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!

 

Halia Communal Menu for Ramadan 2017-2

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

The_Halia_Ceiling_Lights

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!)

The Halia at Singapore Botanic Gardens Dining Room

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:

The_Halia_Pumpkin_Carrot_Soup

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.

The_Halia_Starters

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. 

The_Halia_Lemongrass_Ginger_Prawn_Salad

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:

The_Halia_Fresh_Boston_Bay_Mussels

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:

The_Halia_Pan-fried_Barramundi

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

The_Halia_Mussels_Barramundi

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:

The_Halia_Slow-Cooked_Chicken_Breast

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

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Krave on Bali Lane II

Krave
28 Bali Lane
Singapore
Reservations: +65 9856 4249
Remarks: Cash-only, no gst, no service charge

Opening Hours
Tue-Thu & Sun: 1130am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 1130am-11pm
Closed Mondays
Kitchen is closed between 5-6pm

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious Rating: 9.5/10
Average spend per pax:~S$23
Recommended dishes: Steak ‘n’ Chips (S$25), Kraving Ayam Bakar ($18), Kurry Kremoso (S$18)

Hey guys! I know, I have been SO absent. Life has been a little crazy, with year-end holidays, tying up loose ends at work prior to said holidays, and of course, the horror of the impending inauguration of Trump as POTUS on 20 Jan 2017.

I’m not sure about you guys but I’ve been reading probably way too many commentaries and articles about Trump and his family, with their attendant conflicts of interests (business vs government). I came across this ABSOLUTELY ABSORBING feature on his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump.  I can’t even begin to summarize its extensive breadth of coverage, so please go read it!! It’s really insightful and fascinating. (A little bit of trivia – Jared is the older brother of Josh Kushner, a venture capitalist who also happens to be dating supermodel Karlie Kloss, lol.)

Aaaanyway, I digress. Back to the matter at hand – I recently went back to Krave cafe on Bali Lane for a catch-up dinner with one of my friends who lives in New York came back to Singapore for a quick visit.

The menu has changed a little since the last time I was there, so here is a look:

 

As usual, I got the Steak ‘n’ Chips (S$25) in medium:

Krave - Steak and Chips

Steak ‘n’ Chips (S$25) – 10/10

img_4763

Comes with steak-cut fries, grated cheese, a side salad, a cup of jus and a cup of chilli sauce.

Krave - Steak cut

PERRRRFECTLY DONE – LOOK AT THAT PINK! SO JUICY UGH

I don’t know how they do it but the steak is always so juicy, and so tender. I never ever encounter any tendons or tough bits, they must use super-quality meat. The jus is as usual super tasty and great for dipping chunks of meat/fries into. 10/10

As an aside, I know some of you like your steak well-done, but you’re missing out on the juiciness of a perfect medium steak!! Trust me, it is life-changing. A well-done steak is an overcooked steak, so the juices are all dried up and the meat will invariably be tough. Give medium it a try one day. Maybe you start with baby steps; from well-done you go to medium-well, and then you transition to medium. See how you feel about it, who knows you might be won over by the change!

Anyway so one of us got the Kurry Kremoso (S$16) which is curry chicken pasta, essentially:

Krave - Kurry Kremoso

Kurry Kremoso ($16) – 9.5/10

Yum, we all had a taste of this and I really liked it – the curry was rich but not overly heavy. It was adequately spicy (as forewarned by the one chilli icon next to the listing on the menu) and they were generous with the chunks of chicken breast meat. A solid pasta dish at 9.5/10.

Another one of us was craving laksa, so she ordered the Laksa Sayang Eh! (S$18), a terrible but hilarious play on the Malay folk song Rasa Sayang Eh:

Krave - Laksa Sayang Eh!

Laksa Sayang Eh! (S$18) – 7.5/10

While they were generous in topping this dish with plump prawns, this was not well-rated by my friend – primarily because she found that the tough, al dente penne did not go well with the laksa sauce. I’m not sure if this is due to her overwhelming craving for real laksa, but she did not like the texture so much. (To which I say, hey friend, maybe just stick to actual laksa next time? LOL). So yes if you think you wouldn’t mind this fusion of pasta with laksa sauce, feel free to give it a go. For my friend though, this was a firm 7.5/10.

