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07 December 2011

The Halia

Halia means ginger in Malay and could not be a more fitting name for this restaurant located in the Botanic Gardens close to the Ginger Garden.  As I made my way through the gardens to the restaurant and although relatively close to a road I felt as if I'd stumbled upon an oasis in the middle of no where.  The afternoon and evening's rain only serving to make it feel even more exotic and lush as I approached.

Image courtesy of Foodnews PR

The Halia is celebrating its 10th birthday with a face lift, a new menu and a new culinary team.  The face lift the restaurant has undergone includes the introduction of a show kitchen which means you can watch the chef prepare your food whilst you dine.  The setting is very intimate with only space for limited diners indoors (though you can also dine al fresco) so you get a real feeling of exclusivity.

The chef de Cuisine behind the wonderful creations now on offer is Reynaldo Arriola.  He was born in Singapore and has had professional culinary experience in both Singapore and France previously.  His cooking philosophy is 'that one should always keep an open mind with the use of ingredients' and his new menu 'showcases modern European cuisine with occasional touches of Asian spices'.


The food certainly was beautiful both in the presentation of it and in the textures and taste, a real feast for the senses.  We began the evening with a Ginger Jive drink made of ice blended fresh ginger and fruit punch with orange and honey.  I love ginger and the refreshing tang in the drink certainly gave it a refreshing twist.

Ginger Jive drink
I had the opportunity to sample several appetizers whilst dining although I confess to not sampling the oysters.  I gather though from my fellow diners that they were very good.  Asides from the oysters our appetizers also included, a tian of vine ripened tomato with pine nut, guacamole, mango salsa, shiso and braised courgette, Jamon Iberico Bellota with baked yuzu walnut and olive oil, salad leaves with ginger-infused foie gras, balsamic deglaze, green apple, fresh fig and piment flakes and last but not least a tempura of white prawn and salad leaves with light lemon vinaigrette, baby shiso, beetroot and a celeriac reduction.

My personal favourite was the Jamon Iberico Bellota.  We were advised by the chef that this dish should really be eaten with our fingers with the walnut wrapped in the ham.  The ham was deliciously tasty with a wonderfully cured rich taste to it.  Even in the most exclusive of places if the chef tells you a dish is best enjoyed when eaten with the hands I recommend you take their advice!


tian of vine ripened tomato with pine nut, guacamole, mango salsa, shiso and braised courgette

Jamon Iberico Bellota with baked yuzu walnut and olive oil
Image courtesy of Foodnews PR
salad leaves with ginger-infused foie gras, balsamic deglaze, green apple, fresh fig and piment flakes

tempura of white prawn and salad leaves with light lemon vinaigrette, baby shiso, beetroot and a celeriac reduction

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After our appetizers we were then treated to a selection of the main courses firstly sauteed risotto soja with mascarpone and parmesan with poached oysters in a natural jus, seasonal truffle, seaweed, mushroom emulsion and white wine reduction.  This was certainly a very different risotto from any I've sampled before.  Mainly because the risotto rice was not rice at all but actually beansprouts cut up into very small pieces.  Certainly an inspired creation and one you should sample for yourself.  I just hope I haven't ruined the surprise by telling you here!  

sauteed risotto soja with mascarpone and parmesan with poached oysters in a natural jus, seasonal truffle, seaweed, mushroom emulsion and white wine reduction

We then sampled the Blackmore Wagyu rump, score 9+ (180 gm) with garlic saffron mash potato, sauteed baby spinach and madeira jus, the pan-fried Hiramasa kingfish with grapefruit foam, jamon Iberico in potato galette and a panache of vegetables, the grilled half lobster in a mushroom risotto with seasonal truffle, the black and white sesame seed crust farmed blue fin tuna tataki marinated in soy with sauteed baby spinach and saffron cream sauce, the pan-seared Challans duck breast with lyonnaise potato, apple and cinnemon compote and duck jus and lastly the roasted New Zealand rack of lamb marinated in Javanese spice, with ratatouille, purple potato puree and lamb jus.  I personally thought the duck was delicious and was perfectly cooked but all the dishes were amazing.
Blackmore Wagyu rump, score 9+ (180 gm) with garlic saffron mash potato, sauteed baby spinach and madeira jus
Image courtesy of Foodnews PR
pan-fried Hiramasa kingfish with grapefruit foam, jamon Iberico in potato galette and a panache of vegetables
grilled half lobster in a mushroom risotto with seasonal truffle

