Spice Up Your Dining Experience at the Halia (Now Halal Certified)!

I must admit I’ve always had a soft spot for Halia. Set against a backdrop of lush greenery and ambient birdsong, it’s easy to forget that you’re just a little walk away from urban Singapore. With the botanic garden’s recent UNESCO appointment, the grounds have become even livelier, but never too much so – it’s still the very picture of serenity.

Today, I couldn’t wait to check out Halia’s menu revamp, which it undertook after being awarded a Halal certification. I was eager to see if the restaurant still retained their tasteful flavour combinations and creative use of spices, and in these the restaurant did not disappoint.

Halia couldn’t have been sited at a better place than the middle of a spice garden – the kitchen does an exceptional job at showcasing the wide range of spices available in the tropics, employing them in a number of creative ways (even the restaurant’s name features this play on spices, with Halia being the Malay word for ginger).

Being Halal-certified, Halia no longer serves alcoholic beverages. You wouldn’t miss the lack of booze though, for the restaurant has conjured up an alluring range of specialty drinks and herb infusions that bring together wonderfully complex flavour profiles. Consider tasteful titles like the Grapefruit and Tarragon ($8++), which features Earl grey tea, fresh grapefruit juice, house-made tarragon infusion and soda, or the Cucumber and Basil ($8++), a mix of Tulsi (holy basil) tea, Japanese cucumber and a basil infusion.

But it is with its food that Halia really shines, with its beautifully plated dishes and whirlwind of flavours. Large dishes at Halia are particularly appropriate for sharing, and you may want to select a variety of them to taste all of them with your friends.

Beautifully plated dishes and a whirlwind of flavours

The first dish to arrive was the Lightly Smoked Kingfish ($17++); clean and fresh on the palette, it really gets the appetite going.

Coming alongside was the Caramelized Onion and Beetroot Tart ($17++), my personal favourite of the starters. The beetroot is cooked perfectly, robust, and with a savory, almost meaty texture. It is savory-sweet, pretty as a manicured garden, and sits atop a delightfully crisp puff pastry. Attractive aesthetics, complementary flavours and contrasting textures – this dish is a star example of Halia’s capabilities.

The Charred Caesar Salad ($17++) is an intriguing starter, looking a little like it was doused in squid ink, except for its creamy taste of garlic aioli. It is refreshing and addictive, albeit slightly dangerous for those wearing white shirts.

The first of the large mains to arrive was the Slow Cooked Tender Chicken Breast and Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin ($29++), a great one for sharing given how it’s practically two dishes in one. The chicken breast is moist throughout, and is accompanied by “wok-hei” cabbage – the veggies are a hit, with their lightly charred flavour and satisfying crunch. The gratin has the character of a shepherd’s pie with lots of gravy, and is hearty and comforting.

The Pan-fried Barramundi ($28++) arrives in a burst of colour and dynamism; the fish sits atop a bed of what looks like risotto, but which is actually pignolina pasta. Fun fact: Orzo is rice-shaped, whereas pignolina has a slightly longer and more slender look that is very similar to pine nuts. It is a thoughtfully balanced dish, ranks for me as the best of the mains.

The Lamb Rack and Braised Spice Islands Marinade Rump Stew ($46++) is our third main to arrive– or should I say, third and fourth main. This wonderful dish comes in two parts – the first is a classic combination of lamb rack and spinach, robust and flavorful. The second is the rump stew, which is reminiscent of a sweet, dry rending, set atop pearly white bulgur wheat.

Desserts that knock it out of the park

Halia’s desserts really knocked it out of the park (or, gardens, as it were) for me. All parts of each dessert were made in-house, and to very high levels of detail. First to arrive was the Yuzu Gateaux ($13++), with the yuzu imparted its characteristic bright and citrusy perfume to the dish.

Second was the Fig Tart ($11++), perhaps the star dessert of the day. Caramelized fig, yoghurt and turmeric foam are arranged delicately on a wonderfully crisp and crumbly speculoos tart base. It is wholly addictive, and took the better part of self-control to not order another.

The Ginger Garden ($14++) is a classic of Halia’s. Here, it’s undergone a re-imagination of the original hit and, in my mind, they’ve taken an already great dessert and elevated it once again. Sporting an intricate butterfly lattice that’s almost too pretty to eat, the garden hid delectable galangal (blue ginger) poached apples. The Ginger flower sorbet is fragrant and refreshing, and was wiped clean by our party.