Finally we also got the Kraving Ayam Bakar (S$18):

Krave - Steak n Chips

Kraving Ayam Bakar (S$18) – 9.5/10

So it was our friend from New York who got this, and I’m happy to say she loved it. As with my previous experience chronicled in my former review of Krave, she found the chicken really tender and well-flavoured thanks to the sweet and spicy kicap marinade, along with the tasty peanut sauce. The lontong cubes were also still on point – soft and perfectly-paired with the sauce. 9.5/10 

All in all, we had a terrific time, although I would really counsel you guys make a reservation in advance. They allocate some seats for walk-ins, but these fill up way quicker than you think.

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious Rating: 9.5/10
Average spend per pax:~S$23
Recommended dishes: Steak ‘n’ Chips (S$25), Kraving Ayam Bakar ($18), Kurry Kremoso (S$18)

WORD. at Upper Thomson Road

WORD.
906 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 787110
Reservations: Text 96858468 and state the number of pax, date and time, and a confirmation text will follow
Remarks: No GST

Opening hours
Tue-Thu: 11am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 1030pm
Sun: 11am to 10pm
Closed on Mondays

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~$40 for 1 app, 1 main, and 1 drink each
Recommended dishes: Cut the Crab crabcakes (S$15), Cow’ch Potato steak (S$24)

I first heard about WORD. a couple of weeks ago from a friend of mine who is ever the intrepid food-explorer with her husband.  Not to be outdone by this Magellan of halal dining, I made the trek out to this new container-style bistro/café yesterday, dragging my endlessly patient BFF with me.

Tucked away among a row of shops on Upper Thomson Road, and further obscured by major construction works for the future Springleaf MRT station, WORD. is definitely not easy to find without directions from Google Maps, so keep your phones handy, people.

By the time I got there right around 230pm, the place was almost full and buzzed with conversation.

Word Café - Ambience 2

I really loved the decor of the place – it had elements of industrial-chic but managed to feel very cosy at the same time.

Word Café - Decor

The very Instagram-worthy main wall of the container

Word Café - Ambience

How do you not love the stylized lion poster?

Word Café - Wall

The wall behind the counter – how delightful!

So given that this place is only some 2+ months old, their menu is still a work in progress as they continue to experiment and streamline it. This explains all the blacked out bits and the manual additions. Take a look here:

Word Café - Menu 1

Salmon Khan!!! I love it, and can’t believe I hadn’t come across this pun before.

Word Café - Menu 2

Confession: “Between the Buns” makes me quite uncomfortable HAHA

The first starter we had was Magic Mushrooms (S$10), which consisted of fleshy white mushrooms coated in savoury batter, served with an aioli dip:

Word Café - Magic Mushrooms

Yum – I’m more of a stir-fried mushrooms type of eater, but I have to say these were pretty good. The batter was light and crunchy, with some sort of salty seasoning that I liked. However, the seasoning was not quite even, so you got some mushrooms that are a little saltier than others. Apart from that, all good – the aioli was decent too. 8.5/10

We also shared the Cut the Crab (S$15), which are mozzarella cheese crabcakes served with a spicy belado dip:

Word Café - Cut the Crab

OK immediate cons: As you can see, this looked almost identical to the battered mushrooms. Same platter, same dip, same side salad, same coating. I was a little disappointed. Also, where is this spicy belado dip? It looked and tasted like regular old aioli to me – not that I don’t like aioli, but I wish they hadn’t set up that expectation for an imaginary belado dip.

Pros: Bells and whistles aside, the crab cake itself tasted really good! It was fairly savoury and packed with crab meat!  9/10

For my main, I chose to go big and got myself the Cow’ch Potato (S$24), which is the beef fillet steak with potato purĂ©e and a side of mesclun greens.

