Botanic Gardens | Halia at the Ginger Garden

Halia has been around for quite some time and it has been consistently serving an East meets West cuisine. Its portfolio of classics has grown beyond the Chili Crab Spaghettini, including the Ginger Garden Dessert and the Paperbag Baked Halibut which I feel is a testimony of a restaurant being able to re-invent itself beyond a few signature dishes and personalities.

There used to be two Halia restaurants, one at the Raffles Hotel and the other at Botanical Gardens' Halia Garden (Ginger Garden) where the original Halia was founded. Located within the gardens gave Halia a really pleasant setting, the kind of place I would love to relax and have a meal after having a stroll in the gardens (if I can afford both the time and money lah).

The interiors of the restaurant is heavily dominated by textures of wood, masonry and a touch of Southeast Asian aesthetics. The cutlery include wood plates and lights made from wood probably sourced from Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand or Indonesia. The cuisine reflects this diversity too, looking at the interesting mix of ingredients.

One key development of Halia recently is the acquisition of a Halal certification from MUIS this year.

While the alcohol and some items of the menu are gone, there is still a range of interesting tropical drinks such as the Lychee and Thyme (8.00++ SGD), a concoction of garden tea, lychee juice, thyme infusion and raspberries, which makes a rather refreshing drink to have.

To start, we had the Lightly Smoked Kingfish (17.00++ SGD), a appetizer of chilled cucumber & ginger shooter, almond, chilli and lemongrass

But what was most memorable for the appetizers was the Fresh Boston Bay Mussels (22.00++ SGD for 300 grams) and sourced from South Australia. The mussels was cooked in a coconut & ginger broth with chili and lime and served with a grilled focaccia made in-house.

Pan-fried Barramundi ($28++)
Thai coconut cream, green asparagus, cherry tomato, pignolina, basil oil is an interesting dish because this is the first time I encountered "pignolina", a kind of pasta that resembles orzo or risoni. The pignolina is mixed with basil oil, coconut cream and crunchy asparagus. The flavours reminded me of Thai green curry which was fascinating as the flavours brings a kind of familiarity by the way it was put together was rather unique.

Slow Cooked Tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin ($29++)
"Wok-hei" cabbage, mushroom sauce is another noteworthy dish for its tender and juicy chicken breast, easily one of the better chicken dishes I had. I hope they maintained this consistency.

There is the potato gratin that was served alongside the chicken, but the chicken has stolen the show.

Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew ($46++)
Bulgur wheat, feta cheese, baby spinach, thyme jus has the table divided. If you love the strong flavours of lamb, the lamb rack was really good, great textures once again but the lamb flavour might be too strong for some. The rump stew was a bit of a let down, I had higher expectations for this dish but the meat came across as a little dry. The use of bulgur wheat which resembles barley was interesting.

and now on to the desserts!

Yuzu Gateaux ($13++)
Yuzu infused cake, intense chocolate yuzu ganache, lait caramel mousse, yuzu foam is like a twist to a very nice madeira (citrus) cake. the pairing with the milky caramel mousse and the yuzu ganache adds a nutty and tangy flavour to the dessert.

Fig Tart ($11++)
Yogurt mousseline, speculoos, caramelised fig, turmeric foam. For something more "classic", the fig tart brings familiar flavours of a fig tart but an interesting mix of textures such as the crunchy speculoos crust and the tumeric foam also gave the dessert an interesting aromatic quality.

and we finished the meal with a cup of coffee. Along the way, you could observe Halia has been trying to re-invent or re-think familiar dishes and flavours with its unique approach. This consistency is what that gave Halia a kind of character which allows its modern take on Asian cuisine to be fascinating after many years and a change of chef.

Hopefully, Halia maintains its consistency and continue to amaze us on its take of regional flavours. With a garden setting and decent food, this place is potentially one of my favorites. Price-wise, it is not the cheapest but it looks like Halia tries hard to develop a characteristic cuisine not bounded by a chef's tenure or a single dish and results has been positive despite one or two lackluster dishes.

1 Cluny Road
Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Garden
Singapore 259569

Thank you Food News PR for the invitation and hosting us.


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