Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Sun to Thu: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order 10pm)
Fri-Sat and Eve of PH: 12pm to 12am (Last Order 11pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spend like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

OK you guys I finally tried Hararu Izakaya at Bussorah St a couple of weeks ago! (edited to add: ok it’s now become a couple of months ago because I am just the worst and I sat on this review with about 20% to go and it just remained in drafts FOREVER).

Some of you might know I went to Tokyo on holiday in May this year, and came back literally 2 days before Ramadan began. I had an amazing time there eating my absolute weight in sashimi, sushi and even life-changing lobster rolls from Dominique Ansel Bakery (OK lah I’m not so strict which is why I *need* to keep a halal blog to encourage myself to find halal options). Unfortunately I only had time to visit one halal ramen place called Naritaya near the Asakusa shrine, prior to attending the Sanja Matsuri festival. (P.s. it’s not great, but it’ll do if you’re looking for halal food in the area!)

So you can imagine how happy I was at the opening of Hararu Izakaya in late April 2017, the first halal izakaya in Singapore! We’re still some ways away from like, a halal Shinji or even a halal Teppei for that matter, but still this is a welcome step in the right direction! You can read more about the restaurant founders in this article I found online here.

So hilarious fact: Hararu is how the Japanese would pronounce the term “halal”, just like how in Southpark, the (Japanese) people at Sony had a meeting to discuss their “serusu report” (sales report) for the new PlayStation and the launch of their Brack Friday Bunduru (Black Friday Bundle) LOL I died. Loved this episode.

Also, in case you guys didn’t know, the term izakaya refers to a Japanese gastropub, and has its origins in sake shops that allowed its customers to stay and drink on-site (‘”i” means to stay, and “sakaya” refers to sake shop.) So okay lah not super halal origins, but why should seekers of halal food be denied those delicious grilled skewers, right?

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Located on Bussorah St right next to Kampong Glam Cafe and opposite the now-defunct Vintage Delicafe, Hararu Izakaya occupies 2 floors of the shophouse. I made reservations about 5 days in advance and was ushered to the more pleasant upstairs seating – sweet! We were asked to remove our shoes to sit on the tatami mats (don’t worry there’s a depression “moat” in the floor around the table so you sit on the edge and put your legs in, so you’re effectively sitting on a bench instead of cross-legged and risking accidental indecency if you’re wearing a skirt lol). I was so thankful I wore sandals that could be slipped off and on with ease instead of, say, shoes with buckles UGH. Or like sneakers with ratty sockettes lol. Y’all have been warned.

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You sit on the floor and put your legs in the “moat”!

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I assume all mountains in Japanese drawings are Mount Fuji because I don’t know any other names help omg let me read up more so I don’t stay ignorant ugh

We ordered from a digital menu on an ipad attached to the table – I can’t tell you how much I love this. This iPad ordering system is prevalent in Japanese izakayas as it facilitates ordering skewers gradually and incrementally. Love it. Plus you don’t have to keep calling the waitress over to take your order. It’s great, 10/10.

So anyway we started off with the Hotate Turkey Bacon (S$6 for 2 skewers), which features grilled scallop wrapped in turkey bacon. You can choose the version with shio salt dressing or teriyaki sauce dressing, and we tried both:

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Hotate Turkey Bacon on Teriyaki sauce (S$6) – 9/10

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Hotate Turkey Bacon in shio salt (S$6) – 9/10

YUM I really liked these! The scallop tasted fresh and was flavourful, while the turkey bacon really helped raise the umami quotient. I’m a little torn with regards to which dressing is better than the other; it’ll really depend on your mood as the teriyaki dressing can be a little sweet for some but also more juicy than the salt. I’d say a solid 9/10 for both of these.

We were deciding between udon or soba noodles, and eventually decided on the Zaru Soba (S$8). Here’s a definition for you guys taken from Just One Cookbook:

Zaru Soba is a chilled noodle dish made from buckwheat flour and served with soy sauce based dipping sauce called tsuyu (つゆ). The word zaru means “a strainer” in Japanese and the name of the dish was derived from the way the noodles are served over a bamboo strainer during Edo Period.

So I always thought I was more of an udon girl; I find the chewy texture of the thick noodles in hot broth very satisfying and comforting. However, in the past year I’ve been dipping my toes in the proverbial cold soba waters (this metaphor does not work but go with me on it) and I’ve come to really like cold soba as a refreshing, light dish.

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The ones at Hararu, unfortunately, were not great. The soba was too starchy, while the good-quality ones were more refined with a springier, lighter texture. The dipping sauce was just fine, but the noodles are really the star of the show, and to have them be mediocre is a little disappointing. I hope they tweak the texture next time! 5/10

We also had the Negima chicken thigh and leek skewers (S$5 for 2 skewers):

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Negima Chicken Thigh and Leek Skewers (S$5)

YUM. Happy to report these chicken thighs were juicy and well-seasoned, yum! I even ate the leek which had a slightly charred taste yum and wasn’t super oniony YES. Definitely a staple skewer for me. 9/10

We tried to be all healthy and included the Shiitake Negi (S$4 for 2 skewers) in our order so we can say alright we had some vegetables:

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Shiitake Skewer (S$4) – 6.5/10

I confess I am not usually the biggest fan of shiitake, especially in stir fries, but I don’t mind them grilled! That being said, I still found these were pretty average – a little dry and rubbery, although I honestly don’t know if they would’ve been better elsewhere. 6.5/10 I guess!

We also had to try the Gyu Kushi Ponzu (S$10) which were the beef skewers in a citrus + soy sauce glaze (bonus: click here for ponzu recipe):

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Gyu Kushi Ponzu beef skewer (S$10) – 8/10

You will not believe how many times I accidentally typed Ponzi (as in Ponzi scheme) instead of Ponzu in this review lol. Anyway these skewers were just a smidge tougher than I would have liked, but I did enjoy the citrusy-umami flavour of the ponzu dressing. A little steep at S$10 but worth a try if you like your red meats like I do. 8/10

Moving on from the skewers, we tried the Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12 for 6 pieces):

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Yuzu Miso Tebasaki Chicken Wings (S$12) – 7.5/10

These grilled chicken wings (tebasaki literally means wing tips) were not bad – they were savoury and lightly sour, with additional flavour from the sesame seeds and seaweed garnish! While the meat was succulent, I thought the skin could have been either a little juicier, or crisper instead of in-between. 7.5/10

Finally the pièce-de-résistance was the Gyu Nitsuke (S$18) featuring stewed tender beef ribs in some sweet-savoury sauce.

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Gyu Nitsuke beef rib (S$18) – 10/10

OMG GUYSSSSSS this was really good!!! The beef was really so, so tender, and juicy, and packed with flavour!! I swear, it was super succulent and the meat slid right off the bone and onto my chopsticks UNFFFF YASSSSS.

