I was amazed when I first stepped into Humpback. With the morning Sunday sun gently streaming into the restaurant, I was encaptivated by the casual, welcoming setting presented by the striking chandelier in the middle, the oyster bar just beyond, and the array of high chairs adorning the tables. From the entrance, the bustle that was going about the entire restaurant was engaging – representing an uplifting beat well suited for this Seattle-style restaurant.
Previously opened only for dinners, Humpback along Bukit Pasoh road has thrown open its doors for its take on the ever-popular Sunday brunch. Group Executive Chef Polo Seah has done his magic in creating innovative, new dishes on top of highlights from the dinner menu to sate the tastebuds of all guests. All this, matched with an all-new cocktail menu; a build-your-own Bloody Mary programme; and an All-Day Happy Hour offer for Pacific Northwest oysters at only $2-3++ each, this is one Sunday brunch that has got me craving to come back.
There is perhaps no better way than to start the meal with a selection of freshly shucked oysters. The Hama Hama, from a 5th generation family farm, is petite and bold with clean, crisp flavours standing out in a sharp presentation of refreshing sweetness and delicious textures. The Blue Pool oysters were larger and carried a lot more depth in flavour, but also with a sweet saltiness that was distinct to the palate. My favourite, however, had to go to the Eld Inlet oysters. These shelled delights were exceptionally sweet and richly flavoured, and its crisp finish was remarkably enriching. These oysters, priced at $3++ each, are definitely worth a savour.
For a cocktail that comes with an oyster inspiration, my order of the Oyster Shooter ($17++) was simply delightful. An assortment of Stoli Vodka, Shooter mix, Oyster and Horseradish foam comes together in a glass – only to be quickly savoured as one partakes in the umami rich tomato, the tinge of grassy spice and the burst of sweet oyster in a single sitting.
After the range of oysters, it was certainly refreshing to break into a portion of Lettuce ($12++) drizzled with buttermilk, celery and toasted wild rice. Although this is a dish that sounds simple, the flavours are almost breathtaking. The combination of buttermilk lends just a touch of creaminess to the fresh greens, but it was the toasted wild rice which contrasted the crisp vegetable with bits of popcorn sweetness that stood out for me. The table of guests was so impressed by this dish, that we simply had to order another portion to share.
Humpback’s new customized Bloody Mary initiative is certainly set to wow tastebuds for the adventurous diner.
I had my fix settled with a i) clamato juice infused with ii) shiitake vodka, iii) lemon salt, iv) horse radish, v) pickled prawns and vi) an olive. I did not immediately detect any fragrance of seasweet clams in my clamato juice as the earthy aromatics from the shiitake vodka stood out boldly and in centre. Still, this was a robust combination that the playful me would love to go back for more. The only folly in any customizable drink is that as much as you can play with the ingredients, some do pair well with the other, while others simply fade into the background. Just like my clamato juice and shiitake vodka.
The Burrata ($13++) was a decent addition to the table, though it did not leave an impressionable memory for me. The Brussel Sprouts ($12++), on the other hand, is one dish that might puzzle some into thinking, “why would anyone order that”? Still, I do have to admit that the well seared toy “cabbages” was hearty and sweet, with the toppings of raisin, egg and chipotle well incorporating the flavours into a single dish.
For a show stopper, indulge in Chef Seah’s take on the humble Fried Egg ($14++). It hardly occurred to me that a hard-boiled egg with a runny centre would be coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried to a golden brown on all sides before being served with Octopus, Orzo and a base of Tete De Moine cheese. It was a joy to cut through the egg and see the yolk ooze out onto the Italian rice-shaped pasta. The flavours were hearty, and the orzo gave a good textural base with a contrast of creaminess and a general touch of al-dente pasta. An excellent dish all around, and kudos to the chef for a cheeky play on the common idea of the fried egg.
As a choice of some added meat, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($10++/$18++) with sriracha sauce is available. This southern inspiration had the chicken tender, with a crusty exterior that goes well with the famed American hot sauce.
From the seafood section, there are other options like the Lobster Roll ($39++) and the Hamachi ($18++). The Hamachi was thinly sliced, and comes served with “Tiger’s Milk” (a citrus marinade), Sweet Potato and Horseradish. The dish was in overall a little spicy with a touch of creaminess that added on to the already satisfying crisp and flavourful cuts of fish. The Lobster Roll was fresh and pretty decent, though I would rather order two other, more unique dishes for the same price paid.
I, however, thought that the Fish & Chips ($14++/$24++) was unbalanced with a stronger degree flavour found in the batter – though I do have to give a thumbs up to the crisp batter that withstood the test of time as we polished off the rest of the dishes on the table. The Prawns ($18++) which was served in a base of garlic and white wine, reminded me of a familiar soy sauce prawns dish that I cook at home. It was garlicky and savaoury, good enough for second dibs.
The Seafood Tower is, perhaps, the most extravagant option on the menu where the chef presents the best choices in seafood for the day. The table ordered the 2 tier Seafood Tower ($190++) and the gargantuan platter arrived stocked with oysters, lobsters, prawns, scallops and more. This is the option to call for if you’d like to leave everything to the chef’s hands. I do have to give credit to the accompaniment of oyster aioli which was sweet and creamy, a perfect complement to the seafood choices on ice.
End of the entire brunch with either another cocktail or desserts like the Semifreddo ($10++) or Varlhona Chocolate Mousse ($10++). The chocolate mousse was my preferred option just because there were fine grains of sea salt sprinkled over the top.
Humpback at Bukit Pasoh has emerged as a clear favourite for me if I do need a Sunday brunch recommendation. The food was largely enjoyable: Chef Seah and his team has done a great job in being innovative while keeping constant to hearty flavours that please. And the vibe of the place was certainly suggestive of a relaxed Sunday. Humpback’s Sunday brunch is worth the visit, and I am now very interested in seeing Chef’s creations during dinner.
Thank you Humpback for the invitation.
|18/20 Bukit Pasoh Road
Reservations: 6750 4461
Mon to Sat 5pm to Midnight
Sun 11am to 3pm