Patting our satisfied bellies, I think it’s safe to say that Halia’s decision to get Halal certified was both well thought out and executed. The dishes are as inventive and flavorful as they were before, and now even more of us can get a little taste of that creativity. It sure looks like Halia’s set to spice up the dining scene once again.

Thank you The Halia for the invitation.

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

Reservations: 8444 1148
Website

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thurs 9am to 9.30pm (last seating)
Fri and Eve of PH 9am to 10pm (last seating)
Sat 10am to 10pm (last seating)
Sun and PH 10am to 9.30pm (last seating)

Brunch Weekends and PH 10am to 5pm
No reservations on weekends and public holidays from 10am to 6pm

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Celebrate a multitude of Korean culinary flavours at Hansang, The Grandstand!

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At Hansang, the Grandstand, guests can indulge in a variety of Korean culinary delicacies in the Han Jeong Sik course meal or the BBQ set at a value for money price of $45/ pax (usual $90/ pax). In the BBQ set, be treated to 5 types of beef including the Wagyu fillet, Wagyu Brisket, USDA Prime Ribeye, Marinated Beef Short Rib and LA Beef Ribs in addition to a selection of Pork Belly, Loin, Jowl, Collar Meat as well as Marinated Pork Rib.

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The spread starts off with an assortment of side dishes that is refillable. Homemade kimchi and pickled vegetables are the hallmark of this Korean family restaurant. After which, tuck in to a dish of Japchae followed by a Bean Paste Soup.

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The Japchae was lightly fragrant with sesame oil and always a beauty to behold.

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However, the Bean Paste Soup was a touch salty for my liking, but I would attribute it to the main ingredient itself being heavily fermented and naturally salty. Still, good enough for that hearty aftertaste especially on a cold night.

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Fried Pancake

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Hansang uses a dual grill featuring both charcoal and gas that aims to add flavour to the meat without compromising cooking time.

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I found the BBQ meats to be nicely cooked, tender for some and generally pleasant and well flavoured for all. A side of vegetables are available to wrap the meats in.

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The stone pot rice will be the staple to the entire meal. Prepared and cooked in the stone bowl at very high temperatures, the serving releases a good amount of steam from the mixed grain set that features healthy ingredients such as purple rice, barley, red dates, sweet potato and carrots.

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A feature from this dish is that after scooping out the rice, hot water is usually added to the crusty bits left all over the pot to make a soothing broth that will cleanse the palate after the sumptuous meal.

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Guests visiting Hansang at The Grandstand will be able to enjoy the special promotion of both the BBQ and Han Jeong Sik sets at $45/pax. For the Han Jeong Sik set, 6 main dishes including Beef Bulgogi, Pork Bulgogi, Grilled Mackerel, Jokbal (Pig’s Trotter), Bossom (Boiled Pork Belly), and Sweet and Spicy Pork Rib will be served up. The dishes I tried were generally decent, making the promotional price well worth at an introductory taste of Korea. But perhaps the best part of the entire meal is to see your table filled with the various Korean dishes that is almost like what you see in those Korean traditional dramas on television.

Thank you Hansang for the invitation.

Hansang
The Grandstand
200 Turf Club Road
#02-14
Best accessed through Giant supermart
Contact: 6463 6508
Opens from:
11.30am to 10pm

DIO Burger at The Grandstand! How High Can You Stack Your Burger?

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How high can you stack your burger with free flow condiments for the picking? DIO Burger at the Grandstand aims to bring family-friendly Do-it-ourselves food culture of American dining to the little island of Singapore. With a condiment bar for all burger orders, guests will be able to tailor make their perfect burger for the palate. If you are like me who loves a stackload of pineapple slices topped with tomatoes and a scattering of olives in between the patty and burger buns, this could very well be the place for you. And oh, there are movies screened throughout the day, making this place a great pit stop for families and friends who want a little TV in their meals.

Continue reading “DIO Burger at The Grandstand! How High Can You Stack Your Burger?”

Tuck in to some Fine Grub by the Grandstand at The Ascot!

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Good British cuisine is remarkably not a frequent sight on the local food scene in Singapore. The more common cuisine types tend to dive straight into the ubiquitous Japanese, Italian, French, and American to name a few. As such I was quite intrigued to head over to The Ascot where word of mouth promises some of the most scrumptious British food available on this island. Located at The Grandstand (formerly Turf City), The Ascot is a restaurant serving traditionally English “gastrogrub”. With a menu of classic English favourites and an extensive selection of alcoholic drinks from the UK, guests can look forward for a taste of Britain right here in Singapore.

Continue reading “Tuck in to some Fine Grub by the Grandstand at The Ascot!”