15th September 2015
When I first heard about Humpback, I was doubtful, having experienced a couple of contemporary eateries that is less impressive than they sounded. However, Humpback was a pleasant surprise, and it is comparable to the creative, casual cuisine of Morsels or the old Pidgin Kitchen.
The story of the restaurant goes back to the owners’ memorable trip to an oyster farm in the Pacific Northwest, where they were so impressed by the experience of eating fresh oysters that they decided to share that experience through this oyster bar – small plates, Seattle style eatery at Bukit Pasoh. Humpback is part of the group that gave us Jigger & Pony, Sugarhall and The Flagship.
The Oysters ($6 – 7++ SGD each but can be $2 -3 each during Happy Hours) | The highlight!
Kumamoto – Peale, Washington, USA
Shigoku Fat Bastard – Samish Bay, Washington, USA
Totten Inlet - South Puget Sound, Washington, USA
I had the opportunity to sample all three kinds of oysters and I am glad to find that all three were rather distinct in textures and flavours. The Kumamoto, a favourite among beginners is sweet, juicy and chewy. The subsequent Shigoku Fat Bastard and Totten Inlet are increasingly more “creamy” and briny in taste. Totten Inlet has a more grainy texture.
Carrots ($8.00 ++) | Nice.
Yogurt, Cumin Salt
For a start, I had a crudité sort of dish, named Carrots but with a simple and effective twist: the addition of cumin that gives it a memorable spice flavour quite similar to the house spice dip of Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill and Sky Bar.
Roquefort Blue ($12.00 ++) | Excellent.
The crispy bread contrasts with the creamy, crumbly texture of the blue cheese and the savoury flavours of the blue cheese was well-balanced with the rich, thick and sweet honey. I normally do not enjoy blue cheese but this was delicious.
Clam Dip ($10.00++) | Decent.
Cream Cheese, Ritz Crackers
A dip version of the clam chowder. The dip is very thick and rich. However, it gets monotonous after a while due to the cream cheese, the addition of paprika and the saltiness from the Ritz crackers helps.
Kale ($14.00 ++) | Excellent.
Buttermilk, Pear, Kale Chips, Pecan Nuts
Kale is a trendy health food item. This dish is clearly for the healthy lifestyle people. What impresses me however the chef’s mastery of the ingredient is. In this dish, he utilizes the varying textures of kale as a fresh, leafy salad component and contrasts it with a crispy kale chips, it demonstrates both the versatility of the ingredient and the chef’s ability to see food in their elements. The addition of pear provides a crunchy, sweet fruity bite and pecan nuts gave it a nutty crunch. The result is an addictive kale dish.
Cabbage ($10.00++) | Great but unconvinced.
Herb Cheese, Crispy Quinoa, Chilli Oil.
This cabbage is really good, the texture’s just right and I liked the addition of chilli oil to the smoky, juicy, crunchy cabbage. My only problem? This dish seemed really overpriced.
Rainbow Trout ($16.00++) | Ho chiak. A Must Try.
Egg Yolk, Almond Milk, Pickled Mustard Seeds
Aesthetics is great but most importantly the taste and textures are very good as well. The meat was so succulent and delicate and went very well with the accompanying condiments. I can’t further describe how good this dish is. Tt is certainly one of my favourites at Humpback.
Prawns ($20.00++) | Okay lah.
Cerginola olives, Fernel , Smoked Paprika.
The prawns were just so-so.
Figs & Beetroot ($15.00++) | Excellent.
Ash cheese, Candy walnut, Burnt orange.
The combination of figs, beetroot, crunchy candied walnuts. sweet citrusy orange slices went very well.
Calamari ($14.00 ++) | Not bad.
Potato, Crazy Water, Fried Capers
“Crazy Water” caught our attention. It was the first time I saw this term used in the menu. The term, also known as acqua pazza refers to the broth used to poach white fish. In this case, it is a tomato based sauce to go with the calamari with crispy batter.
Fernet Panna Cotta ($8.00 ++) | meh.
Bitter Cocoa, Orange
There only two choices of desserts at Humpback, there is the safe Valrhona Chocolate Mousse and a more adventurous Fernet Panna Cotta. Despite its name, the Panna Cotta was kind of a disappointment as the preceding small plates have been great with a few creative combinations. The Fernet Panna Cotta however, loses that creativity and instead ended up as an alcoholic version of the panna cotta or a panna cotta version of the tiramisu with the combination of alcohol, cocoa etc. Furthermore, I am not a fan of the taste of fernet, the bitterness of the cocoa powder helped offset that a bit.
Valrhona Chocolate Mousse ($8.00++) | A classic done well.
Berries Compote, Fresh Cream.
It is a really good chocolate mousse, need no further description.
Humpback was a pleasant surprise and located just opposite my favourite bookshop, there is now a nice place to go for some small plates in the evenings. The ambience is really nice and even the music was specially curated for the restaurant to give it a nice laidback vibe. If you are into cocktails, the bar does customized cocktails as well. Essentially, the draw for Humpback is its casual vibe for gatherings, even the food demonstrates a relaxed yet creative approach (with good results!), it is a great place to chill and go easy.
Thank you Jessica, Marie and Erica from Food News for the invite and hospitality (:
20 Bukit Pasoh Rd