Word Café - Cow-ch Potato Steak

Now, again I encountered some mismatch in the menu description and the platter that arrived – this was supposed to have come with the grilled spinach onion, and a choice of hollandaise or brown sauce, but all I got was the steak, the salad, and the potato purĂ©e. Where the grilled spinach onion and sauces at, bruh?

The absence of sauce was problematic because the potato purée was so finely puréed that it was more like a dense paste, whereas I prefer a light, fluffy mash. I asked one of the servers if I could get the sauce and it seemed she was not aware the steak should come with any sauce at all. In the end I did manage to get a steaming hot cup of brown sauce though, so that made the puree quite nice and runny, and the meat very juicy.

I requested for my steak to be medium, and I think it came perfectly cooked:

Word Café - Steak cut

Mmmm so juicy and pink ❀

The meat was tender and succulent, especially when you cut up a chunk of it and drag it through a pool of saucy potato purée. I thought the done-ness was perfect. There were no sinewy or tough parts, except for the one strip of (is it tendon? I want to say tendon.) running lengthwise on one side of the fillet, which was easy enough to remove. I did wish the steak had come with fries or actual mash potatoes, instead of the purée though! 9/10

My friend got the cheekily-named Mother Cluckers (S$14), comprising of a whole chicken leg with grilled garlic potatoes, poached asparagus and pimiento with bĂ©arnaise sauce. Unfortunately, neither of us remembered to take a photo of it! I was too busy digging into my steak when the chicken leg came, sorry guys. I’ll update you once I find a photo of it online ok!

My friend liked the lemony béarnaise sauce, but found the chicken meat too dry and a little stringy, if you know what I mean. I eyeballed the chunk of chicken leg and had to agree with him. Until they can make us moister, juicier chicken, 7/10 for the Mother Cluckers.

I had no room for dessert, thanks to the Coconut Shake (S$7) I got, which was thick as thieves (incorrect use of the simile, but you know what I mean):

Word Café - Coconut Shake

The Coconut Shake (S$7) was a little too thick and tasted like melted Paddle Pop ice cream with a hint of coconut. Get the Iced tea next time if you’re looking for something more refreshing! 7/10

Word Café - Latte

My friend got the Latte (S$5), which came on this adorable red saucer shaped like a paint palette! Loved it. Can’t comment about the coffee though! 

All in all, I felt there was some promise with the menu items, and I do want to come back and try more dishes soon (like the Salmon Khan! And the Ikea Made Us Do It beef balls!). However, the location is a little out of the way for me. I know they have a 3-year lease on the place, so I figure if they stick it out a little longer until the new Springleaf MRT station opens up in 2020, they’ll definitely be set then.

Because of the container shape of the place, the acoustics are not the greatest. There are several tables with kids around us, and so the place became really quite noisy at times, making us feel a little harried during our meal. I suppose it will be much better on quieter days instead of Saturday peak.

I’ll leave you guys with some photos of the place:

Word Café - Crate tables

Crate tables and seats for those who just want snacks and drinks!

Word Café - Dessert display

The counter/dessert display area

Word Café - Mirrored ceilings

Check out the mirrored ceilings and the crazy wired lights all over

Word Café - Mirrored ceilings 2

Word Café - Kitchen View

A window into the “open” kitchen

 

Word Café - Tyre plants

I don’t know what to make of this, but points for recycling old tires

Word Café - HDB Door Table

An old HDB door as a long tabletop!!! I LOVE IT <3<3

WORD.
906 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 787110
Reservations: Text 96858468 and state the number of pax, date and time, and a confirmation text will follow
Remarks: No GST

Opening hours
Tue-Thu: 11am to 10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 1030pm
Sun: 11am to 10pm
Closed on Mondays

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: ~$40 for 1 app, 1 main, and 1 drink each
Recommended dishes: Cut the Crab crabcakes (S$15), Cow’ch Potato steak (S$24)

Eighteen Chefs at Orchard Cineleisure

Eighteen Chefs
#04-02 Cathay Cineleisure
8 Grange Road
Singapore 239695

Opening Hours
Sun-Thu: 1130am to 1030pm
Fri-Sat & Eve of PH: 1130am to 1am
Reservations: +65 6736 3800

So have you guys watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens?! No spoilers, don’t worry. I won’t even tell you if I thought it was good or bad (although it’s killing me not to say anything, judgy as I am). What I will share with you, is how excited I was. I re-watched all 6 movies to refresh my memory and get psyched for Episode VII. Heck, I even dressed up as a modern day Princess Leia to the screening! Behold:

image

I went easy on the side buns because the actual ones from the movie would’ve looked SO RIDICS.

