[Singapore] The Halia

 Blog title - The Halia [Singapore]

My mum works at The Halia‘s current and only location in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. She makes the many drinks the restaurant offers and sells at its kiosk stand. It’s hard work with very early mornings, but she seems to enjoy the work and the people she works with.

She has worked there a number of years now and we’ve been to Singapore several times, but never got the opportunity to dine at The Halia. We decided a visit was long overdue, so we went for lunch on our visit to Singapore in December last year.

 

The Venue

Nestled inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens, The Halia is a fair walk from the Botanic Gardens MRT station. Signage to the restaurant is limited, but follow all signs to its neighbour the National Orchid Garden.

The Halia might not look imposing nor impressive from the outside, but its true nature is hidden by the surrounding ginger plants and palm trees. It offers several dining areas, each with a unique view to the greenery outside. Those who seek relief from Singapore’s unforgiving heat and humidity can escape to the air-conditioned dining room, but the open-air deck was just as popular.

 

The Service

As my mother works at the restaurant, I am not inclined to comment on the warmth of service.

The Halia was busy at the time with a number of large groups, so while time to table and ordering were swift, food service was slow. However, we were told from the very straight that our meals might take awhile, and the manager apologised for the delay. Both strategies helped manage our expectations and we were fine with how long it took.

 

The Food

The Halia offers a weekday set lunch menu from 12 pm till 2pm. It includes a starter, a choice between 3 mains, a choice between 2 desserts, and coffee or tea to finish. Two courses set you back SGD28, and three courses are SGD 34. Prices do not include 7% GST or 10% service charge.

The SO worked up quite the appetite walking from the Botanic Gardens MRT station to The Halia, so went all out with the three-course weekday set lunch.

The soup of the day was white vegetable soup – potato, parsnip, etc and served with a freshly baked bread. Tasty, but not particularly stellar.

The Halia (Singapore)

The Halia (Singapore) - Ginger Jive. SGD 7

Ginger Jive. SGD 7

Between the barramundi, slow-cooked chicken breast or puff pastry parcel, the SO went with what’s familiar to him – the pan-fried barramundi.

The Halia did very well with its crispy pan-fried skin and not drying out the flesh underneath. The bed was a Thai coconut cream (think super mild green curry), served with lengths of firm asparagus, cherry tomatoes, pignolina and basil oil. This was, for us an unusual flavour combination with barramundi, but it was enjoyable and satisfying.

The Halia (Singapore) - Panfried Barramundi

Panfried Barramundi

I got The Halia‘s Puff Pastry Parcel, which in hindsight I could easily recreate at home. Filled with butternut squash (pumpkin), spinach and feta, the pastry is dressed with dehydrated olives, mesclun, and a drizzle of basil and tomato oil. Deceptively simple, and utterly delicious for those looking for something vegetarian and heartier than a salad.

The Halia (Singapore) - Puff Pastry Parcel. SGD 24

Puff Pastry Parcel. SGD 24

The Paperbag Oven-baked Halibut Fillet was by far the star dish of our meal.

Presenting the fish in its crinkly paper bag offers the diner to create their own personal dining theatre – one has to gingerly untwist and peel back the folds with anticipation, to reveal the prize inside.

If you have any initial sense of disappointment at the dark mess inside, don’t get your panties in a twist! Stick your fork in there and taste it. The fish has sucked up the umami flavours from its ginger and soy broth. Add a touch of the wasabi aioli or ginger flower sambal (or both! My preference was for the sambal though), and your taste buds will sing!

The Halia (Singapore) - Paper bag oven-baked halibut fillet

Paper bag oven-baked halibut fillet

The Halia (Singapore)

The Halia (Singapore) - Ginger Spice, all things nice

Ginger Spice, all things nice

Dessert was a toss up between Die Die Must Have Chocolate (chocolate and raspberry, which sounded kinda vanilla to me) and Ginger Spice, all things nice.

We decided to be adventurous and opted for the Ginger Spice, which was delightful! I admired the number of elements that all balanced each other: ginger and almond nougatine parfait (the base and it’s stunning, without being sickeningly sweet), coconut mousse (very light and not too heavy on the coconut), compressed pineapple (little cubes of summer sunshine) and shavings of dehydrated coconut flesh.

 

The Verdict

I am definitely willing to overlook the slow service to visit again for a lazy lunch of good food.

 

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore 259569
Phone: +65 8444 1148