Since opening in November 2012, The Halia at Raffles Hotel has won critics over with their menu of contemporary European cuisine with Asian influences. Instead of the usual “appetizers” and “main courses”, Halia’s dishes are categorized as “small plates” and “big plates”, to encourage “communal and free-form dining”.
I’m usually wary of fusion (confusion?) food and gimmicky-sounding concepts, but the skeptical me has been reluctantly won over, based on what I experienced at this lunch session for media.
The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio is one of the new dishes that’s just been introduced. Paper-thin slices of wagyu are garnished with truffle aioli, micro cress, chilli lemon salt, and pickled radish. I didn’t try this as I don’t eat raw beef, but my dining companions enjoyed it.
Another new item on the menu, this dish is similar to a ceviche. Love how the chef uses 3 different kinds of radish as pickles to create a tart and crunchy complement to the slices of cured kingfish.
This seemingly simple salad is in fact very indulgent, with cubes of seared foie gras. There’s crunchy almond kernels and croutons to provide crunch. I was surprised by the intensely sweet and tart dressing of apricot chutney and blueberry, but its bold fruitiness grew on me.
This vegetarian “small plate” is one of Halia’s bestsellers. Even meat-lovers find it irresistible. The “lasagna” sheets are actually slices of crunchy celeriac, alternating between layers of silky mushroom in madeira cream infused with the heady aroma of truffle.
Another one of my favorite “small plates” is the Oriental Pulled Duck — pulled shreds of duck confit served with soba noodles perfumed with sesame oil. Intensely savoury and lightly piquant, the duck has a familiar taste of Chinese braised pork.
On to the “big plates”. Within this lake of saffron tinted broth, there lies a generous amount of salmon, prawn, mussels, clams, potato, cherry tomato, and chorizo slices. Loved the citrusy scent of orange juice, but the sweetness of the orange threatened to overpower the natural flavors of the seafood.
More successful in execution is the chicken leg, first sous vide then rubbed with Middle Eastern spices and grilled till the skin is crisp and smoky. We especially like how the red pepper salsa complemented the tender chicken and butternut squash puree.
Unfortunately, the steak was a bit on the dry side, because we took our own sweet time to finish other dishes first before eating this. The steak comes with a choice of sauce and side; we sampled the 3 sauces you can choose from. Love the decadent foie gras butter the most, followed by the chunky mushroom cream sauce (it’s almost like a mushroom ragout!) and black pepper sauce.
Much more memorable was the rack of lamb. This dish is a Halia signature, and it’s easy to see why. The lamb has none of its characteristic gaminess, yet it is naturally flavorsome, juicy, and fork-tender.
This totally Singapore-inspired dish is another Halia signature. The combination of thin pasta and crab meat in chilli sauce sounds dubious, but it works brilliantly.
The ginger nougat parfait is also a Halia classic, but non-fans of ginger at our table didn’t like it.
A safe dessert choice would be this new item — white chocolate mousse with dark chocolate “soil”, peach puree, raspberry, and chocolate ice cream.
The unanimous crowd favorite was the warm and spongy sticky toffee pudding, topped with divine butterscotch sauce, vanilla bean ice cream, and a light sprinkle of sea salt.
And paying homage to its heritage premises, Halia’s version of Singapore Sling uses Hendrick’s gin, which adds a lovely floral rose scent to the cocktail.
Chef Ciaran Armstrong isn’t shy to use bold flavors in his creations, and I salute him for that. I also appreciate his use of fresh quality ingredients without the use of MSG. Save for a couple of not so memorable dishes, The Halia at Raffles Hotel impresses with their sincere effort and successful execution of modern fusion cuisine.
Besides the ala carte menu, Halia at Raffles Hotel has an Express Lunch set menu (S$25++ for 3-course meal + coffee/tea) on weekdays, and Pre-Theatre Dinner Set (S$28++ for 2 courses, S$33++ for 3 courses) daily from 5.30pm to 7pm. Check out their website for the menus.
Prices stated are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.
Many thanks to The Halia at Raffles Hotel and FoodNews PR for the invitation.
The Halia at Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road
#01-22/23 Raffles Hotel
Tel: +65 9639 1148
Mon – Fri: 11.30am to 10pm
Sat, Sun, PH: 11am to 10pm