Yes. I had dinner with a friend before meeting another friend for the movie proper, and I warned both of them to prepare for major embarrassment.

My dinner date and I decided on the halal-certified western food chain Eighteen Chefs, which has an outlet conveniently located in Cineleisure Orchard. The restaurant is literally next to the box office area on the 4th floor. It was perfffff.

In case you guys didn’t already know, Eighteen Chefs is a homegrown social enterprise, with a story that really gives me the feels. It was started by former drug addict Chef Benny Se Teo as an avenue for his entrepreneurial spirit, as well as to create employment opportunities for other ex-offenders and at-risk youths. The name was inspired by Eighteen, the name of the gang Chef Benny’s dad used to belong to (how interesting!). The restaurant now has several franchises in Singapore, and all of them are committed to hiring ex-offenders and troubled youths as part of their staff. You can read all about it here, it’s really very riveting and heart-warming.

Crying Emoji

Approximately how I feel about this story

I mean, isn’t it just great?! I love that this whole enterprise is empowering those trying to turn their lives around. Without these opportunities, former convicts might be discouraged from trying, from sheer lack of hope. I am really grateful for Chef Benny’s vision and dedication to the cause.

Aaaaanyway I digress. Like I said there are many branches of Eighteen Chefs today, totalling 9 which span the whole of Singapore (for real, from Simei to Serangoon to Orchard to Jurong East to Bukit Panjang, whew!). You can check out the outlets here: Eighteen Chefs Outlets, and take a look at the menu online here: Eighteen Chefs Online Menu.

My friend and I shared a starter – the Calamari Rings (S$4.80).

image

They really look like onion rings don’t they! I hate onion rings. More so when I tragically mistake onion rings for calamari :(:(:(

The calamari rings were aiiight. Very ordinary, and I didn’t really expect much for the extremely low price point of S$4.80. The batter was a little bland, and the squid rings weren’t particularly plump or flavourful. Thank goodness for self-service chilli sauce station! Maybe they could improve the batter a little to make it more savoury? But for that price I will let the pedestrianness of the calamari rings slide. 7/10.

For my main, I got the Striploin Steak (S$15.80), which features an NZ chilled beef cut alongside some seasonal vegetables, and comes with a mystery black (pepper?) sauce:

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Full disclosure – I love steak, and will readily eat it even if it’s overcooked. For real, even steak from a regular coffeeshop like Mr Teh Tarik is like, wow sedap, for me. This devotion served me well when I realised the steak from Eighteen Chefs, which I had ordered in ‘medium’ doneness, came fairly overcooked:

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I think this could be medium well? Or well done? It was very overcooked.

I still ate it anyway. I think it wouldn’t have been half bad if I had ordered it in medium rare, so if you guys like your steak juicy, please get it in medium rare! I was sad it came with the grilled potatoes instead of fries or mash, but potatoes are potatoes and I love them regardless. Also, the seasonal vegetables were pretty sad and vaguely reminiscent of hospital food, but I still ate them anyway, blandness notwithstanding. The mystery black sauce that came with the steak, which I will assume is black pepper sauce, tasted pretty awful so I didn’t pour too much of it over my steak. Instead of being a fiery peppery sauce, it tasted like… kicap manis (sweet light soy sauce) with salt and a little bit of pepper. Not ideal. 6.5/10 for the steak!

During my first visit here I had the Heart Attack Fried Rice For 1 (S$15.80) which came with 200gm of New York strips, and the meat was infinitely more juicy and flavourful then. I would counsel going with that if you’re hankering for some meat.