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HNGGGGGGGG gasm.

OK full disclosure – towards the end, it did get just a little bit jelak because the sauce was a little sweet, but thankfully the dish came with some sort of dip on the side which had a hint of wasabi, helping de-cloy the flavour. I’d still rate it 10/10 though!

All in all I had a good time at Hararu Izakaya, although I do think there is room for improvement in the quality of the dishes. Nothing some tweaks and continuous fine-tuning wouldn’t fix. I LOVE the ambience of the 2nd floor seating, and I love the ipad ordering system. I do however wish they would serve more like sashimi stuff (OKAY I KNOW this is a yakitori place ugh I’m sorry but I love sashimi help please send me some).

Also I hate that they do not serve water, and a drink costs you like S$3-6 at this place. I def got a sore throat the next day because of all the skewers and not enough water (my fault for being too cheap to buy mineral water) so either come with a water bottle of your own or be prepared to pay for water (mmmm I just do not agree with paying for water ugh).

Still, looking forward to going back and trying that amazing Gyu Nitsuke beef ribs ugh.

Hararu Izakaya
16 Bussorah St
Singapore 199437
Tel: +65 62915373
Online reservations: Click here
Online menu (no prices tho): Click here

Operating Hours
Sun to Thu: 12pm to 11pm (Last Order 10pm)
Fri-Sat and Eve of PH: 12pm to 12am (Last Order 11pm)

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$44 (omg why do we spending like kings)
Recommended dishes: Hotate Turkey Bacon (Scallop) (S$6), Gyuniku Nitsuke (Stewed Beef Ribs) (S$18), Negima (Chicken & Spring Onion) (S$5)

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Blue Jasmine at Park Hotel Farrer Park

Blue Jasmine
5th Floor, Park Hotel Farrer Park
10 Farrer Park Station Road
Singapore 217564
Tel: +65 6824 8851
Online Reservations: Click here
Nearest MRT Station: Farrer Park (NE8) Exit A

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Recommended dishes: Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20), Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), Glass Noodles (S$16), Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26)

Hey guys! As we speak I’m sitting in a hotel room at the Ritz, where my friends and I are having a staycay for a joint bachelorette party and a farewell party for our friend who’s leaving for London to do her masters! 😭 We’re having some down time now so I thought it would be the perfect time to catch up on my reviews 🙂

Last week I had the privilege of trying out the halal-certified Thai restaurant at Park Hotel Farrer Park called Blue Jasmine. It was my first time going to the hotel, which is situated at Farrer Park MRT station on the Northeast Line (exit A I think?).

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Located on the 5th floor of Park Hotel Farrer Park, Blue Jasmine has both indoor and outdoor seating – indoors is of course comfortable and air conditioned, although in the evenings the al fresco area is also really lovely and romantic!

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Beautiful shadows on the ceiling!

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Super romantic outdoor seating

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Blue Jasmine is helmed by the Malaysian Chef Bright, who spent 8 years cooking in Thailand before coming to Singapore. He brings his pedigree and regional experience to the kitchen, together with his 2 chefs Khun Nipaporn and Khun Donnapa, both of whom hail from Chiang Mai.

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Chef Bright, pictured here with his sous chef Khun Nipaporn (they are so cute together!)

Here’s a look at the menu:

So as you can see, we had a choice of either going for the semi-buffet, in which case we would be served a main and still get to help ourselves to the buffet spread – or, we could go for the à la carte menu. Naturally we tried both options to get a more complete experience.

To kick off the à la carte menu tasting, we first tried the Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), consisting of grilled beef slices in thai herbs and smoked chilli dressing:

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Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20) – 10/10

OK no kidding, this Tiger Cry Beef Salad was SO, so delicious and life-changing. The Australian beef strips were perfectly cooked and totally tender,  filling our mouths with a sweet/spicy/tangy taste with every bite. I could def taste a hint of lime and coriander, which i loved. I can’t emphasize enough how good this dish was ugh please go try it. I was so tempted to finish the whole plate but had to stop myself lest I got way too full to try the other dishes. 10/10

Chef Bright also recommended the Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20) which we tried with the red paste option (as opposed to clear option):

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Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20) – 10/10

Wow guys, this soup was really robust, rich and bursting with flavour! To top things off, it was chockfull of plump prawns and oyster mushrooms. I had no complaints about this soup. 10/10

Next up on the starter list was the Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), featuring minced chicken balls coated in crispy ground rice, roasted with chilli and kaffir lime leaves, and served with a nam jim jeow dip made from Thai crushed red peppers and tamarind:

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Larb Chicken Balls (S$12) – 9/10

Yassss the chicken balls were also really yummy! Underneath the crunchy toasted rice coating, the minced chicken was real juicy and when you dip it in the spicy dip, it just adds more punch. We asked Chef Bright what larb meant (because it sounds frighteningly like lard lol) and he says larb dishes usually comprise some sort of minced meat chopped together with fish sauce, chilli flakes and crispy ground rice. Anyway, loved these chicken balls. 9/10

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Mmm look how juicy

To round off the appetizers we tried the Larb Salmon Salad (S$18) consisting of cured salmon with crushed tomatoes, lemongrass and red shallots tossed in a spicy tamarind dressing and served with puffed rice crackers:

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Larb Salmon (S$18) – 7/10

I really love salmon anything (cured, smoked, raw, grilled, pan-seared, breaded) and while I liked the cured salmon taste, I was not a fan of the shallots because I hate onions and that raw onion taste argh. I like the idea of using the rice crackers as a bed for the salmon, so you eat it like a canapé, but I found these ones a little too thick and unwieldy. Honestly I’d much rather like regular fish keropok or at least a thinner version of these rice crackers. 7/10

From the Rice & Noodles section of the menu, we tried the Glass Noodles (S$16) which came with prawns, asparagus, sea acacia (called cha-om in Thai!) and black fungus mushrooms cooked in fish sauce:

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Glass Noodles (S$16) – 9/10

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Another angle of the Glass Noodles

Ooh the glass noodles have a very good wok hei charred taste and were super flavourful. I loved the different components of the dish – the prawns, which were really fresh and juicy, the noodles themselves, which had a great springy texture, and even the asparagus which lent some crunch and pared down the richness of the noodles. The only thing I didn’t super like was the black fungus, which wasn’t the dried kind and hence were a little jelly-like and tasted strongly of shiitake (not my fave). 9/10

We then tried two different types of curry, the first of which was the Green Curry Chicken (S$24):

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Green Curry Chicken (S$24) – 8/10 (pictured here with the Blue Jasmine rice at the back!)

