Cocktail genius Ken Loon (formerly of klee) emerges onto the public eye again, this time with a concept that’s hopefully here to stay. Shying away from the consumer eye since his former cocktail bar’s closure – save for that one Naked Finn pop-up at the now defunct A Curious Tepee – the man has been applying his smarts in concocting cocktails via consultancy work, with unique mixed drinks made with the teams at the Lo & Behold bars like Loof and OverEasy.
As Loon himself will admit, the opening of The Naked Finn has been a long time coming. The initial idea was to open an F&B concept almost three years ago to complement the drinks at klee, sticking to the same ethos of using fresh, quality ingredients to derive a good product. However, it wasn’t meant to be at the time due to issues with their then landlord, and it wasn’t until the revitalisation of the Gillman Barracks that they found a suitable space. Now set in the new art outpost and surrounded by galleries on Malan Road, the restaurant has – after two and a half years – moved to a 60-seater room down the road.
There’s one page of food options on the menu (all seafood, save for two sides of veggies), which is cooked with minimal ingredients. Orders are taken and paid for upfront at a counter next to the bar. Each table gets unlimited servings of addictive pan-fried bee hoon with garlic slices and chives, which the server tells us is the Naked Finn’s equivalent of bread served at Western restaurants. We’d be happy to have just that, but of course, it’s polite to still order something. We recommend the razor clams drizzled with hot shallot oil ($12 per piece) – the crunchy charred shallots provided a great textural contrast to the perfectly tender clam meat. Also try the baby squids ($8), which were cooked to perfection – grilled simply with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil – offering a robust yet tender bite, though we could do without the plasticky pen that was left in some of the squids.
The star of the meal has to be the Atlantic diver scallops ($15). Served with the orange roe still attached, the prized mollusc is grilled and fried with shallot oil, and like all the other seafood on the menu, freshness and quality are of utmost importance. The restaurant claims to only purchase the ones hand-picked from the sea, then vacuum pack deliveries immediately to ensure freshness. To avoid disappointment, call ahead to ensure its availability – the scallops sell out fast, and The Naked Finn’s menu is mercurial.
The name of the game here is experimentation: Loon and his team tweak the menu weekly, factoring the seasonality of seafood and feedback from diners about what works and what doesn’t. Regarding the drinks – we don’t recommend driving to the place, mind – Loon’s expertise in cocktailmaking really shines with well-balanced yet potent hits like the orange, pink guava drink, finished with Cointreau and Kronenbourg Blanc ($18), as well as the calamansi- and sour plum-infused syrup with vodka ($18) and tasty mango, orange and rum ($18).
We’re also told that a Kyoho grape cocktail, and the coconut and rum combo ($16) – a rich Asian-flavoured tipple that uses the water, meat and milk of a coconut – are best sellers, as evidenced by the fact that they weren’t available on our visit.
Overall, we feel a little reluctant to spread word about The Naked Finn – its prices are incredibly reasonable, and more importantly, the near-perfect execution of the food on our visit to the restaurant just 11 days after its opening means they’ve hit the ground running, and fast. Here’s to us fighting you to get a place in line for a seat here.
|Venue name:||The Naked Finn||Contact:|
39 Malan Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 6-10pm.|