, which is an inspired pairing.

              But before eating the flesh of the prawn, we pulled the heads off and sucked out the juices within. Heaven in one slurp (The Lipitor can come later…).

              An amazing way to end the set meal, and a very satisfying dinner overall, and one focused on simplicity and freshness, which only worked because of the amazing quality of ingredients and execution, and a great instinct for both Western and Asian spices and flavours.
              Last edited by yflyer; 22 November 2015, 11:15 AM.


              • #8
                There was no dessert as part of the set, but Mrs yflyer and I shared an ice cold chendol, as good as any we have had…

                It was already dark when we finished dinner…we took a stroll to the bar up the road, “Nekkid”, which is owned by the same management…

                It was still fairly early in the evening, and the crowds had not appeared yet…

                A very original list of cocktails…

                Mrs yflyer and I shared a fresh coconut and rum cocktail, one of their signature creations…one of the nicest cocktails I have had…with fresh coconut flavour and smooth blended ice…a very pleasant way to the evening.


                • #9
                  Overall impressions?

                  As mentioned, this place defies pigeon-holing into any category. The cuisine is original and quite inspired.

                  It does not have the fussiness or stuffiness of so called “fine dining” restaurants, yet many aspects of the cuisine are ultra-refined. And yet, it is the simplicity and casual, yet perfectly executed, way that the dishes are served that for me define this place, along with a very refined sense of what Asian and/or Western flavours will make a dish special.

                  Service is not ultra-formal, but is attentive and very warm and cheerful.

                  As I was tucking into the plate of grilled prawns, and sucking the juices out of the prawn heads, a thought crossed my mind: the last time I had great seafood, simply presented, was in Barcelona, at Passadis del Pep (More on that here). The Naked Finn and Passadis del Pep could not be more different as restaurants, but I did see a lot of similarity in terms of dining philosophy: the best possible seafood, simply prepared...

                  Apart from the wide ranging a la carte dinner menu, for lunch they do what is probably the best and most refined and obsessively prepared prawn mee served in a restaurant in Singapore, where the prawn stock recipe has been researched, refined, and reworked multiple times over the years.

                  A wonderful dinner in an outstanding restaurant. We will definitely be back, either for dinner, or for the prawn mee, which is only available for lunch. (I will post a pic of the prawn mee next time we are there.)

                  Thanks for reading!
                  Last edited by yflyer; 22 November 2015, 12:58 PM.