Rice-less risotto and bacon/pear ice-cream are just two of the delightful creations at the newly revamped Halia Restaurant, which recently marked its 10th anniversary.
By Joelle Pang
When our City News team was invited for a food tasting at The Halia, I was initially a little apprehensive—”halia”, a Malay word for ginger, was definitely not my favorite spice by far. How was I going to survive, let alone enjoy a meal at a restaurant named after a spice I had a fear of since my younger days?
Turned out my worries were completely unwarranted. Before you write them off as another gimmicky “themed restaurant”, you should know that The Halia actually draws its name from its idyllic locale within the Ginger Garden within the lush Singapore Botanical Gardens.
The revamped menu showcases a modern European spread, with occasional touches of Asian spices creatively featured to give the dishes a unique character and taste profile. By keeping an open mind with the use of ingredients when he conceptualized the menu, chef Reynaldo Arriola intends to give his guests “a multi-dimensional palate experience.”
Chef Reynaldo has close to ten years of training and professional culinary experience, with names like the prestigious Raffles Hotel under his belt. He has also been on a sojourn in France, spending time in notable French restaurants, like the two Michelin-starred Château Cordeillan Bages, alongside top chefs in the country.
We started with the Tian of Vine-ripened Tomato, Pine Nut, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, Shiso and Braised Courgette (S$28), a refreshing medley of greens, beautifully plated and presented, with the mango salsa giving a fruity kick to the well-balanced vegetable dish. The ginger notes were almost indiscernible on the Salad Leaves, Ginger-infused Foie Gras, Balsamic Deglaze, Green Apple, Fresh Fig and Pigment Flakes (S$29) although the dish on the whole was a masterful balance of sweet and savory.
Quite possibly the highlight of our dinner was the Sauteed Risotto Soja (S$42), served with poached oysters in natural jus, seasonal truffle, seaweed, mushroom emulsion and white wine reduction. In case you’re thinking risotto is too heavy a dish for you or you’re on a carb-free diet, the twist in this delightful dish (which just so happens to be Chef Reynaldo’s claim-to-fame in France) will pleasantly surprise you—do give it a try.
We also like the black and white sesame seed crust on the Farmed Blue Fin Tuna Tataki (S$62), which gave the dish a nutty touch, bringing out the crisp freshness of the lightly-seared fish.
Our dessert was as unusual as desserts could get. The Freshly-baked Fig Tart, Bacon and Pear Ice-cream, Almond, Date, Brie Cheese, Sour Cream Sabayon and Wild Mountain Honey (S$16) was served with the ingredients presented separately on a board. It came across like a deconstructed “something” that we can’t quite put our finger on yet thoroughly enjoyable.
Taking some cheeky liberty with the quintessential rojak, the Halia’s Rojak (S$16) substitutes the usual ingredients with berries, chilli chocolate sauce and homemade ginger flower sherbet; it just goes to show how much fun one can have with a familiar dish when a dash of inventiveness is employed.
A live jazz band performs on the second and last Sunday evening every month at the al fresco section—just one more reason for you to dine outdoors, amid the lush greenery and crisp, cool air.
1 Cluny Road,
Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
+65 6476 6711