My friend got the Japanese Curry Beef Rice (S$13.80), which features rice drenched in thick curry and topped with tender grilled beef strips:

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This was an infinitely better choice! Japanese curry is always so yummy – in case you’ve never had it before, it’s thicker, smoother, and less piquant than regular curry. Eighteen Chefs’ rendition was very tasty and flavourful, and really quite comforting on rainy days, which feature aplenty during this time of year! Because the beef was soaked in curry it was also more tender and juicy than the bujang (solo) Striploin steak. 9/10 for this hearty curry dish.

Although I didn’t really like my steak, I feel I would definitely come back again to have more of the Curry Beef Rice and the Heart Attack Fried Rice. Definitely skip the calamari unless you’re craving, or don’t mind that it’s not great because it costs less than S$5. The menu is pretty extensive so there is a whole lot of other options too if you find something else that appeals to you!

Conceptually I also support Eighteen Chefs’ yellow-ribbon cause, so I will probably come here once in a while, especially when I’m watching a movie at Cineleisure. I hope you guys will do it too!

Below are some sub-par shots of the menu which I took, in case you guys are too lazy to go to the website!

 

Royz Et Vous Specialty Coffee at Telok Ayer

Royz et Vous Specialty Coffee
137 Telok Ayer Street #01-01
Singapore 068602
Tel: +65 62930270
Online Reservation: Click here
Online Menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm
Sat: 12pm-10pm
Sun: 12pm-9pm

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$45

I first went to Royz et Vous, back when it was at Bali Lane, with my classmate one day after Arabic class on Bussorah St (check out Al Markaz, it’s great!) and enjoyed the Buffalo Wings tremendously. So when I found out that it had moved to Telok Ayer, I was determined to check it out. Afterall, it was a welcome move, as the Telok Ayer/Chinatown area could use more quality halal establishments.

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The new Royz et Vous is a short walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT station, and an even shorter one from Telok Ayer MRT station, if you are coming on the Downtown Line. Finding it is relatively easy as the restaurant faces the Thian Hock Keng temple, the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore. I arrived there one weekday evening around 630pm, and was pleased by the new interior of the place:

Royz et Vous interior decor

Pretty cosy, and very woody

Royz et Vous Furniture

Definitely a step up from the metal seats/tables they used to have at the Bali Lane location

The menu seems to have expanded quite remarkably, with more substantial appetizers, mains, and drinks:

Royz et Vous Menu Snacks Appetizers

Sliders! Two types of chicken wings! Sweet potato fries! Salad! Very diverse, but I was also wondering why Truffle Fries wasn’t on the menu 😩

Royz et Vous Menu Mains

Beef, chicken, prawns, salmon, duck, cod, lamb – they have everything here! I was spoilt for choice

Royz et Vous Drinks Menu

Halal champagne and wine! What a novelty. I tasted alcohol-free beer in Spain once and HAAAATED it. Wonder how I’d feel about these ones.

My cousin and I decided to share the Buffalo Wings (S$12.90), since it was so good the first time I had them. Upon placing our order, we were warned that it was going to be pretty spicy as they were going to be coated in buffalo sauce made with bird’s eye chilli. I wasn’t worried, since my cousin who came with me, is an absolute chilli fiend – the kind who will drink spicy kuah asam pedas like a soup.

Royz et Vous Buffalo Wings

4 drumlets and 4 mid-joint wings

Royz et Vous Buffalo Wings 2

YUMMMMM

Consistent with my previous assessment, the buffalo wings were SO GOOD!!!! So juicy, and savoury. A mixture of spicy, sweet, and sour at the same time, just so delicious. I didn’t find the sauce too overwhelmingly hot, and even if I did, the sour cream dip would have done the trick to pare it down. The chicken skin had absorbed the flavours of the buffalo wings sauce, while still retaining some of its crispiness, which was great. Definitely a must-order here. 10/10

For my mains, I ordered the R.E.V. Brazen Beef (S$27.90), which is the striploin steak sliced into several cuts (the term for it is Tagliata I think, which is Italian for sliced steak). I ordered it in medium done-ness, and it came accompanied with fries, salad, and chilli aioli:

Royz et Vous Brazen Beef Entrecote

Not the biggest fan of the plastic cup for the sauce, as it marred the presentation a little

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Royz et Vous beef steak closeup

Perfectly pink! Love the colour.