Hmmm the first thing I noticed was that the curry was not green, but Chef says it’s because he adds a dollop of red curry paste to it so it changes color. Idk, I feel like if you want to call it green curry it should be green, but ok. The second thing I noticed was that the chicken was not de-boned, which was a little disappointing. I know some people like to gnaw on bony chicken but I would rather just like chicken meat in a curry (this is why I love hospital food lol they’re always deboned and balanced and healthy). Apart from these two nitpicks (issa word, trust), I thought the curry was quite good – a little sweet, a little spicy, and not too thick so you don’t get jelak. Also Chef says they use free-range chicken for the green curry, so hurray! 8/10

The second curry we tried was the Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26) served with Blue Jasmine vermicelli:

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Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26) – 9/10

Omg guys I LOVE the blue colour of the vermicelli it’s just so delightful. It could’ve come across as quite gimmicky, but naw man for me it was just really pretty. It helped that the noodles had good bite and springy texture – all too often you get those that are wayyyy too soft and overcooked. The curry itself was thick and rather sweet, with betel leaves adding a nice counterbalance. They were also pretty generous with the portion of crab meat, hidden from plain view underneath all that yellow curry. My friend didn’t like that the curry was almost too sweet, but I didn’t mind it. I suppose you can add some chilli to the soup to your taste. 9/10

Finally we tried the Half Roast Chicken (S$16), which features a North-eastern Thai chicken marinated in spices and served with a smoked chilli dressing:

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Half Roast Chicken (S$16) – 8/10

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Another shot of the chicken with glutinous rice!

Surprisingly I found the chicken to be quite tender and not dry. Paired with the nam jim jeow sauce – which is a little like the black sauce in rojak petis but more spicy and less pungent – the chicken was a delight with every bite. The crispy charred bits of skin around the edges were super yummy and complement the sweet taste of the glazed chicken skin. I have to say though, although it was a good chicken dish, I probably would come back next time and order the more unique dishes like the Tiger Cry Beef Salad or the Crab Meat Yellow Curry. 8/10

By the time we finished the chicken, we were basically dying and bursting at the seams, but still curious to try the Red Ruby (S$12) that was recommended by Chef Bright:

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Red Ruby (S$12) – 9/10

Oh boy, as far as Red Ruby desserts go, this was really quite luxurious. It came with not just red rubies (chestnuts), but also green emeralds and blue topazes lol. I loved crunching on those chestnut gems. There was also some strawberries, blueberries, strips of jackfruit to go with the coconut ice cream, UNFFFFFF. A very decadent dessert that should be shared. 9/10

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YUMMMMMM

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Phew, so we went through all of these dishes from the à la carte menu. Here’s a look at some of the offerings from the buffet, if you’re keen on the semi-buffet deal:

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I love green mango salad omg.

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LOL miang kan? (miang usually means like hum sup in Malay)

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Mmmm ceviche! Super refreshing.

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The mushroom tom yum soup and taro chips from the buffet! Omg the tom yum soup was real tasty with a super spicy kick! And the taro chips in thai tom yum dressing was SO addictive omg I loved them and really had to stop myself from eating so much and spoiling my actual dinner.

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Great for families of 4! (or 8! OR 12?!) I want to bring my family here but my sister-in-law makes 5. I don’t love her that much so I guess I can tell her to wait downstairs HAHA JK ATIQ I KNOW YOU’RE READING THIS.

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The live station which I only noticed on the way out after my meal lol ugh.

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So many desserts omg where got space

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Peep the DIY coconut ice cream section at the top right. Also check out the blue rice in the mango sticky rice! Cute.

All in all I’d say I had a VERY satisfying time at Blue Jasmine, and I will definitely be back here with family and friends to have the delicious Thai food again. Because of the quality of the food and the comfortable ambience, I would also highly recommend it for business lunches or dinner for clients with halal requirements.

Blue Jasmine
5th Floor, Park Hotel Farrer Park
10 Farrer Park Station Road
Singapore 217564
Tel: +65 6824 8851
Online Reservations: Click here
Nearest MRT Station: Farrer Park (NE8) Exit A

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9.5/10
Recommended dishes: Tiger Cry Beef Salad (S$20), Prawn Tom Yum Soup (S$20), Larb Chicken Balls (S$12), Glass Noodles (S$16), Crab Meat Yellow Curry (S$26)

The Halia At Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 259569
Reservations: +65 8444 1148 or general.hsbg@halia.com.sg
Note: Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea
Ramadan Communal Menu: Click here
Ala Carte Menus: Click here

Opening Hours
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 930pm (Last seating)
Fri & PH eve: 12pm to 10pm
Weekends & PH Dinner: 4pm to 10pm (Last seating)
Weekends & PH Brunch: 10am to 4pm
Weekends & PH Afternoon Tea: 3pm to 5pm

Halal status: Halal-certified effective 1 Jun 2017
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Favourite Dishes: Boston Bay Mussels, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemongrass & Ginger Salad
Remarks: Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017, but the featured dishes remain on the ala carte menu thereafter 🙂

Hey guys! So I woke up today to so much drama about the First Family. (You know, the statements by LWL and LHY directed against LHL) – and since then the interwebs have all but exploded with commentaries and analyses. I won’t go too much into it here because I’m still digesting it myself but you guys should totally read all the commentaries online! Honestly I’m a little shook :/

…okay but like is this a food blog or did I accidentally click on The Online Citizen?

LOL YES FOOD so guess what just became halal on 1 June 2017 – The Halia at Botanic Gardens!! I knew a couple of months ago they were gonna go halal – basically one of my girlfriends wanted to host her wedding dinner at The Halia and so the Halia rep told her they were going to convert to a fully halal menu #alhamdulillah LOL. (My other friend low key was forcing me to crack a #TheHalalia joke tsk). After my girlfriend told me about it, I had already planned to try out the new halal menu on my own, but then I got an invitation from the Halia PR people, and that was a nice surprise!

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Exterior

Gorge omg.

Tucked away in the lush foliage of the Ginger Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, The Halia is a beautiful restaurant that is quite unmatched by other dining establishments in its ambience. I have to be honest though, it is not the most public-transport-friendly location; so while it’s all good for car-owners (the carpark is pretty close-by!), it’s a bit of a pain for people like myself. My friend and I took the train to Botanic Gardens on the DTL and then ubered from there, and our Uber driver got a little lost lol so we ended up doing a lot of walking. BUT it’s really just a short uber ride away from Botanic Gardens MRT and the ambience more than makes up for the inaccessibility.

We arrived just in time for dinner and tried out the Halia’s Ramadan Communal Menu for 6 for $270! The menu combines selections from their regular all-day menu so you get to taste more dishes without breaking the bank!

 

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The Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017!

We were seated in the al fresco dining area called the Viewing Deck. I was initially worried about feeling too warm and sweaty but the evening air was cool, and after 2-3 courses, it started feeling super pleasant with the cool air and the gentle breeze from the ceiling fans.

