Monday, November 02, 2015

Had a Whale of a Time at Humpback

Bukit Pasoh has gotten more exciting with the opening of several new concepts including the small-plate seafood restaurant, Humpback. Named after the whale, Humpback is defined by " pure terroir food anchored by crisp oysters delivered from farm to table".

Oyster fans will have a smashing good time here with the fresh seasonal varieties sourced from some of the best spots like the Pacific Northwest, and brought in in small batches. During my visit, the moo-lluscs from different parts of Washington in the US were in season. After tasting the Kumamoto ($6 each), Shigoku Fat Bastard ($6 each) and Rocky Bay ($6 each), I have to profess my love for the small but sweet Kumamoto.

Enjoy a platter of oysters with a few cocktails in hand. Humpback offers 12 signature cocktails, all made with white spirits, to match its seafood dishes. My choice of Savoury Gin Tonic ($22) was spot on with the oysters, offering a refreshing wave of botanicals, rosemary, olive brine and bubbles that caressed the palate. After all, with the folks of Jigger & Pony behind Humpback, the cocktails are decidedly serious without being stuffy.

Having said that, feel free to request for a non-white-spirit-based cocktail if you prefer or order up a glass of wine or craft beer. One of their house pour white, Picpoul ($16), a lesser known variety from France, is a good complement to seafood dishes with its clean finish, zesty notes and lively acidity. 

For starters, order up the Clam Dip ($10). Use the Ritz crackers to unearth the de-shelled clams hiding under the paprika dusted cream cheese dip. It was fun to eat, moreish and, I reckon, also dangerous if consumed in front of the TV. Moohehe.

The Carrots ($8) served with yoghurt and cumin salt made for a healthy nibble and would please the Bugs Bunny amongst us. By the way, there is a gin-based cocktail named Bugs Bunny on the menu here! No prize for guessing what is one of its ingredients.

Mooving on to moore veggies, don't brush these off as mere weak sides. Group Executive Chef Polo Seah has done a moovellous job with the greens, injecting creativity and mooch thought.

The Kale ($14) was a winner with its multi-faceted contrasts of slightly bitter leaves against the sweet pears, the sharpness of black pepper against the creamy buttermilk dressing and nutty pecans, and oh that crispy touch of toasted kale chips among the lushness. Shh... My fellow cows would be jealous. Moohehe.

Probably my favourite dish of the evening was this stunning Cabbage ($10). Spotting a bit of crunch and some char from being grilled, the cabbage dish cleverly incorporated herb cheese, chilli oil and toasted quinoa. It all came together beautifully with a varied sense of flavours and textures. Absolutely scrumptious! #ThisKoLayCaiRocks

I don't think I've been this impressed with vegetable dishes. Ever.

Being in a seafood restaurant, don't miss out on Humpback's seafood dishes. The Rainbow Trout ($16) was a delight with perfectly silky, sous-vide trout complemented by a rich egg yolk and almond milk sauce, and punctuated with the tang of pickled mustard seeds. The fried Calamari ($14) seemed popular too and was gone by the time the bowl made its round around the table.

One of the moore pricey items on the menu, the Cod ($20) spotted a well pan-fried surface and moist flesh. Served with leek, chestnut and vinaigrette, it made for a simple yet delicious plate.

Other dishes we tried included the Hamachi Ceviche ($22), which had a refreshing hit of yuzu; the nicely seared Pork Collar ($16) with a dependable orange glaze; and the grain fed 120 days Beef Short Rib ($23).

If there is only space for ONE dessert (ok ladies, I do get the death stares), make it the Fernet Panna Cotta ($8). Shaped like an iPhone, this panna cotta was spiked with Fernet Branca which gave it a herbal, almost grass jelly-ish flavour. The classic pairing of orange and bitter chocolate rounded up the flavour combination for an unusual yet familiar touch.

Overall, Humpback is a cosy laid-back place for a fun night out with delicious cocktails, oysters and pretty good food. The dishes are smart and understatedly polished. To label Humpback's cuisine as "pub grub" would be a sin, which could only be washed away by the frigid oyster-filled waters of Hama Hama in the Pacific Northwest, which inspired the conceptualisation of this Seattle-style establishment.  

Thank you Humpback and FoodNews PR for having me over.

20 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: 6750 4461
Opens: 5pm to 12 midnight, Monday to Saturday
Closed: Sunday

Chew On This: Delve into Happy Hour from 5pm to 7pm with oysters ($2 to $3 each), $19 cocktails and $14 glasses of wine! Moo hic hic.

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