Thursday, September 24, 2015

Halia at Botanic Gardens

Here are the highlights of a meal we had recently in Halia. The restaurant has been around since 2001, and have been a favourite for many. They recently had their premises renovated, and the new restaurant is as beautiful as the former. Now even more so with the garden inside feel. But how is the food?

We started with a fabulous lemongrass & ginger tiger prawn salad ($19++)

Fresh mango & tomato salsa, glass noodle & ginger flower dressing. The prawns were large, succulent and very tasty. The most intriguing about this this is the chef's salad dressing. Superb. Just the right balance of all the tastes. And the glass noodles went well with the dish by soaking up the dressing...Very nice.

The next appetizer was the Chilli crab dip ($15++) with crisp baguette

I found this dish brilliant. The chilli crab could have a little more spice kick, but overall it was excellent. Chunks of crab in a piquant sauce. On crisp baguette. Nice. Kin did not fully agree, feeling that the crab could be more substantial. But I was happy. For me, a nice dish.

The for me, the other appetizer, the lime & ginger yellowfin tuna kinilaw was less successful. Kinilaw is a Filipino dish. 

On to the favourite for the evening was the paperbag oven-baked halibut fillet ($40++)

The fresh halibut was baked in a paper bag with mirin sake, ginger broth. And served with sesame Japanese rice, wakame & truffle mayonnaise on the side. The fish was superb. Smooth, creamy, very fresh. Beautifully cooked. The sauce was also sublime. The brilliant mix of miron sake with the ginger broth was magnificent. Loved this dish. Goes well with the rice. 

The next main we had was the Wild Alaskan black cod (140gm. $56++)

With ginger flower sambal, Chinese long beans & pickled ginger jus. We found this dish to be b bit bland. The fish was cooked nicely enough...nice moist flesh, crisp skin. But the long beans were undercooked resulting in a greenish flavour. 

And the Spice Islands marinated lamb loin ($44++) was also a bit ordinary.

Perhaps ordinary is too harsh. The baby back ribs are excellent. The meat just fell off the bones at the prodding of a fork. Very tender. The meat was a tad too lean, lacking in the fats that usually make up flavour. And the seasoning a bit is a nicely concocted barbeque sauce, but no wow factor. It was served with a curried wild rice, charred chilli, pickled ginger & coconut on the side. The rice was hard, but I liked the curry sauce. We note though that we thought this dish to be not extraordinary, the other tasting party thought it was her favourite for the evening. 

Then on to desserts. I only hilight two...first a very unusual ohr nee.

Doesn't look like one, nor actuallly taste like one either.  The "Orh Nee" ($12++) is made from frozen home-made yam parfait, pumpkin puree, candied gingko nuts & lotus seeds. I guess the traditional ohr nee is made by pulverizing yam and cooked over a slow heat with pork lard. This was frozen, a first assault of the unfamiliar. And then the pumpkin puree and candied nuts were untraditional. But it did taste very good. More like yam/tofu ice cream with dressings of pumpkin, ginko nuts and lotus seeds. I really liked it, despite, or because, it does not taste of the traditional hot ohr nee. Nice one chef!

And the Die Die Must Have Chocolate ($12++)

A must have for chocoholics. The chocolate raspberry gnache, cacao nibs tuile, chocolate go fabulously with the marshmallow, raspberry sorbet, raspberry sauce, crispy raspberry and chocolate. Nice sweet end. 

Overall the restaurant had a wonderful ambience. Service was excellent, wait staff being very knowledgable and easy to catch. Food is excellent, mostly. I really loved the king prawn salad, the chilli crab dip, and the halibut. But others present in the tasting loved the cod and the pork ribs. The desserts got all round approval. 

Halia Restaurant
1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569
Access by taxi at Tyersall Avenue, near the Ginger Garden. URA Coupon parking on Tyersall Avenue. Free to park on the coach lots after 6 pm.