Halia is Malay for ginger and dinner at The Halia is all about that spicy rhizome. There used to be one at Raffles Hotel (although it is apparently closed now) but there is something about enjoying an exotic open-air ginger-themed restaurant steps away from the Ginger Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens that is just too perfect.
We spent a couple of sweaty hours in the stunning but humid gardens visiting swans, orchids and koi before settling under the ceiling fans that made the outdoor dining room a delight. Tom and Gale had to rush back to catch their plane back to LA so we put the meal on “hustle” and it was still a lovely night.
The restaurant’s specialty (besides the Singapore Sling which three of us tried at Raffles Long Bar the other night and did not enjoy, $60 US later) was chili crab spaghettini. Chili crab is a Singaporean classic but it usually involves a whole crab. This was just the meat in a spicy chili sauce tossed with perfectly cooked pasta. It was luscious. Three of us ordered it.
Gale had grilled squid and Israeli couscous with habanero coulis and some nuts flavored with kecap manis — a sweet Indonesian soy sauce. The sauce was so good she asked for more.
We all shared a couple of plates of smoky, chewy grilled greens (I recognized asparagus and romaine but there was more) that were absolutely fabulous (see above.)
And while everyone else was finishing their beers, I snuck in dessert. Recommended by ace server Allan it was phenomenal. Frozen ginger nougat filled with bits of caramelized ginger, sheets of sweetened wonton, ginger pineapple compote and ginger crumble. He told me to be sure to get a bite of everything in each mouthful and he was right — a spicy, sweet, creamy, crunchy, chewy ginger explosion!
Great way to end the “Brandt portion” of this fantastic trip we’ve been on. They fly home tonight and we follow in three days. So much more eating to do before we are done!
Here’s The Halia’s Menu: