Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens is now certified Halal!

October 16, 2017

[Media Invite]

Did you know that the Halia restaurant at the Singapore Botanic Gardens has recently been converted into a Halal restaurant as of June 2017? This beautiful restaurant which has been at the UNESCO World Heritage inscribed Singapore Botanic Gardens since 2001 can now be considered an inclusive dining destination for all. Muslims who visit the Botanic Gardens often now have the option to dine amidst this lush greenery without having to scoot off elsewhere for lunch or dinner.

It certainly makes sense to cater to the Halal market because of its unique location in one of Singapore’s most popular tourist destination.  In order to be certified Halal, a significant change they have had to make is to remove alcohol from the menu. I am told this has not put a dent on profits because now the customer base has widened! Anyway, with a name like ”Halia”, which means ”ginger” in Malay, the connection is now even stronger.

Btw, when I say ”inclusive dining destination”, I do mean it also in terms of pricing. Years ago, if you thought Halia to be an expensive restaurant, you would be right. But the menu has been largely revamped and now there are many main course-sized dishes going for less than $30. Appetisers are in the $15s range while desserts are about $11. Yet when you look at the decor and the ambience at Halia, you feel like you are dining in an upscale restaurant! On the evening of our media tasting, quite a number of tables were occupied by people celebrating birthdays. I would certainly love to celebrate my birthday there, it is so romantic at night!

Anyway, on to the food. In general, I thought the food was very good, given the pricing. Quite a number of the dishes were also innovatively presented so that nothing is predictable or mundane. Also the presentation, and small touches were befitting of an upscale restaurant. It is the attention to detail that takes a dish from good to great.

Halia - Fresh Boston Bay mussel ($22  )

Fresh Boston Bay mussel $22

My favourite dish of the evening was this mussel dish, featuring a slightly spicy coconut and ginger flower broth had such an intense flavour that made me crave for more. A good thing that they provided a substantially sized slice of focaccia bread to mop up the delicious broth. This dish is listed under the ”In Between” section of the menu, meaning that this may not be filling enough if you’re a large eater.

Halia -Lightly Smoked Kingfish ($17  ) Chilled cucumber & ginger shooter, almond, chilli & lemongrass oil (2)

Lightly Smoked Kingfish $17 

The fish was pretty delicate in flavour as well as texture, and disappeared all too soon. Oh you’re supposed to pour a chilled cucumber & ginger shooter onto the fish, but I quite liked it on its own.

Halia - Carmalised Onion and Beetroot Tart ($17  ) Puff pastry, feta cheese, balsamic glaze

Caramelised Onion and Beetroot Tart $17  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen beetroot being served in this manner before. Beetroot sometimes strikes fear in people as it has a reputation to be a rather healthy vegetable with a raw aftertaste. But here the beetroot had been cooked till caramelised (i.e. sweet) and very soft, and it contrasted very well with the salty and flaky puff pastry.

Halia - Charred Caesar Salad ($12  )

Charred Caesar Salad $12

Not your traditional type of Caesar salad, this has been jazzed up with black garlic aioli, beef bacon and pickled cucumber. I’m not sure if charring the leaves was the best way to treat fresh vegetables. As crisp as possible would be how I would like to enjoy fresh salad leaves. Still, this method of preparation does add an interesting dimension to an otherwise ubiquitous dish.

Halia - Pan-fried Barramundi ($28  )

Pan-fried Barramundi $28

A comforting and simple dish of fried fish on creamy pasta Thai style. Yes that’s pasta you see there, not rice grains.

Halia - Slow cooked tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin ($29  ) (1)

Slow cooked tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin $29

Halia - Slow cooked tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin ($29  ) (2)

Slow cooked tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin $29

The above 2 dishes come together and cannot be ordered separately. I adored the potato gratin immensely, because that’s where all the chicken thigh meat were! Super tender chicken thigh, with cheesy potato gratin makes for one of life’s simple pleasures.

I am always fearful of being served chicken breast because more often than not, I find them stringy, tough and dry. Thank goodness this version wasn’t, as it had been slow cooked. And if potato gratin is considered Western, the chicken breast was prepared in an Asian style, with ”wok-hei” cabbage and mushroom sauce, and a sliver of truffle thrown in for good measure.

Halia - Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew ($46  ) (3)

Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew $46

Halia - Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew ($46  ) (2)

Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew $46

The above 2 dishes are served together. The rump stew above was served with bulgur wheat and feta cheese while the lamb rack was served with baby spinach and thyme jus. Both dishes were very good, and I’m hard-pressed to decide which one I prefer more. I think I preferred the rump stew more as the meat was really fork tender, and I don’t think it’s that common to find rump in casual restaurants.

Halia - Fig Tart ($11  )

Fig Tart $11

This fig tart was simply amazing. First of all, who would have imagined a tart to look like this? But the idea actually works! There was a medley of flavours and textures going on here, from the soft and tangy yoghurt mousseline to sweet and sticky fig, to crispy speculoos and tart shell. Memorable indeed.

Halia -Yuzu Gateaux ($13  )

Yuzu Gateaux $13

In comparison, this looked so much more common, although it is tasty in its own right. Yuzu is presented in multiple ways here, from the yuzu infused sponge cake, to the yuzu chocolate ganache, and yuzu foam.

You know, I really loved the experience at Halia. And I’m so glad that Halia has gone Halal, I have been telling all my Muslim friends about it and we have been making plans to visit together. It’s probably one of the few Halal places with such a nice ambience, offering breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, at relatively affordable prices. Not forgetting its location in a UNESCO World Heritage site i.e the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I have a good feeling I’ll be visiting again before the year is over.

Update 30 Oct 17: My muslim friend did visit Halia for brunch last week! Read about Family Trippers’ experience here.

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Read about my previous reviews of what to eat at the Singapore Botanic Gardens here.

Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens

1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens Singapore 259569

Opening Hours :

Monday to Thursday (Except public holidays) : 9.00am to 9.30pm (Last seating)

Friday & Eve of Public Holidays: 9.00am to 10.00pm (Last seating)

Saturday: 10.00am to 10.00pm (Last seating)

Sunday & Public Holidays: 10.00am to 9.30pm (Last seating)

Easy Breakfast: 9.00am to 11.00am (Monday — Friday except public holidays)

Brunch: 10.00am to 5.00pm (Weekends & Public Holidays)

Tel : (65) 8444 1148

Email : info@thehalia.com

Website : http://thehalia.com

Menus : http://thehalia.com/sbg/cuisine/a-la-carte-menus/

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