This is literally a restaurant in the garden – and within Singapore’s most iconic Botanic Gardens. “Halia” drew its name from the Ginger Garden nearby, and is indeed a scenic get-away place for that relaxing brunch or romantic dinner in earthy greenery.
Halia Restaurant is not the most accessible place in Singapore, but getting here is worth it if you want to indulge in a quiet dreamy dinner, especially if the weather is cooling. After 10 years, it has also gone through a facelift with a new menu and a young Chef de Cuisine Reynaldo Arriola.
I had a Christmas seasonal special with modern European cuisine enhanced with the occasional touch of Asian spices. The appetiser – Crystal bay king prawn cocktail with beetroot mango salad ($32++) boosts of beautiful unruffled prawns, which would have been bare on its own, but heightened with a sharp calypso sauce.
The Honey-baked Kurobuta Ham ($32++) was more impressive for the same price. While the meat could still be tenderer, the caramelised fig on top worked in a subtle balance both in taste and texture.
What’s Christmas without turkey? Rather than the usual roasted whole bird, Chef transformed the meat into a Turkey Roulade ($68++), rolled with apricot and raisins for a sweeter inside. Perhaps it was served in a thicker chunkier roll; the result was rather dry and could do with more of its red currant jus.
Similar happened to the grilled blue eye cod fish ($78++). The pan-fried spinach polenta on side did not serve to add any more moisture, and more passion fruit sauce would ease the dryness.
Perhaps the best was saved for its desserts. Try the Mille feuille of pistachio and cream, eggnog ice cream and stewed cherries ($$22++). The Christmas soufflé with white chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg base, sided with salted caramel ice cream ($22++) was one word – heavenly. The fluffy soufflé collapsed and settled well in the tummy.
I also need to add that The Halia Infusion ($10++) made with imported Vietnam sundried ginger and wild mountain honey is the best ‘teh halia’ I ever had – Simply wonderful.
1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter from Tyersall Avenue off Holland Road), Tel: +65 8444 1148
Opening Hours: Lunch – Mondays to Fridays, 12 noon to 5pm (set-lunch only till 2pm); Dinner – Daily, 630pm to 11pm (last seating at 10pm; Brunch – Saturdays, Sundays & PHs, 10am to 4pm; Tea – Saturdays, Sundays and PHs, 3pm to 5pm; From 5pm to 630pm daily, only drinks will be available