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Viewing Deck

Media photo taken obviously long before Maghrib lol

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Charming lights!

Besides the Viewing Deck, The Halia also has an airconditioned main dining hall with tall ceilings and glass walls. I would seriously recommend making reservations to get seats inside especially if you’re coming with kids (you don’t want to get sweaty tending to them!)

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The interior at the main dining room at the Halia – so beautiful!

OK let’s start from the top. First we had the Soup of the Day, which was the Pumpkin and Carrot Soup:

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Soup of the day – pumpkin and carrot soup! 10/10

Mmmm ok I love all soup but this was also objectively the perfect opener. The flavour is subtle (I love pumpkin but I wouldn’t be a huge fan if the carrot taste were too strong) and the texture is creamy. It’s a good soup that’s not too cloying or thick. Bonus points for pouring it into our bowls on the spot from an old-school metal kettle! 10/10

Next up was the trio of starters – the Halia signature Lemongrass & Ginger Prawn Salad, Potato Fries with piquant mayo, and the Deepfried Salt & Chilli Squid with a ginger-lime syrup dip and piquant mayo.

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Lemongrass & Ginger Prawn Salad: Oh boy I loved this and I suppose it’s with good reason this is one of their signature dishes! The prawns were phenomenal – fresh, juicy and flavourful. It was altogether a great combination of spicy and coconutty with a hint of ginger. One of the diners wasn’t a huge fan of ginger, and even she found this dish delicious because there was only a hint of ginger. There’s also cubes of juicy, sweet mangoes accompanying the prawns, making this a great salad even for someone like me who’s not naturally predisposed towards salads. 10/10. 

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A closer look at this phenoms prawn salad argh YUMMMMM that slight char thooooooo 💯

Potato Fries: This was decent but nothing to write home about. The piquant mayo though, was delicious! Piquant, by the way, means spicy in French (This is obviously the precise reason I learned French, so I can decode fancy food names lol). I’m not a fan of regular mayo – ugh, that slick, oily texture and that middle-of-the-road taste – just, NOOO. But this piquant mayo is smokey, slightly spicy and really adds oomph to the otherwise ordinary fries. 7.5/10

Deep-fried Salt and Chilli Squid: I was pretty excited about this but after tasting it I felt this was the weakest link on the menu. The squid was only okay – the batter was very, very light and on its own the squid came off a little bland and unimpressive. The ginger-lime syrup dip was not to my liking – it was watery and sweet, and maybe my McDonald’s-friendly palette wasn’t refined enough to appreciate the taste 😕 So again, the piquant mayo dip was the star of this dish. 6/10

Next up was the Fresh Boston Bay Mussels with coconut and ginger flower broth, chilli, lime and freshly-made grilled foccaccia:

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Fresh Boston Bay Mussels in coconut and ginger flower broth!! SEDAP OR WHAT OMG 10/10

You guys, these mussels are amazing and out of this world. Literally, the mussels are so juicy and plump and fresh, and the broth is so tasty it’s like a cross between tom yum and laksa broth ARGH I LOVE. It’s tough to find good mussels at halal places – I honestly can’t name one because the good ones I’ve eaten have tended to be from non-halal places. This is definitely a welcome change and I would for sure come back again to Halia for these mussels alone. 20/10 if I could defy the laws of mathematics but ok let’s settle for 10/10 for now.

Served at the same time as the mussels was the Panfried Barramundi on a bed of pignolina mini pasta in thai coconut cream, asparagus and cherry tomatoes:

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Panfried Barramundi – oof look at the char on the asparagus!! 👅💦 7.5/10

Ok the barramundi was super fresh and the meat was tender, while the crispy skin was a delight to bite into. Full marks for the fish. However, I found the pasta a little too creamy; it got pretty jelak after a few mouthfuls. I wish they wouldn’t make the sauce quite so thick, especially since the pignolina pasta is tiny and the sauce wholly coats each and every single one of them. LOVED the asparagus and the cherry tomatoes though. 7.5/10

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Couple photo

We moved on from the intermediate dishes to the mains, the first of which was the Slow-cooked Tender Chicken Breast & Braised Minced Leg Potato Gratin:

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Slow-cooked Tender Chicken Breast – 7/10

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Braised minced chicken leg potato gratin – 7.5/10

So the chicken breast was really, really tender, as befits chicken that’s been cooked using the sous-vide method. Flavour-wise though I didn’t get much from this dish. As for the braised minced (chicken) leg potato gratin, it was a riot – the moment we had a forkful, we were hit with a sense of familiarity and spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out what it tasted like! We started out with begedil (those Malay potato balls) and ended up deciding it was most like shepherd’s pie LOL. It was very flavourful, but I thought it was way too rich and slightly too sweet for me. Not altogether catastrophic, and nothing a few tweaks couldn’t fix. 7/10

We moved on to the Tajima Wagyu Skirt Steak with a marbling score of 7-8 (I tend to go for 7), served with potato gratin dauphinoise & mushroom jus (you know how I feel about jus I LOVE EM).

The_Halia_Tajima_Wagyu_Steak

So when we heard the name Tajima wagyu, everyone was guilty of making terrible Hana Tajima for Uniqlo jokes, including yours truly lol. Mostly though we were just really excited to try halal wagyu beef – there’s def not enough establishments here in Singapore that do it! The last time I had halal wagyu beef was in KL at Las Vacas :/

The skirt steak had a nice char and I was all over it like white on rice! It was juicy, tender, and had great flavour even without the jus. The dauphinoise potato gratin however was SO oniony I left it alone after one bite. 8.5/10 with half a point docked for the overwhelming onion taste!

For the final main we had another one of The Halia’s signature dishes, the Halia’s Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini in spicy, sweet and tangy sauce:

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My photo of the Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini – 9/10

Chilli Crab Spaghettini

The press photo of the Chilli Crab Spaghettini LOL I think mine wasn’t too shabby in comparison

Did you guys know the Chilli Crab Spaghettini was created all of 13 years ago? Gosh so much history behind this dish. You can say they were the pioneers of the chilli crab pasta which is pretty ubiquitous nowadays.

I thought this was a solid offering – the spaghettini was perfectly al dente and coated in the chilli crab sauce which was robust, full-bodied, and flavourful. However – and maybe this was just a one-off thing – I thought the sauce was a smidge too sweet for me. Just dial down the sweetness and we’d have a great pasta dish. 9/10

Oof after all that it was time for dessert. We had the Sticky Toffee Pudding first, which came with butterscotch sauce, sea salt and vanilla ice cream:

The_Halia_Sticky_Toffee_Pudding

UNFFFFFFF Sticky Toffee Pudding 10/10 omg

Good grief you guys this was far and away the best dessert I’ve had in a while. The sponge cake – made from dates – was so moist and delicious, and the combination of the butterscotch sauce with the sea salt was absolutely heavenly. The contrasting sweet and salty tastes just made this dish perfect without being too jelak. Add vanilla ice cream to the mix and you’ve got yourself a veritable mouth party once again. This was so, so good and I’ll def come back for more. 10/10

The next dessert was the cheekily-named Die Die Must Have Chocolate, comprising chocolate “elements” (fancy name for morsels?), raspberries, raspberry sorbet and a surprise ingredient – gasp – pop rocks candy!! OMG I love those?!

The_Halia_Die_Die_Must_Have_Chocolate

Die Die Must Have Chocolate – this terrible photo doesn’t do this delightful dessert any justice I’m so sorry 9.5/10

Oh wow I was very impressed by this dish! The chocolate pieces were perfect and not overly sweet, while the juicy, juicy raspberries added a nice tang to the dish. Also how can you not love the sensation of popping candy rocks in your mouth?!  As a side note here’s some trivia about pop rocks candy, but ok back to business – I loved this fun dish. 9.5/10

Last but not least there was the Ginger Spice, All Things Nice which was made up of coconut mousse, compressed pineapple and shavings of dehydrated coconut flesh:

The_Halia_Ginger_Spice_Dessert

Ginger Spice, All Things Nice (Don’t be alarmed that green mossy-looking thing is pistachio crumble and it actually tasted pretty alright) – 7.5/10

With its distinctive Southeast Asian features, this dessert was a little less conventional than the first 2. I LOVED the pineapple which was juicy and sweet with a hint of ginger spice, BUT the coconut mousse was just okay for me. I would definitely stick to the Sticky Toffee Pudding if I had to choose! 7.5/10

WHEW! That was a trip and a half, wasn’t it? Thank you for reading all of that with me LOL. I had a great time at The Halia and I will definitely come back with my friends to share! It works out to $45++ per person for all that food, whether you have the 4-pax or 6-pax set. I also asked if more people could share, let’s say if 5 or 6 girls with smaller appetites could order the 4-pax set to share, and the PR folks said yes this is possible! The Ramadan communal menu runs till 30 June so go get some before it ends!

P.S. There is a (unisex) prayer room right across from the Viewing Deck with a sink for ablution, but it fits only one person at a time so do take note!

The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden (enter via Tyersall Avenue)
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore 259569
Reservations: call +65 8444 1148 or email general.hsbg@halia.com.sg
Note: Reservations not accepted for brunch and tea

Opening Hours
Mon-Thu: 12pm to 930pm (Last seating)
Fri & PH eve: 12pm to 10pm
Weekends & PH Dinner: 4pm to 10pm (Last seating)
Weekends & PH Brunch: 10am to 4pm
Weekends & PH Afternoon Tea: 3pm to 5pm

Halal status: Halal-certified effective 1 Jun 2017
Halalicious Rating: 9/10
Favourite Dishes: Boston Bay Mussels, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemongrass & Ginger Salad
Remarks: Ramadan Communal Menu runs till 30 June 2017, but the featured dishes remain on the ala carte menu thereafter

Iftar Ramadan Seafood Buffet at The Holiday Inn Atrium

Iftar Ramadan Seafood Extravaganza
Atrium Restaurant
Level 4, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium
317 Outram Road
Singapore 169075
Reservations: +65 6731 7172

Remarks: Prayer room available from 630pm onwards!

27 May – 2 July 2017
Sun to Thu: S$90++ per adult | Fri to Sat: S$100++ per adult (before 1-for-1 discount)*
Child (12 years and under): $25++ per person

(*Enjoy 1-for-1 discount for every 2 adult diners! Dine in a group of 10 and receive a complimentary car park coupon!)

Hey guys!! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted anything up in forever 😦 I’ve been travelling quite a bit for both work and leisure so that usually throws my schedule way off. ANYWAY Ramadan kareem to all of you!! Can you believe it’s already Day 7?! Help I’m still not spiritually at my best UGH. But anyway I hope you guys are doing great. I’ve been trying to keep up my prayers, keep up the yoga classes/runs, and eat healthier sahurs (pre-dawn meal) — I try to be all healthy with overnight oats and blueberries but then my family whips out like freshly-fried popcorn chicken and it is GAME OVER. It’s #strugglecity outcheah.

Of course, the only reason I try to eat healthy for sahur is so that I can eat whatever I feel like for iftar – and that is exactly what I did this past Tuesday at the Iftar Ramadan Seafood buffet dinner at the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Promo_Poster

You guys, in all seriousness, there is SO MUCH seafood you guys will die. I know $90-100++ per adult sounds steep, but there is a 1-for-1 promo for every 2 adult diners so that’s like $45-50++ per diner, which is really a bargain.

Let me take you through what I had that night so you get an idea of what you’re gonna get!

I usually break my fast with a date, and they had a whole salad bowl of ’em:

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Dates

A must. Did you actually iftar if you didn’t eat a date?

After a date I moved on swiftly to the cold seafood starters, namely the half-lobsters, the fresh prawns, and some salmon and tuna sashimi!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Cold_Seafood_Starters

UGHHHH SO YUMMY I NEED TO GO BACK

So let me just remind you – lobster rolls at other establishments in Singapore can come up to an insolent S$68. Here you eat them fresh and you can have more if you want! I loved it. The prawns were also super juicy with a hint of sweetness and good bite. And seriously tho the sashimi portion is insane – just go up to the sashimi station and they’ll slice it for you!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Salmon_Sashimi

Can’t resist salmon sashimi plz help

Next I had some oysters which were so painfully delicious, just thinking about them now is making me drool a little UGH. The trick is to squeeze some lemon, add just a drop of tabasco and slurp up that deliciousness!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Oysters

I’m sorry I know they look gross but they are so yum!

Quick story – I went to France on exchange when I was 16 and my host family very generously bought some fresh oysters for me to try. I put one in my mouth and then had to run to the kitchen to spit it out! What a loser 😦 15 years later I have fully gone over to the other side, and to this day I still look back on that moment with regret ugh.

ANYWAY what I meant to say was – strong start with the cold seafood!

Things got way serious though when we moved on to the chilli crab and salted egg lobster claw!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Chilli_Crab

UNFFFFFFFFFFF deadddddddd

The juicy, fresh crab meat and the super fluffy mantou buns were really the star of this dish. I felt like the chilli crab sauce lacked a little something, like maybe it wasn’t as tasty as I wanted it to be, but it was still decent. Just remember to make space for the mantou buns guys they are WORTH IT.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Buffet_Lobster_Claw_Crab

I waited a while before eating my salted egg lobster claw, which resulted in it drying out a little as it sat on the plate. Boo! I would counsel that you guys eat it right away after taking it from the food station! I wish they had more salted egg sauce slathered on those claws though; that would’ve helped.

