The 100-seater Halia @ Raffles Hotel prides itself as a dining concept that encourages flexibility and communal dining. Just because they are housed in the majestic Raffles Hotel does not mean that they are out of reach. The restaurant hopes to put that across, and will be slowly pushing the communal dining concept as time goes by, because here, they believe in eating like a family. I was fortunate to dine with fellow foodies, family style, with 13 dishes from the Communal Feasting Menu (Dinner) ($260++/4 persons) whipped out from the kitchen of the restaurant.
Halia @ Raffles Hotel has an al-fresco dining area / bar right at the corridor, complete with the Hendrick’s Gin Tub, which is actually functional whenever needed.
Lady luck was on my side that the (1) Chef’s Soup for the day was Mushroom Soup. The first course is served individually (so I would expect only 4 servings). The soup was done to my liking – velvety, and packed full of mushroom smell and taste. The (2) Bread Selection also complemented the thick and rich mushroom soup. Love the assortment.
(3) Homemade Barley is served in a jug for 4. Other options include Iced Tea and Lemongrass.
Appetisers comprise of (4) Goats’ Cheese Mousse and (5) Oriental Pulled Duck. The former was one of those well-balanced flavour and texture concocted appetisers. Smoothness, crunchiness, sweetness, a mix-and-match of heirloom tomato, olive, wild honey and dried brioche. The latter was less attractive to me. The pulled duck sits on a bed of micro herb salad, soba noodle, caper and gherkin, dressed in sesame oil. Though it was nothing to yell about, it was a palate-opening starter for sure.
Then came two dips. The lighter of the two was the (6) House-smoked Salmon Pate. I ate the seemingly innocuous vibrant-looking pate without looking at the menu, only to realise that it was smoked with Hendrick’s Gin. I thought it was quite heavy (but of course, I don’t drink). Very interesting, and it comes with beetroot chips, crostini and cucumber. I prefer this to the (7) Chilli Crab Dip, served with toasted baguette, notwithstanding. Truth be told, I have never been a fan of their chilli crab dishes here – I thought it was too sweet.
The first of four main courses is the (8) Baked Kingfish Collar. I love the well-cooked fish, where its moisture was retained, together with its flavour. It’s well marinated, and I love it the way it is, without dipping in the orange miso sauce (I’ve never seen how orange sauce can go well with any meat, including duck). It comes with pickled vegetables as sides.
The Kingfish was fine, but not really the (9) Wagyu Beef “Zhajiangmian” for me. This is not your everyday ‘zhajiangmian‘. This has no noodles; the noodles is made up of shredded carrot and bean sprout, dressed in oyster sauce and garnished with spring onion. I must admit though, I’ve never been a fan of minced meat, be it wagyu beef or iberico chorizo in this bowl, because I can never truly taste the meat well. Points given for creativity though.
I love the subsequent two meats, thankfully. I guess they save the best for the last. I don’t know if I love the (10) Twice-cooked Spatchcock of Sping Chicken more or, the (11) “Gunpowder” Wagyu Topside Mayura Station more. The result of the twice-cooked spring chicken is one that is moist, perfect tenderness, and well-flavoured with paprika. Comes with spiced cabbage slaw. Not too far away from excellence is its meaty counterpart, the wagyu topside. Though not the best cut used, I was satisfied with the bite and flavour in any case. ‘Gunpowder’ is part of its name because the meat is marinated for 4-6 hours with elements similar to gunpowder (mainly charcoal) to add a touch of smokiness to the meat. It is then cooked sous-vide for 59 degrees celsius for 30-45mins resulting in an incredibly indulgent piece of topside. A bottle of mushroom sauce comes along; I recommend using it as a dip rather than a dressing.
The 13-dishes communal feasting continued and ended with a bang with its well-executed desserts. Reminding me of a Potong ice cream is the (12) Coconut Parfait, but more happening and sophisticated. It’s a popsicle of coconut, pineapple, ginger flower, chocolate and the pop-in-your-mouth magic dust; kiddish but enjoyable regardless. Steal more of the (13) Sticky Toffee Pudding from the table I suggest. And keep it down. The pudding is simply to die for with just a slight drizzle of the butterscotch sauce with sea salt. Think warm sweet pudding, salty sauce, and ice cold vanilla ice cream. Ooolala!
Even though the communal feasting menu is minted for four persons, I have checked and was told that they will not stop any group who wants to have a party of more than four share the feast. I reckon five persons to the feast portion is just about right. Essentially, if you break it down, even if it’s shared between four, it’s a full-sized soup, appetiser, main course and half a dessert for the price of $65++ per person. It’s easily that amount if you construct the 4-course meal elsewhere. So if that is the intention, then I say it’s worth it here, because here you get to share too, openly and without being judged for not having table manners.
Address: 1 Beach Road, #01-22/23 Raffles Hotel
Telephone: 9639 1148 / firstname.lastname@example.org (takes reservations)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm (Mon – Fri); 11am – 11pm (Sat); 10am – 11pm (Sun & PHs)
This was a media session. Thank you FoodNews.