15th December 2015
A Guest Review by Alvin Ong:
Teh Halia – a local ginger milk tea that is pungent, half spicy and peppery, half lemony, yet simultaneously sweet. This food tasting at Halia Botanic Gardens does justice to its namesake. The signature Halia Infusion comes in a French press and was accompanied by a self-regulating cup of wild mountain honey set the stage for what was in store. Pick the hot version over the cold one.
Get the Lemongrass and Ginger Tiger Prawn Salad if you want to relish the unlikely fusion between vermicelli salad with salad greens, peppered with pungently sweet mango slices. Joining this appetite inducing mix are juicily pan-seared prawns that were marinated in turmeric and blue ginger (galangal). If only they could supplant the greens with more vermicelli. We also had the Lime and Ginger Yellowfin Tuna Kinilaw and the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio.
For mains, the Oven-baked Halibut Fillet arrived wrapped in a comforting, homely broth completed by steamed Japanese rice topped with black sesame seeds.
The wakame and truffle mayo dip is a pleasantly surprising addition that works in this Asian-inspired creation.
Halia’s Singapore-style Crab Spaghettini is another mouth-watering signature dish and a successful reinvention of the local classic that inspired it. The thinner spaghetti strands allow the thick, spicy mix of the crab sauce to come to the fore, and for good measure, bits of crab add bite. The ginger flavors are a piquantly fresh addition.
Also worth sampling is Spice Islands Marinated Lamb Loin. The lamb was succulent and almost melted in your mouth, although a good bulk of its flavors were completely hijacked by the mild curry and wild rice. One could say that there were too many things happening at the same time. Perhaps it can be suggested that the wild rice curry be served separated from the lamb to improve the visual plating, and also do justice to the beautifully cut, bite-sized lamb steaks. This one wins hands down as the most eclectic dish of the night.
The tofu in Tower of Silken Tofu Tempura was convincingly soft and crisply fried on the outside, but the accompanying Portobello mushroom and eggplants underneath had very clear, light that didn’t complement the heavy palate dominating the other mains ordered. This would have worked better as a starter.
For desserts, Die Must Have Chocolate is a true must have. A winner, enough said. To bring the Halia stamp on the dessert menu they have come up with Ginger and Spice, All Things Nice, a pleasant frozen ginger nougat parfait, spiced pineapple sauce with ginger crumble. This one is like a party acquaintance; utterly sweet and pleasant to have, but forgotten the next morning.
The Other gets the top prize for its beautiful presentation of edible flowers, pomelo, mango, sable and passionfruit sauce around a mango mousse and yoghurt sherbet. Dig into it quickly before it melts.
Set amid the lush tropical greenery of the Botanic Gardens, Halia is worth visiting even if parks are not your kind of thing. The final verdict - A heady, flavorful exchange that would satisfy lovers of the tastefully eclectic.
1 Cluny Road
Singapore Botanic Garden, 259569
Thank you Food News PR for the invitation and hospitality!