After stuffing my face with so much seafood I wanted to switch it up so I went to the Atrium Terrace right outside where these 2 guys were in charge of barbecuing whatever you picked out! – lamb chops, chicken thighs, otak-otak, corn (sorry corn ain’t nobody got time for you) – the works.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Outdoor_BBQ

Argh that view tho!!! It was perfect for sunset.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Grilled_Meats

I wish they had grilled lobster tho.

The lambchop was juicy but I wish the marinade was a little stronger/tastier. The otak-otak was good but also just a little dry.

No matter, because I moved on to the indoor meat station where they had some lamb marinated in its own jus, and you guys know I love anything with fancy jus in it (it just means juice in French).

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Lamb_Station

This is a terrible photo that does not do the meat justice, I’m so sorry. I’m the worst with photos 😦

OMG loved the lamb!! It was super juicy and tender, and went surprisingly well with the mint sauce, better than the mustard! YUM. I suppose mustard goes better with beef. Don’t skip the lamb guys.

I wanted so much to be greedy and stuff my face with more lobster and oysters and crab, but after all that food before, I was pretty much ready to move on to dessert.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Dessert

Clockwise from left: Earl grey tea (lol so step), Thai milk tea and cookies & cream ice-cream, fruits in chocolate fondue, marshmallows in chocolate fondue, and chendol which was very poorly made by me

They had SO much to offer for dessert! There was a chendol station with a DIY ice machine and all the ingredients like green chendol jelly, red beans, attap seeds, corn, gula melaka syrup and coconut milk in neat little bowls. Just take whichever ingredients you want, press the machine button and pile on the shaved ice! Then you can drizzle as much sizzurrppppp as you want.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_More_Dessert

A closer look at my anemic chendol 😦 I should’ve added more syrup

They also had an assortment of mini cakes, fruits (yuck get away from me I have limited stomach space) and a chocolate fondue with marshmallows, dried apricots, and apples. I REALLY liked the chocolate sauce omg it was delicious and I could’ve had literally 3 more bowls of it with marshmallows but I stopped myself ugh.

Oh and there’s also GELATO omg.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Gelato_Ice_Cream

Thai Milk Tea, Chocolate Rocky Road, Vanilla Pods, Strawberry Cheesecake, Cookies & Cream, Mocha Biscotti and Salted Caramel!

OK I LOVED my Thai Milk Tea ice cream!!! It was creamy and full-bodied and not overly sweet in my opinion (although, to be fair I have a sweet tooth). I didn’t try the rest except for my friend’s Cookies & Cream which is pretty standard, but I’m sure they’d all be equally good.

I left the buffet feeling so, so stuffed and satisfied. It was a very pleasant experience as the layout was pretty well-spaced and it wasn’t crowded. The food was always topped up and the staff were very attentive and always ready to clear plates or see to your request for ice (for the Bandung!) or more napkins etc. I might come back here again if I have time – I’d really like more of those oysters and the chocolate fondue UGH.

I’ll leave you guys with more photos of the buffet offerings – there was so much I really could not try more than half of what was there!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Salads_Sushi

Yum, assorted salads and sushi!

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Salmon_Oyster

Salmon and squash YUM. Peep the oysters just chillin’ at the back.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Lobster_Prawns

The best

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Keropok_Crackers

FOUR TYPES OF KEROPOK omg the papadum was my favourite omg it was mad crispy and tasty.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Noodle_Station

A noodle station with assorted ingredients and condiments! I wish they had other types of noodles though I much prefer rice noodles to yellow noodles

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Lobster_Paella

HI THIS IS LOBSTER PAELLA

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Grilled_Fish

Grilled Fish in Lemon Butter Sauce! In hindsight I should’ve def taken this 😦 I might go back and if I do I WILL.

Holiday_Inn_Atrium_Aloo_Gobi

Aloo gobi, an Indian dish with cauliflower and potatoes in spices!

One last thing – there’s a prayer room called the Foyer Room just a few steps away from the entrance of Atrium Restaurant, for diners to catch Asar/Maghrib. Just ask the front of the house and they will be happy to guide you to it!  The room has both male and female sections, with hotel slippers and prayer mats. Unfortunately there is no adjoining wudhu area, but the restroom is also right opposite the Atrium Restaurant entrance. For ladies who require telekung, please bring your own as the room does not have them!

Iftar Ramadan Seafood Extravaganza
Atrium Restaurant
Level 4, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium
317 Outram Road
Singapore 169075
Reservations: +65 6731 7172

Remarks: Prayer room available from 630pm onwards!

27 May – 2 July 2017
Sun to Thu: S$90++ per adult | Fri to Sat: S$100++ per adult (before 1-for-1 discount)*
Child (12 years and under): $25++ per person

(*Enjoy 1-for-1 discount for every 2 adult diners! Dine in a group of 10 and receive a complimentary car park coupon!)

Hyde & Co on North Bridge Road II

Hyde & Co
785 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198753
Reservations: +65 6635 5785
Online brunch/lunch menu: Click here
Online dinner menu: Click here
Remarks: No gst/service charge

Opening Hours
Sun-Mon: 11am to 6pm
Wed-Sat: 11am to 1030pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating (for this visit): 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~S$33 for a shared starter and dessert, and one main
Recommended dishes: New Zealand Little Neck Clams (S$12), Nasi Lemak Risotto (S$21)

Hey guys! Day 5 Ramadan, and I’m feeling good about this holy month so far! Sure, I’m severely sleep deprived since I’ve been waking up to sahur (have my pre-dawn meal), and then praying subuh prayers before getting ready for work. Previously I would go back to sleep for 1-2 hours but last year when I did that it was SO hard for me to wake up! I inevitably overslept and had to Uber to work a total of 9 times 😦 #neveragain

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago I tried out Hyde & Co’s dinner menu for the first time, after having brunched there twice before. You can read my previous review of brunch at Hyde & Co here.

As a reminder, here’s a look at both the Brunch and Dinner menus:

Hyde & Co - Brunch Menu

The Brunch Menu

Hyde & Co - Drinks Menu

The Drinks Menu

Hyde & Co - Dinner Menu

The Dinner Menu

I was dyingggg to try the New Zealand Little Neck Clams (S$12) in red sauce, which is made with tomato cream, roasted mushroom, garlic, lemon juice, and topped with cilantro. (Obviously the cilantro did it for me. Who cares about the white sauce!!)

Hyde & Co - New Zealand Little Neck Clams

New Zealand Little Neck Clams (S$12) – My beautiful plump little babies!! 10/10

YUMMMM you guys. You know how much I love clams right? (Do you? Read my Penang Culture reviews if you ain’t convinced. I was worried I was going to be disappointed, but my word, the clams here blew me away!!! Guyssss. They were so plump and juicy and fresh!! The sauce was also perfect – a little tangy, a little savoury, a little earthy. Super delish. I do not even understand why other places cannot make clams THIS good. 10/10 but let it be said I almost docked a half-point because I wished the portion was bigger.

For my main dish I had, haaaad, to try the Nasi Lemak Risotto (S$21), a daring modern take on good old nasi lemak. The background of this story, as told by Chef Nazz himself, was that he was issued a challenge to come up with a new dish for the menu. Coincidentally his mum, who runs a catering business, was preparing nasi lemak one evening as he was waiting for inspiration and lo, there it was.

Hyde & Co - Nasi Lemak Risotto

Nasi Lemak Risotto (S$21) – 9/10

I must say, I really loved it, both in taste and concept. The fresh prawns were coated in delicious sambal that was a mix of sweet and spicy, just how nasi lemak sambal should be. The risotto had really good bite, and had a coconutty taste with a hint of lemongrass. I know some people would be anathema to paying $21 for what amounts to an ‘atas nasi lemak’ which they could’ve otherwise gotten for $5, but I delight in the creativity of this dish. There is a mix of both irreverence and respect for the revered Nasi Lemak. Go try it soon guys! 9/10

For dessert, since I’d had the Ondeh-ondeh French Toast during my last couple of brunch visits, we went for the Butterscotch Popcorn Waffle (S$14):

Hyde & Co - Butterscotch Popcorn Waffle

Butterscotch Popcorn Waffle (S$14) – 6.5/10

As much as I think Chef Nazz is super talented, I have to admit this dessert fell flat for me. The popcorn was a net negative, generally quite dry and flavourless. I thought the banana was not terribly special either, perhaps they could have flambéed it or something to bring the flavour out and make the texture more mushy? I’m def not a culinary expert by any measure, but I know I did not enjoy this dish as it came.  Also: more butterscotch please! 6.5/10, with deepest regrets.

Disappointing though the dessert was, I thoroughly enjoyed the clams and the nasi lemak risotto. I will definitely keep going back to Hyde & Co to try more of the menu (The Steak Frites!!). I think every menu is bound to have one or two duds, but the rest of the stuff are just really so, so good. OK I have to stop talking about food now because it’s torturous (currently 1.40pm on a Friday afternoon boohoo!) Have a good weekend you guys!

Hyde & Co
785 North Bridge Road
Singapore 198753
Reservations: +65 6635 5785
Online brunch/lunch menu: Click here
Online dinner menu: Click here
Remarks: No gst/service charge

Opening Hours
Sun-Mon: 11am to 6pm
Wed-Sat: 11am to 1030pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating (for this visit): 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~S$33 for a shared starter and dessert, and one main
Recommended dishes: New Zealand Little Neck Clams (S$12), Nasi Lemak Risotto (S$21)

Flava Bistro at East Coast Road

Flava Contemporary Asia Bistro & Grill
01-03, 907 E Coast Rd
Singapore 459107
Online menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Tue-Thu: 11am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 1am
Sun: 9am to 10pm
Closed on Mondays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9/10
Average spend per pax: S$40

I’ve been on a mission to introduce my family to more food options outside of our Arab St comfort zone, so yesterday for lunch, I brought them to the newly-halal Flava Bistro at Upper East Coast Road. I’d had some snacks here a few weeks ago when they were in the process of getting their halal cert, and remember being really impressed by what little I had, so I figured I should come back for real real.

Flava Bistro - Ambience 3

Warm lighting and a pleasing aesthetic

Flava Bistro - Ambience 2

Booth seats for 4 pax

For starters, we shared the Prawn Paste Chicken Wings (6 pieces for S$8):

Flava Bistro - Prawn Paste Chicken

Prawn Paste Chicken (S$8) – SO GOOD 9/10

Right from the time the waitress served us this plate of chicken wings, we knew we were in for a treat. The intoxicating smell of the prawn paste was irresistible, and we could already see the accompanying achar on the side, which was really a bonus. I LOVE ACHAR (crying emoji).

The chicken wings tasted as good as they smelled, which is to say they were fantastic and very flavourful. I did find them sliiightly on the oily side, and wish they had been strained a little better. Otherwise, exceptional, and a steal at S$8++. 9/10

For my main I opted for one of the Chef’s specialty, the Seafood Laksa Pesto (S$16), which consisted of linguine, clams and prawns sautéed in a fusion of Peranakan laksa spices and Italian pesto.

Flava Bistro - Seafood Laksa Pesto Pasta 2

Seafood Laksa Pesto (S$16) – 9/10

Flava Bistro - Seafood Laksa Pesto Pasta

YUMMMMMMMM

So to break this down into pros and cons, let me just start with the cons. Firstly, the menu indicated there would be fishcake in this dish, but I didn’t have any, so that was a little disappointing. Secondly, the clams did not taste super fresh, they were a bit dehydrated and tasted of nothing. Thirdly and less importantly, the linguine was JUST a shade overcooked, but I really didn’t mind that, so that’s fine.

The pros lie in the abundant prawns and the delicious, delicious taste of the laksa spice combined with the Italian pesto. It was really flavourful – just spicy enough without being too fiery – and I could taste the dried shrimp in the sauce, which was just heavenly.  I counted about 7 plump prawns in the whole thing, which is great because I love prawns. I wish there had been squid though. 9/10

My mum got another chef’s specialty, the Chili Crab Linguine (S$16), which consisted of linguine tossed in with the FLAVA signature chili crab sauce, and topped with generous chunks of chili crab meat:

Flava Bistro - Chili Crab Linguine

Chili Crab Linguine (S$16) – 7.5/10

My mum really liked it, but personally I found the sauce just a tad sweet, and too tomatoey for my liking. I loved the generous chunks/flakes of white crab meat though. 7.5/10

My sister-in-law went for the Balinese Beef Stew (S$22), also a chef’s special item, consisting of slow-braised Angus beef brisket, potatoes, and other root veggies in a special blend of Balinese herbs and spices, serbied with a choice of country bread or golden turmeric rice:

Flava Bistro - Balinese Beef Stew Closeup

Balinese Beef Stew (S$22) – 8.5/10

Wow, you guys. The beef brisket was SO, so tender and absolutely melted in the mouth! Props for that good beef. The stew was tasty and robust, a little bit like an upgraded mutton soup. The chunks of potato and carrot were soft and delicious. We opted for the bread, which was basically ciabatta, and pretty average. The stew itself was far and away the star of the show. At S$22 though I did think it was just a little pricey given the portion. 8.5/10

My brother got the Bacon Cheeseburger (S$18), essentially 180gms of juicy all-Angus beef patty, beef bacon, swiss cheese and FLAVA beef sauce, with the usual accoutrements like tomato and lettuce with a side of coleslaw and fries.

Flava Bistro - Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger (S$18) – 10/10!!

UM YOU GUYS. This burger!!! Was a revelation. No sooner had I taken a bite of it than the taste absolutely exploded in my mouth. Yes, it was a mouth party. The patty was so thick and juicy, with a great consistency that wasn’t too minced or berderai. The Swiss cheese added a slight bitter but delicious taste, while the beef bacon was actually quite moist and salty. LOVED IT ALL. The bun was also soft which a slightly chewy texture, like all perfect burger buns. 10/10

Just a note about the fries – these too were awesome. Very crispy on the outside but mushy on the inside, just how I like my fries. Perffff.

My other brother had the Asian Crusted Lamb Chops (S$26), which comprised turmeric and basil-crusted grilled lamb chops, served with Asian potato croquettes (alah fancy begedil, you know lah):

Flava Bistro - Asian Crusted Lamb Chops

Asian Crusted Lamb Chops (S$26)

Sorry the photo is so blurry! Pretty sure I got grease on my iPhone camera lens :/ Anyway so I’m not a fan of the breading around the lamb chops because that takes away from the flavour and the juiciness of the meat itself, but that’s what the sauce in the middle is for. It tasted rather like satay sauce, which is good and all but I’d rather just have satay then. I had a bite of the lamb and thought it was just a little overdone, and slightly dry. Not my favourite dish of the day, sorry! 7/10

I didn’t have any dessert because by the end of the mains I felt wayyyy full and just could not stuff myself anymore, although my family happily went ahead with an assortment of desserts ugh no.

All in all I had a really great time at Flava bistro. Service was super pleasant, smiley, and accommodating (you know how it gets sometimes with family meals). The food was very impressive and surpassed my expectations. Ambience was lovely, and quiet, what a gem of a place. I will def come back again next time in spite of the distance.

Brunch/Lunch menu:

 

Dinner menu:

 

Flava Contemporary Asia Bistro & Grill
01-03, 907 E Coast Rd
Singapore 459107
Online menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Tue-Thu: 11am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 1am
Sun: 9am to 10pm
Closed on Mondays

Halal status: Halal-certified
Halalicious rating: 9/10
Average spend per pax: S$40

So Pho at Novena Square / Paragon

So Pho
B1-20, The Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859
Tel: +65 6235 0414

Opening Hours
Daily 11am to 10pm

Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Halal status: Halal-certified
Average spend per pax: S$16 including drinks
Recommended dishes: Summer roll (S$4.80), Beef Pho (S$8.80)

I was delighted to find out So Pho, a Vietnamese chain in Singapore, had gotten its halal certification a few months ago. There is a branch in Paragon, which is pretty central for those looking for halal food in the area, and also others at NEX, Tampines Mall, JEM, and Novena Square. For branch details, you can check out their website here.  To date, I’ve tried the Paragon and Novena branches so the photos are going to be a mixture of both locations’.

My favourite starter is the Summer Rolls with Prawns and Lemongrass Chicken (S$4.80 for 3), and they cut the 3 rolls into halves so you effectively get 6 mini-bites! Yum!

So Pho Summer Rolls Closeup 2

SO PRETTY!!! We’d eaten 3 halves by this point – too hungry, and too good ❤

I really like this starter since it’s pretty healthy and not fried or overly processed. The rice wrap has a good texture – slightly elastic so it holds the ingredients well, but tender and not dry – and thanks to the vegetables there is a satisfying crunch when you bite into it. The Vietnamese dipping sauce that comes with the rolls is also top notch – I’m guessing some fish sauce in it too, so it is nice and savoury. 9/10

My go-to main at So Pho is the Pho Bo, or Sliced Beef Noodles (S$8.80):

So Pho - Beef Brisket Pho

The hot pho broth is umami and super comforting on days when you just want something soupy and delicious. The pieces of coriander are heaven. HEAVEN! I love coriander. I also find it a must to squeeze as much lime into the broth – it is much more refreshing when there is a great tang contrasting with the soup. Ditto for the cut chilli padi – it gives the soup a slight kick. The beansprouts though, can step to the left.

So Pho - Beef Pho

The beef slices are great too – they’re not overcooked and tough, but slightly pink and tender. I think you get the odd sinewy piece or two if you’re unlucky, but otherwise, can’t complain. 8.5/10

I was delighted to find that So Pho serves the famous Hanoi delicacy, Cha Ca La Vong (S$10.80, pronounced chah-gah-lah-vong). It consists of hotplate fish fillets served with some dill, and a plate of rice vermicelli noodles on the side:

So Pho - Cha Ca Vermicelli Noodles

I was slightly disappointed with this dish because the original version in Hanoi comes with a bowl of fish sauce, which you mix in with the noodles and some peanuts, so you can calibrate the ingredients and tastes to your own liking. However, So Pho’s version did not actually come with the fish sauce – just a bowl of watery chilli sauce (pictured), and the dill is just placed on top of the fish.

The fish tasted a little too oily and slightly soggy for my taste, but I reckon it could have been sitting out on the counter for a little too long. I wish the fish and the sauce could have been tastier and more savoury too, but maybe I’ll give this a go at the Novena branch next time. 7/10 for now.

On another visit, I also tried the Vietnamese Fried Rice with Seafood (S$9.80):

So Pho - Special Seafood Rice

This was a mistake guys; one that would surely teach me for ordering fried rice at an establishment with Pho in its name. It’s not that it was really bad – it was just pretty average. It was a little bland, and there was just not enough flavour or ingredients to keep me satisfied. For this price I could get two plates of amazing fried rice from Cahaya. Or, a plate of ayam penyet and a drink! Bottomline: Stick with the pho! 7/10

Overall I would definitely go back to So Pho because of the simplicity and freshness of the summer rolls, and the comforting pho. The food is pretty affordable (most mains under $$10) and of decent quality. I’ll end off with some extra photos for you guys to enjoy 🙂

So Pho - Mixed Appetizer

The Mixed Appetizer (S$10.80) – Prawn Cakes, Summer Rollsm and Fried Spring Roll

So Pho - Table Spread

The spread during one of the visits

So Pho - Menu PhoSo Pho - Specials menuSo Pho - Fried Noodles Menu

So Pho
B1-20, The Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859
Tel: +65 6235 0414

Opening Hours
Daily 11am to 10pm

Halalicious Rating: 8/10
Halal status: Halal-certified
Average spend per pax: S$16 including drinks
Recommended dishes: Summer roll (S$4.80), Beef Pho (S$8.80)