I had wanted so badly to like the striploin, since I was looking for a serious contender to Krave’s amazing steak. The first bite did have me impressed – the beef was melt-in-your-mouth tender – but after a few more bites I realised it wasn’t really as flavourful as I’d wanted it to be. The beef ended up tasting a little bland, so I had to keep eating it with the chilli aioli for more flavour. So while the texture was really tender, I thought the taste needed some improvement. The salad wasn’t bad, pretty standard and enjoyable. I thought the fries were a little soggy and I didn’t appreciate those green bits on it – I think they were seaweed? Or some sort of herb. Personally I prefer my steak fries to be hot, thick-cut, and with no other frills. Overall this dish was slightly disappointing – I would probably want to try the Asparagus Beef on my next visit though. 7/10

My cousin tried the R.E.V. Smoked Duck (S$24.90), which came with herb-roasted potatoes, salad, and a cup of home-made spicy sauce:

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I LOVED the roasted baby potatoes – it tasted of rosemary and, well, good old potato. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad rosemary potatoes, come to think of it. The smoked duck itself, while savoury and flavourful, tasted a little dry. This I thought was disappointing. Before my second bite of this, I dunked the smoked duck meat into the spicy sauce, which mitigated the dryness a little.  7/10

For dessert, we decided on the Mango CrĂȘme BrĂ»lĂ©e (S$9.90), because truthfully it sounded delicious, and also we wanted some sort of comparison with Krave’s signature Cempedak CrĂšme BrĂ»lĂ©e.

Royz et Vous Mango Creme Brulee

How pretty!

Royz et Vous Mango Creme Brulee Close Up

Does that not look terribly delicious!!

I really loved the taste of the mango custard; it was top notch. Sweet, mangoey, and with the perfect custardy consistency (creamy and soft, but with some body). I thought the burnt sugar layer at the top was a little too think/soft – they should have burnt it a little longer, or added more sugar really. I really love the slightly bitter taste of burnt sugar, which I thought would have complemented the sweet mango custard really well, but alas the bitter taste was not at all strong. I must say I really loved the colours of this dish, and the actual mango custard which was so, so delicious. Too bad about the caramelised shell. My cousin and I still preferred the Cempedak rendition of it from Krave, as it’s more special, with the distinct and strong cempedak taste adding some welcome bitterness to the dish. 8/10

I won’t review the drinks much, so here are a couple of photos of my Iced Chocolate (S$8) and my cousin’s Mint Mocha Latte (S$7):

Royz et Vous iced chocolate

Not as thick as I would have liked. Although I wouldn’t have liked it too sweet, this to me tasted a little bland.

Royz et Vous Mint Mocha Latte

HOW PRETTYYYYYY. I didn’t taste this Mint Mocha Latte, but it looks absolutely luxurious on the deep red saucer, against the wooden table.

All in all, I think Royz et Vous still has some room for improvement, although it moving to Telok Ayer is a step in the right direction (more halal options in the Singapore CBD please!). The buffalo wings are the cat’s pajamas, and I really loved the quiet, laid-back, high-ceilinged ambience of the restaurant. It’s a cool space, and I hope they stay there a long time — long enough to improve on the mains! I will definitely go back to try the other stuff, insyaa Allah.

Service is very friendly, and because it is (a) a full-service restaurant that (b) accepts credit cards and (c) sits in the CBD area, I think you could actually go to Royz et Vous not just with your friends and family, but also with business partners for a low-key business lunch or dinner.

Royz et Vous Specialty Coffee
137 Telok Ayer Street #01-01
Singapore 068602
Tel: +65 62930270
Online Reservation: Click here
Online Menu: Click here

Opening Hours
Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm
Sat: 12pm-10pm
Sun: 12pm-9pm

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Average spend per pax: S$45