Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Chinoiserie Season at The Halia @ The Halia Restaurant

The last time I visited the Halia restaurant was my birthday in year 2008. I recalled HY bringing me to this ulu part of the Botanic Gardens. We parked our car at the coach parking along Tyersall Avenue the last time (parking at the coach parking bays is alright after 6pm), just like I did this time. Follow the path that starts with a sign that reads 'Halia Restaurant', you'll pass the lush green foliage of the Botanic Gardens, a man-made waterfall and be right in front of the restaurant in less than 5 minutes. There's something magical about the Singapore Botanic Gardens, at least to me. It was in the evening, the short stroll with HY from the car park to the restaurant felt so romantic. This time I was back alone, retracing the same path to the Halia Restaurant for an invitation to a preview of their seasonal menu for Chinese New Year, "A Chinoiserie Season at The Halia"

The preview menu was so nicely presented to us like an opened Chinese scroll. 

At the helm of the Halia Restaurant's kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Reynaldo Arriola who brings with him experiences of stints in France and Singapore which he aptly applies to his European creations with Asian touches. At this preview, these European Asian creations were presented to us in a special menu to celebrate the Chinese New Year festive season. This special menu will only be available for lunch and dinner from 18th January ~ 7th February 2012. 


Gold (S$38) - Foie gras, miso, seaweed, miso and spring roll with piquillos sauce
Th spring rolls are a representation of gold bars and symbolises wealth. Befitting the symbol of wealth is the use of a rich ingredient, foie gras. The spring roll can be a little greasy but it was really delicious. It went well with the spicy piquillos sauce. We asked for second serving of these gold bars.

Prosperity (S$38) - Carpaccio of ocean trout, carrot, golden sultanas, Chinese leek with pomelo and pamplemousse, black moss, glass noodle, black & white sesame seed and green lime juice, orange plum sauce, pickled ginger.

Here's my share of Prosperity being tossed up and ready to be eaten. This version of carpaccio was nicely pieced up together to create a single portion of 'Yu Sheng', a dish that we Chinese in Singapore eat during the Chinese New Year period. In the typical 'Yu Sheng' we toss for wealth and prosperity with a huddle of family and friends. This version, I get to toss it on my own, for myself. I enjoy this more than the traditional Yu Sheng as it had the sweet and sour taste like Yu Sheng but taste cleaner and sublime. The contrasting taste of the savory ocean trout was a delight.


Abundance (S$70)- Kurobuta pork toro, yuzu and kumquat sweet sour sauce, fricassee of carrots,
white asparagus, prosciutto and chive
I love the tender Kurobuta especially the crispy thin skin that made it all so palatable. Being a self profess lover of pork belly with some experience roasting one, I can appreciate a good roast pork belly. The crispy skin was thin and the rest of the belly, a good tenderness with it's taste exalted by the kumquat sweet and sour sauce. The fricassee beautified the dish with it's dash of colors and even the flower stuck in the middle was edible. 

Dragon (S$110)- Half lobster, angel hair pasta, XO lobster bisque, abalone garnish
Lobster in Chinese translates into 'Dragon Prawn' and hence the introduction of lobster to signify the year of the dragon. Angel hair pasta signifies longevity. The lobster bisque was heavy but I thought should be rightly so as it was used as a sauce for the pasta. This mains was a generous portion and the perfectly cooked lobster and abalone can do it no wrong. One thing I've learned about angel's hair is that you eat it as soon as it's served al dente especially when it's drowned with lobster bisque like this. 


Happiness (S$24) - Chocolate mousse, orange sesame tuile, Szechuan pepper ice cream
I was really happy with this dessert especially the fragrance of the sesame mingling with the chocolate mousse. I was enjoying the moment until the spicy Szechuan pepper hit me caught me. Looks can be deceiving as the little peppery devils lurked inside. Well one can certainly find Happiness in surprises.

Even though we section it to reveal what's inside, it still looked innocent enough to beguile the unexpected. 

Fortune (S$24) - Orange tiramisu, triple sec orange liquor gelee, pistachio nougat, orange meringue
Orange signifies wealth and we had a glassful of it! Definitely not orange juice we are talking about here. If you wish for your life to be full of sweetness, this would be your choice. 

You can piece up the dishes above into a 3 course set with prices listed below. There's even specific Brown Brothers wines to pair with each dish. Most of which are exclusive to The Halia Restuarant.

3 Course Set
Choice of appetiser, Lobster main course, and choice of dessert $168 
Choice of appetiser, pork main course, and choice of dessert $128
With wine pairing (3 glasses) add $40
Prices are subject to 10% service charge & prevailing GST.

After dinner we had some ginger tea but not from this decorative tea set supposedly used by the owner of the restaurant during her wedding. I liked the ginger tea but I prefer my own brew better.

... and I wish that I can whisk off this exquisite tingkat, tiffin carrier, to takeaway the delicious food created by Chef Reynaldo.

This is definitely a change from our typical Chinese New Year meal. It was really fun tasting, chatting and discussing about the food that we ate. When we were finished with our mains, Chef Reynaldo came out of the kitchen to sit down with us. For one, he's young, charming and was very open to sharing and our comments on his food.

As this is an invited food tasting, "We" within the context of this food diary entry refers to fellow food lovers who was invited as well as Karen from Food News who organized and invited us.

For reservations, call +65 6287 0711 (office hours)  or email 

1 Cluny Road (access via Tyersall Avenue)
Ginger Gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens

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