The good folks at FoodNews and The Halia invited me down for a food tasting last month. When they sent the address, I thought that they had either sent the wrong address or I got the name of the restaurant wrong. I mean, everyone knew THE Halia was at Botanical Gardens right?
Turns out I was wrong on both counts. There was a new Halia branch at Raffles Hotel! I was really pleased by that news. As an eastie, Raffles Hotel is prime location for me, easier to get to as compared to the Botanical Gardens branch!
As I have never been to the Botanical Gardens branch, I can't really compare how is the decor, food different from there.
First up! Some pictures of The Halia at Raffles Hotel!
I like the whole decor of the place. LeRoy from FoodNews mentioned that The Halia at Raffles Hotel was positioned as an urban-casual restaurant, serving up contemporary European cuisine with Asian touches. It looked like a pretty cosy place, suitable for friends and partners. The place wasn't too brightly lit, which gave it a bit of a romantic feel. LeRoy even mentioned that there were two proposals that happened there!
I loved the place so much, I made plans to visit it soon with my neighbour Le-Vonne! (Who sells gorgeous accessories by the way!)
I learnt that The Halia at Raffles Hotel offered a very unique concept of "Small Plates" and "Big Plates" instead of the usual "Appetisers" and "Mains". We can mix and match as many small and/or big plates as we like! Which I thought, made it really fun and flexible!
And let the food reviews begin!
Singapore sling by Hendrick's
Hendrick's Gin, Cherry Brandy, Cointreau, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine Syrup & Benedictine D.O.M
How can one NOT try the Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel? It is like the iconic drink at Raffles Hotel! This lovely cocktail wasn't as strong as I thought it will be. Something refreshing to start the ball rolling...
Cured hiramasa kingfish
Paprika, citrus, espelette pepper, lemon, daikon and sauce vierge
Super refreshing dish! I thought the kingfish went really well with the daikon. Because of the citrus and lemon, it gave it a rather tangy taste. Me likey!
Wagyu beef carpaccio
Truffle aioli, micro cress, chilli lemon salt, pickled radish
THIS MUST ORDER! I liked how the Wagyu beef just melted in my mouth! Coupld with the chilli lemon salt and truffle aioli, i had a sensory overload on my tongue. As someone who LOVES beef, this dish was really shiokadoo! The next time I go back, I'm going to order this dish ALL TO MYSELF! Didn't feel that I had enough that day but... can't be too greedy!
Mushroom, thyme, baby spinach, lemon, madeira cream
When LeRoy first introduced the dish, I was groaning to myself. I heard the word "Lasagna" and thought to myself "Sigh. I can't eat this." Turns out, there was no "carb" here! (as in obvious starchy carbs like noodles, rice and bread. Technically the cream probably might have contained carbs) This is a suitable dish to order for your vegetarian friends! Only vegetables used here!
Oriental pulled duck
Gherkin, caper, micro herb salad, soba noodle, sesame oil
I thought this dish was an interesting marriage of the duck and the classic japanese soba noodles. The sesame oil was a nice touch. I enjoyed the noodles but thought that if the duck was a bit more meatier, I would have enjoyed it a little bit more.
Foie gras salad
Apricot chutney, ginger, blueberry, crouton, almond kernel
Anything Foie gras has got a huge stamp of approval from me. I thought the salad and apricot chutney went surprisingly well with the Foie gras. It did felt a bit oily but it was damn good! I can't decide which did I like better, the Wagyu beef carpaccio or the Foie gras salad. Hmmm.
Pignolina pasta, basil, parmesan, olive oil
I am such a huge fan of baked lasagne, gratins and rice. Which was probably why I gained a tremendous amount of weight at the past. When I first tried the Seafood gratin, I thought that it was rice!
There was this internal struggle within me. Rice. NO! Pasta. NO! Rice. NO!
In the end, I found out, it was pasta. It really got me fooled! Love the generous serving of cheese. I couldn't help but went for more despite my low carb diet. *HELP!*
Sous vide Baharat chicken leg
Butternut squash puree and roast ginger, coriander red pepper salsa
This dish was incredibly juicy! I always thought chicken legs were rather a dry dish but I was pleasantly surprised by this flavourful dish! The butternut squash puree and salsa gave me a rather tangy flavour!
Halia chilli crab
Spaghettini, spring onion, egg
Personally, I thought this dish was okay. The chilli crab was delicious but I thought that it tend to get a bit "jelak" after a while. I would have preferred if this came under the Small Plates option instead. (Maybe because I take very little simple carbs now and this was way too much for me.)
Javanese spice Maori Lakes rack of lamb
Eggplant Puree, red pepper relish
I loved that the lamb didn't have that overpowering taste or smell that most lamb or mutton dishes have (aka "gamey"). It was really juicy, which you probably could tell from that lovely shade of red in the pic. Sweet, succulent and juicy.
Polenta coated asparagus, basic lemon mayo
Honestly, I didn't really like this dish. Felt that it was way too oily for my liking.
Ginger nougat parfait
Caramelised pineapple, puff pastry, almond, anise, cinnamon
I didn't really enjoy this dessert. Am not a fan of ginger in the dessert form. It was a tad overpowering for me.
Chilled strawberry soup
Sparkling wine, balsamic, lime sorbet, black pepper
It was the first time I have seen such a dish! *suaku* They poured the sparkling wine over the lime sorbet. My first thought was "OH NO! MY SORBET IS MELTING!". And yes, while it did melt, the flavours of the strawberry puree, sparkling wine and lime sorbet danced away on my tongue. Yes, there was a party in my mouth.
White chocolate mousse
Chocolate soil, peach puree, raspberry, chocolate ice cream
I'm a bit bias here. After trying the Chilled strawberry soup, this just did not cut it for me. It was a tough fight. BUT on it's own, it was yummy. The chocolate ice cream was sinful, I tell you!
Sticky toffee pudding
Date, butterscotch sauce, sea salt, vanilla ice cream
WHY HELLO THERE! As many of you guys may know, I AM A HUGE FAN OF CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE. Nothing comes close to me. I was proven wrong that day.
The STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING is awesome. It's better than sex. It's sofaking awesome. It makes you see rainbows. It gives you that little tingle in your fingers.
Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit too much here. But you get what I mean. Vanilla icecream (I spy vanilla bean specks), date pudding and butterscotch sauce made this dish so good that we all asked for a second helping. Yes, all 4 of us. Who are on a diet. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING?!
Was it a good meal? It was really good. It met my expectations and more. Yes of course, there were some misses but thankfully the hits were way more!
It's great chatting with these crazy charbors!