So many restaurants in Singapore are about reliving epiphanic dining experiences from overseas, and Humpback is no different.
As the lore goes, Indra Kantono and Gan Guoyi (of Jigger & Pony and Sugarhall) shucked and slurped down fresh oysters at the Hama Hama oyster farm in Washington, which converted Kantono into a man barmy for bivalves. A pearl of an idea grew, and now, they’ve set up seafood joint Humpback.
Diners hoping to get elbows deep in orange shells better look elsewhere. Unlike messy Louisiana boils, Humpback references seaside shacks, with maritime pastels, wood-topped high tables and bar seating, and white-tiled walls. Yes, sharing plates are the norm here, but you’re more likely to lift carefully stacked elements onto your plate than crack off limbs.
Ask for a recommendation and the exuberant staff are likely to chorus, ‘The vegetables!’ Indeed, the fried crisps of kale, walnut chunks and pear slices bathed in a tangy buttermilk sauce ($15), and the lobe of spicy-cheesy cabbage leaves sprinkled with crunchy quinoa ($13) are expertly composed.
These and the fall-apart tender Iberico pork ($28) belie the restaurant’s seafood leanings. Deep fried calamari rings with fork- smashed potatoes and fried capers ($17) are over-dusted with paprika. Good thing, though, that the briny hunks of rainbow trout ($17) that are tempered with mustard seeds, almond milk and streaks of egg yolk fare better.
And then there are the oysters. The shells from Hama Hama are flown in within 36hrs just for Humpback. Make a party of it at $3 a shell during happy hour (5-8pm) – otherwise, it’s $7 a pop for the Hama Hama, crisp and bright Blue Pool, mild Fat Bastard, and Kennedy Creek oysters. Wash it down with a basil and cucumber gin tonic ($20) or the signature lobster bloody mary ($20), mixed here by ex- Sugarhall barman Long Yishu.
You can’t knock the reasonable prices, the banter of the waiters, the sing-a-long ’90s tunes, and great flavours and textures on the plates here. Sail on down.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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