The Halia has been on my ‘Temptations‘ page for the longest time, and I can finally strike it off now. The restaurant has been around for a whooping 12 years, serving two very different crowds at Botanic Gardens and Raffles Hotel. With that, its interior design and menu caters to the respective – one set in a lush and laid-back environment, while the other a modern, fast-paced and busy surrounding. On a weekend, The Halia @ Botanic Gardens is definitely a more appropriate choice to opt for. A relaxed walk in the park, supplied with an abundance of fresh oxygen. Man, that sounds healthy already, and can arguably (if you’re not that calculative) balance out what you’re going to have for brunch in a bit.
A useful tip for getting to the restaurant is to look for the sign saying, ‘Singapore Orchid Garden’. The restaurant is right across from it.
The furnishing was exquisite and elegant. I was impressed. The outside the wooden-centric concept, while the inside the black, white and red, a colonial yet contemporaneous touch to it, complete with a high ceiling, done such that the morning sun only has a chance to peep into the dining area, thus not interfering with the job of an air-conditioner.
The Halia’s menu has only been recently revamped earlier July 2013, together with the introduction of Executive Chef Peter Rollinson, who now helms the kitchen of The Halia. Coming from Australia with his more than a decade experience, his daring and creative take on the ingredients leaves you in for a treat with his new creations in this all-new Modern European cuisine with an Asian twist.
Brunch is served only on the weekends and public holidays from 10am – 4pm. Unfortunately, reservations are not taken for Brunch. If you are like me, who have been living in the city for way too long, you ought to know that on a weekend, Singapore Botanic Gardens is filled, and I mean really filled with tourists, tour groups, school groups, and families alike. I had thought that I would have a chance to take a quiet and non-disruptive walk in the Gardens en route to the restaurant. I was so wrong, but still a good sight of the activities going concurrently.
Halia Infusion (Hot) ($10++) :: A house specialty mix of sun-dried ginger and wild mountain honey. I’ve always been a fan of Ginger Tea as it exudes the pampering feeling, thanks to it being a common practice in beauty salons. I like it such that the ginger is overwhelmingly strong – which The Halia has rightfully fulfilled (well since ‘Halia’ means ‘Ginger’ in Malay).
Iced Cardamom, Ginger & Cinnamon Coffee ($12++) :: This add-your-own-sugar-and-milk coffee is solely for serious coffee drinkers. And I’m for sure, not one. I like my coffee nicely flavored. It can get confusing with that many loud ingredients coming together all at once. Do you know, Cardamom is the seeds of a plant of the ginger family, and it’s the world’s third most expensive spice.
Cocktail of King Prawns ($22++) :: Very neatly and sleekly presented, the batman here is the King Prawns, while the robin(s) are avocado, wasabi, coriander with spicy tomato sauce. I’m not so much a fan of the latter two, but when put together, man do they work well. I found myself voluntarily getting a huge chunk of coriander to complement the prawns. And I’m a non-green person. If you’re feeling generous, go for this.
Cinnamon French Toast ($18++) :: Of the three main breakfast items I’ve had, this piece of exquisite art wins, hands down. This ain’t your everyday French Toast, it looks huge, but very easily edible with its very soft texture. A bite into it and you’ll find it very fluffy (it’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!) as well. Much enjoyable and best thing, it doesn’t get cloying. Thanks to its fresh seasonal berries (which aren’t sour, thank god), white chocolate (which adds an all new twist to it, but not overly sweet), and Iranian pistachio, the entire dish doesn’t get too one dimensional after all. Trust me on this, order this whilst there.
Poached Eggs on Brioche ($22++) :: The poached eggs were done perfectly. The hollandaise was sprinkled with some dill (which I would have loved even more if it was more generous, but I know, I know, these condiments are only meant for as a touch and go). I thought it was very much an ordinary course and safe option.
Wood Smoked Salmon Toastie ($24++) :: Beautified with a sunny-side up, I was reluctant to touch it. I mean, just look at its vibrant look. However, the Toastie fell short as I find the Smoked Salmon quite a bit too salty, and that there was nothing (in the dish) to help with the damage control. The Toast was nicely done. Fragrant and crisp on the edges.
Halia Chilli Crab Spaghettini ($28++) :: A Halia Signature dish tossed in Singapore-style spicy, sweet and tangy crabmeat sauce – one that is highly acclaimed, but didn’t quite work its way through my palate that very day. I’ve heard raving reviews on this, and I’m hoping it was just a rare error on the restaurant’s part. To me, the spaghettini was cooked pretty alright, but it was just the whole taste that didn’t quite gel. It wasn’t as addictive as I thought it’d get. A little too sweet and not spicy enough for me.
Sticky Valrhona Chocolate Brownie ($12++) :: A dessert dish to satisfy your chocolate cravings. It wasn’t the best dessert I’ve had, but notable enough. It might have been because of the below..
Caramelized Banana Walnut Bread ($24++) :: When asked to choose a favorite dish of the day, I was torn between the French Brioche and this. Being quite an anal sweet tooth, I was greatly impressed with this. The Walnut Bread was done to perfection – pleasingly firm, dry and brittle on its edges but soft, warm and comfortable on the inside. As you take a bite, the combination would give a ‘fly me to the moon’ feeling. Complete with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream and Kumquat Compote. Highly recommended. It can come as a little pricey, but heck, share it with your friends and at least give it a go if you are already here.
As you look outside the restaurant, you would see happy families after families bonding under the sun. It’s like in the Army, you bond when you suffer right. But it’s also true that you need to reward yourself after a long day. The Halia Restaurant is a family-friendly place. Ready your children for some fun with crayons when they are here.
Even though this is a Invited Tasting session, I am sure I will find myself here again.
Special gratitude to Cyndiana, Shasha, Michelle and the FoodNews team, and The Halia Restaurant team for the hospitality and hosting the invited tasting event.
Address (In Context): 1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Telephone: 8444 1148 (Reservations not taken for Brunch)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 4pm, 6.30pm – 11pm (last seating at 10pm) (Mon – Fri); 10am – 4pm; 6.30pm – 11pm (last seating at 10pm) (Sat – Sun)