Looking for a brunch to wow Singapore visitors (or keep energetic kiddos occupied)? Look no further than The Halia, mama
A few weeks ago an old friend from the U.S. was passing through town on business and asked if we could meet up for a “tame” meal (she’s also seven months pregnant). I wanted to take her somewhere that showed off Singapore’s beauty as well as its fantastic cuisine, and after much discussion with my husband we decided on The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens. I’d heard great things about their brunch but had never been there myself, so we decided to give it a try.
The Botanic Gardens are, after all, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and I love that the restaurant is conveniently situated just across from the amazing National Orchid Garden and adjacent to the lovely ginger garden.
In fact Halia is the Malay word for ginger, and it’s a prominent ingredient across the totally extensive all-day brunch menu (served every weekend from 10am all the way til 5pm).
Some signature dishes include a beautifully zingy Lemongrass & Ginger Prawn Salad, Fresh Mussels with Coconut Broth and Ginger Flower Sambal, and Paperbag Oven-Baked Halibut Fillet with Soy, Mirin & Ginger Broth.
Of course, if you’re like me and prefer a more breakfast-style brunch, Halia has still got you covered with classics like Pain Perdu (delectably fluffy hazelnut brioche smothered with praline sauce, bananas and chocolate ice cream), a generous serving of Truffle Scrambled Eggs with gorgeous seasonal tomatoes and a side of arugula with sourdough bread, and a totally intriguing Homemade Cheese & Chili Cornbread Muffin with avocado puree, tomato and smoked chipotle salsa, and grilled bacon. They also offer basics like avocado toast and fruit salad, along with tantalizing sides like Truffle Fries and Marinated Spanish Olives.
My toddler and I both loved our egg dishes – she scarfed up about three quarters of the Truffle Scrambled Eggs and I happily finished the last part. They were perfectly cooked and quite flavourful. My 62.5 degree Poached Egg served on an English Muffin with sauteed spinach was also well cooked. My favourite thing that I ate at the meal, however, was a radiant Heirloom Tomato Salad with spiced capsicum gazpacho, feta cheese, organic basil and crisp bread. Good, flavourful tomatoes in Singapore are so hard to find, and these were a real beaut!
My husband tried the aforementioned muffin and thought that it could have been a bit spicier; he was also confused by the fact that it was served “deconstructed” – like the muffin was literally broken up into chunks so that it didn’t feel like much of a muffin at all (I assume this was to encourage dipping into the salsa and avocado puree).
I insisted that our visitor try out a refreshing ginger drink, and she opted for the house-specialty Iced Halia Infusion (tea with sun-dried ginger and wild mountain honey), as the Chilled Lemongras & Ginger Infusion and Chilled Ginger Flower & Lemon Infusion both have added sugar. True brunch afficionados will be happy to hear that there’s also free-flow coffee and tea available for just $8.00 up until noon, and of course there’s a nice selection of brunch cocktails including your requisite Mimosa, Bloody Mary, and even a house-made special with Sangria.
If you’re not too stuffed after all that, the Halia can definitely tempt you with some yummy desserts. I can heartily recommend the Die Die Must Have Chocolate with chocolate raspberry ganache, cacao nibs tuille, chocolate marshmallow, raspberry sorbet, raspberry sauce, crispy raspberries and chocolate (is that enough chocolate for you)? Despite its utter decadence the bright juiciness of the raspberries still shines through. Definitely one for sharing though, mamas.
While there’s much to love about The Halia’s big brunch menu, my favourite aspect of the restaurant is the stunning location, which is meant to evoke “a restaurant in a garden and a garden in a restaurant”. Look out the floor-to-ceiling windows in any direction and you’ll find lush green leaves. The high ceilings and ceiling fans allow breezes to waft through so you almost feel like you’re sitting on a veranda, even indoors. If you’re not with a wiggly toddler (as I was), I’d definitely recommend the restaurant’s elevated “viewing deck” that has a particularly jungle-like feel.
While The Halia doesn’t take brunch reservations, we didn’t encounter any wait when we showed up at 11am – prime brunch time, so I’d say you’re safe giving it a go, mama! The staff was also totally patient with my daughter — bringing her crayons to draw and special kid-friendly utensils. Of course the moment she was done eating she was dying to race out the door to go look at all the flowers and search for her favourite giant lizard; if your kids are slightly older it’s a great place to let them run loose while you enjoy a drink or two.
After we’d finished we took a nice stroll around Palm Valley and the Symphony Gate — I love a restaurant that helps you walk off a big meal! What’s more, I felt like we’d accomplished our goal of showing a visitor some of the best of what Singapore has to offer.
The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue), Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569, Tel: (65) 8444 1148, www.thehalia.com