We had brunch at the Halia Raffles Hotel recently. “Halia” is Malay for ginger and is the name of the restaurant whose main branch is situated in the ginger garden of the Botanic Gardens. We were there many, many years ago and still have some vague but good impression of that meal. We were therefore glad to note that they have decided to open a branch in the city.
Halia Raffles Hotel is at the Seah Street side of the hotel. It occupies the ground floor space formerly used by the Seah Street Deli. The exterior still looks the same but the insides have been transformed from an American diner look to a rustic, country style. With a tree in the middle of the dining hall and some patches of vertical foliage on the wall, it would appear that the Halia folks may have been trying to introduce a bit of the Botanic Gardens to the Raffles Hotel. We would just say that we were not enamoured with the mix-and-match style. There is an outdoor section which retains the Raffles Hotel look, which we prefer.
There is a brunch menu at Halia Raffles Hotel on weekends. On the menu were the usual suspects, but there were some which seemed to be prepared with an Asian influence. We ordered the curry-spiced beef mince rendang ($20), a Halia chilli crab pasta ($26), a Mushroom on Toast ($17), a corned beef hash ($19) and a jug of Halia Sangria ($35).
The sangria was refreshing and got our meal off on a jolly start. A mildly alcoholic concoction of fruity tastes with some hints of lemongrass (and ginger?), the jug had sufficient contents to fill six glasses. We are confident it will put your guests in a good mood.
The corned beef hash was a dish covered by greens and potatoes. The corned beef content was not very high which made this quite a light dish – which was fine with us. More importantly, the taste was good. Some Asian seasoning must have been used (we are not sure what it was, perhaps soy sauce), giving it an unusual but pleasant taste. We have no hesitation in recommending this.
The minced beef rendang looked quite interesting. A layer of minced beef rendang was spread on the sourdough bread. On top of all that is a fried egg. We liked the idea of using beef rendang but the rendang was not robust enough. It tasted more of sweet coconut than the spicy and deep rendang taste that we are used to. A half-hearted recommendation on account of its novelty.
The mushroom on toast had the most unexciting name but was the star of the brunch. It was presented beautifully with a forest of salad on top. This time, the Botanic Garden influence was a successful one. We do not know what type of mushroom was used but they had strong earthy tones. We would definitely order this again.
We had the highest expectations for our final dish at Halia Raffles Hotel. Halia Chilli crab and pasta sounded like a great combi. It bears the restaurant’s name and the “Halia Classic” footnote. You can’t go wrong with this right? Wrong, it turned out to be the under-performer of the day. There was neither crab nor chilli in the taste. More like a sweet curry sauce. We would avoid this at our next visit.
Our brunch at Halia Raffles Hotel was a tale of hits and misses. Somehow it did not seem as good as what we could remember of our meal years ago at the Botanic Gardens. A case of the second-time syndrome?
Smelly patrons will be sentenced to public bathing.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
HALIA Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road, #01-22/23, Raffles Hotel
Tel: +65 9639 1148
Monday to Friday (Except Tuesday & Public Holidays): 12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.00pm – 9.30pm
Saturday: 12.00pm – 10.00pm
Sunday and Public Holiday: 11am – 9.30pm
Brunch: 11.00am – 5.30pm (Sunday & Public Holidays), 12.00pm – 5.30pm (Saturday)
Afternoon Tea: 3pm – 5pm (Weekends & Public Holidays)
Nearby Stations : City Hall, Bras Basah
The Ordinary Patrons
a Singapore food blog by ordinary people looking for places to eat