black and white sesame seed crust farmed blue fin tuna tataki marinated in soy with sauteed baby spinach and saffron cream sauce
Challans duck breast with lyonnaise potato, apple and cinnemon compote and duck jus
Image courtesy of Foodnews PR
roasted New Zealand rack of lamb marinated in Javanese spice, with ratatouille, purple potato puree and lamb jus

Of course to round off any good meal you need a selection of wonderful desserts which we were amply provided with here.  I was very satisfied by now but still managed to find room to sample the selection on offer.  This included, a solid chocolate air and white truffle snow with savoury egg custard filo stack and fresh red berries.  This was so much lighter than a normal chocolate dessert due to the clever use of cooking processes meaning that even after a large meal you can still make room for this delight.  I gather it was deliberately designed as such so no excuse for saying you have no room for dessert when you dine here!

solid chocolate air and white truffle snow with savoury egg custard filo stack and fresh red berries

I also tried the freshly baked fig tart with bacon pear ice cream, almond date, brie cheese, sour cream sabayon and wild mountain honey and finally, my personal favourite of all the desserts, the strawberries and cream, edible garden with passionfruit lychee dew.  This consisted of a wild strawberry ripple with cream cheese and vanilla ice cream on shortbread crumb with raspberry, blueberry, edible flowers, chocolate choux pebbles on almond cocoa soil and a passionfruit jelly in a shooter of sweet lychee liqueur syrup.  Absolutely wonderful!

freshly baked fig tart with bacon pear ice cream, almond date, brie cheese, sour cream sabayon and wild mountain honey

strawberries and cream, edible garden with passionfruit lychee dew
Image courtesy of Foodnews PR

As befits a restaurant whose name translates as ginger our meal was rounded off with a deliciously refreshing warm ginger drink.  Described as a good aid to digestion, the hot Halia Infusion, a house speciality of sun-dried ginger and wild mountain honey was delightful.  I would definitely recommend this to round off your dining experience here, the ginger being wonderfully warming and tangy.  

I was certainly very impressed with my dining experience here.  The restaurant would be a wonderful place to come for a business lunch, a romantic meal or any special occasion with its sumptuous food and get away from it all location in the Botanic Gardens, but who needs a special occasion to enjoy food like this?  

hot Halia Infusion a house speciality of sun-dried ginger and wild mountain honey

The full a la carte menu is available for dinner daily, 6.30pm to 11pm (last seating at 10pm).
The full a la carte menu is also available for lunch from Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays), 12pm to 5pm.
A 2-course ($28++) and 3-course ($32++) set lunch menu is available from Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays), 12pm to 2pm.
Set lunch items are changed on a weekly basis and supplementary charges are applicable for premium dishes.

Brunch and tea are also offered at The Halia (see details below), please note that I did not personally sample either of these.

Villa Halia (just opposite The Halia) is available for private events, for event and banquet bookings, call (65) 6287 0711 or email, banquet@halia.com.sg 


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

For reservations: (65) 8444 1148 (Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea)
For event/banquet bookings: (65) 6287 0711 or email banquet@halia.com.sg
Website: www.halia.com.sg

Operating Hours: 
Lunch – Mondays to Fridays, 12 noon to 5pm (set lunch only available till 2pm)
Dinner – Daily, 6.30pm to 11pm (last seating at 10pm)
Brunch – Saturdays, Sundays & PHs, 10am to 4pm
Tea – Saturdays, Sundays and PHs, 3pm to 5pm 
From 5pm to 6.30pm daily, only drinks will be available
(The above timings are applicable to The Halia only)

Villa Halia is open daily from 12pm to 10pm

Seating capacity: 32 in Restaurant; 70 at the al fresco; 220 at Villa Halia

Dress code: Smart, Casual

Modes of payment: Cash / American Express / Visa / Mastercard

This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to Foodnews PR and The Halia for the kind invitation.

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