Tucked at the corner of the ginger garden in Singapore Botanical Gardens is a restaurant aptly named Halia (Malay for ginger). Many of the dishes feature the Zingiber of various varieties and the chef made it clear with a nice little icon next to the menu item for those who have a natural tendency to dislike the spicy root. The family went during the CNY and ordered from the daily Set Lunch menu. Be warned, the restaurant was tucked away from the main gates and MRT, and walking there will render the caloric intake for lunch absolutely useless.
The set lunch menu featured 4 starters, 5 different main courses and 4 different desserts, and comes with after lunch tea/coffee (generic type, not gourmet tea or coffee). It is offered only between 12pm-2.30pm, and last order is 2pm. After that, you will be charged ala carte prices. The sheer numbers of people at the restaurant overwhelmed the staff and our lunch was served 30 mins late (that’s for the starters). And so they offered complimentary bread for us (wait a minute, I thought bread was ALWAYS part of the deal).
The soup of the day was Cream of Mushroom which we found a bit runny but the hint of truffle was quite nice.
This was a play on the classic Mozzarella and Tomato Greek salad. The compressed watermelon was quite nice on a hot afternoon, but goat cheese was just average.
House-cured meant that it was a salty sashimi and not your smoked/salted salmon of the commercial kind. Nice and everyone that had this enjoyed it.
I had this, and I liked the texture of the parmesan and carpaccio (not too thin), and room temperature (got a bit worried at first, but heck). One of the better carpaccio I had in Singapore as most places served it too cold.
Instead of the gnocchi, we opted for a safe bet for Princess with a specially made SB. The Bolognese sauce was quite good, I would say it can now be on my list after Picotin’s version.
Interesting dish, the grilled fish was served with a consommé. and if not, the fish was quite bland.
Hmmm, that’s really a pathetic piece of fowl, who do you want to feed with that small piece of meat? Flavours a plenty, but the portion not wanting.
A spin on the Singaporean favourite, the Chilli crab sauce was ok, a little too gingery. But overall it will work, however where’s the crab(meat)?
The rendang was a bit too dry for my taste, and the lack of rendang sauce made the overall experience dismay – you need more sauce for the jasmine rice. But the spice mix for the rendang was flavourful, and again too galanga can be unforgiving.
Think five spice in chocolate cake – you either love it or hate it.
This worked as the sweetness of the pineapple was balanced with the spicy ginger.
The highlight was the cheese ice cream – creamy yet not too overpowering with cheese. Even my brothers who hated cheese took this and said it was good.
Fruit salad fusion style, everything was cubed and mixed together with ginger ice shavings and nuggets of ginger tea jello. Nice combination that resembled the sweet potato with ginger concoction that Mom made.
We have a large group, and the service staff was not very attentive. Also, I was quite mad for the fact that they did not mentioned that if we did not placed our orders before the lunch cut-off time (2pm), the items ordered after will be ala carte priced. So as usual, we placed our orders for main course and left the dessert order late. And when the bill came, that made our total $68 more. A civilised discussion later, they decided to reset the bill and recalculated the total based on all set lunches. Kind jester, but all these could be avoided simply by coming over to the table to asked about our dessert orders at 2pm.
Service was just ok, food was quite good but portions were a bit small even for small eaters. The ambiance was, what can I say, world-class as you are nested in the midst of a World-Heritage wannabe. Go for the al fresco dining and not indoors for that cicada-chirping, squirrels on the tree experience (provided it’s not raining). I am sure the place would be magical in the evenings. Recommended if you are a small group and looking for an unique eat. Wheel-chair friendly (via the main dining hall, tell the service staff when you reserve the table), and child-friendly for lunch. But Singapore Botanical Gardens is quite a maze if you do not come via the Tyersall Ave entrance – recommend you drop the party before you go park at the Visitor Center (10-15 min walk away).
Halia at SBG
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Tel: 8444 1148