Cream of potato and leek
Communal dining is the practice of dining with others; it brings people merrily together over a hearty meal with happy round-the-table conversations leading back to harmonious times. A long table laden with an endless variety of delicacies: the idea seems similar to the long tables seen in the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle where Harry Potter and the other students have their meals, receive daily owl posts or partake in special events.
The Halia at Raffles Hotel intends to bring the magical joy and delights of dining together to the people of this fast pace tech-prioritised generation who are unable to tear their attention away from their mobile devices, social networks or work. Now, take one random day out from sitting in front of the television, or the range of entertainment devices, and get together with good company for a delicious feast. The communal dinner is served in generous portions, enough to comfortably feed four hungry men with large appetites. The refreshing concept classifies dishes into ‘big plates’ and ‘small plates’ instead of the usual ‘appetisers’ and ‘mains’. The restaurant décor has a touch of ‘nature’, bringing the garden into the restaurant with lush planted foliage complemented by wood-carved tables –a reversal of Halia at the Singapore Botanical Gardens where the restaurant is situated amongst the greens.
Oriental pulled duck, gherkin, caper, micro herb salad, soba noodle, and sesame oil
The Communal Feast serves four and is reasonably priced at $270; reasonable for the reasons stated in this post (read on). The feast is hydrated with a communal jug, with your choice of the new orange cinnamon, lemongrass or iced tea. The orange cinnamon fusion has a refreshing spicy edge –a great perk-me-up after siting under harsh fluorescent lights throughout the day in office.
Relaxing the body and warming the stomach is the chef’s soup, cream of potato and leek, and a selection of fresh bread. As the conversations build up, and relaxation starts to kick in, the table will be spontaneously filled with appetising components, not allowing any awkward waiting time to set in.
The goats’ cheese mousse, heirloom tomato, olive, wild honey with dried brioche opens and readies the palate with savoury and sweet flavours. Dig in and get busy splitting the dish of oriental pulled duck, gherkin, caper, micro herb salad, soba noodle, and sesame oil, while deciding who gets the bigger share. The flavours of the pulled duck are cultivated and pleasing with the cool soba.
The dish of house-smoked salmon pate, Hendrick’s gin and crostini cucumber is a very tedious dish that the chef had taken up upon himself to prepare. The fresh salmon is smoked in-house for two days over burnt woodchips, giving the salmon a delicately smoky taste and tangy spice with a firm silky texture.
The chilli-crab dip with toasted baguette is a hot favourite, with puns intended. Well suited for the Singaporean taste buds, it is also a well received amongst our friendly overseas visitors. Bearing a fragrant spice and good heat, the flavours spread over the palate with rampage, allowing the taste of chilli crab meat to flare beautifully.
What settles down the excitement of the senses would be the freshly baked kingfish collar marinated with miso and orange, accompanied by pickled vegetables and ginger shreds. As usual when fish dishes are done well, it leaves out the fishy odour, tasting of only pure and fresh flavours.
The chef’s inspiration for the Minced Beef “Zhajiangmian” is remarkable. To recreate a familiar and homely experience at a restaurant outside of the home is similar to having authentic local food overseas. It brings a warm comforting sensation and familiarity, basically saying ‘it tastes like what my grandmother used to make for me’. The surprising factor to this dish is that there are no traces od noodles hidden under the mixture of beef, iberico, chorizo, oyster sauce, carrot, bean sprout and spring onion, proving this dish to be light and enjoyable.
The twice-cooked spatchcock of spring chicken is hand rubbed with Cajun spice and sous vide for several hours. Wrapped with roasted and torched crispy skin and served with spiced cabbage slaw, paprika and mesquite spice, the chicken is tantalising with hints of Cajun spice and succulent without being dry.
The next dish would be from the Signature series. The Mayura Station Full Blood MBS 9+ ‘Gunpowder’ Wagyu Rump is marinated for four to six hours with charcoal and nitrate salt (not actual gunpowder of sulphur and potassium nitrate) to cure the meat and to prevent oxidation. This in turn adds to the flavourful smokiness after it is quickly placed on the grill to finish. This item is served with spring onion mash and in-house seethed pepper sauce.
The coconut parfait is a sensational twist; it is light on the palate with bits of pineapple, gingerflower and chocolate.
The well-favoured and warmly received sticky toffee pudding that’s topped with sea salt, served with date, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream satisfies desert lovers and concludes the wonderful feast.
For more information on the Communal Dining at The Halia, visit www.thehalia.com. For reservations, call +65 9639 1148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Halia at Raffles Hotel
#01-22/23, 1 Beach Road,
Mondays – Fridays (except Phs): 12pm – 2.30pm (last order at 1.30pm), 6 pm – 10.30pm (last order at 9.30pm)
Saturdays: 11am – 11pm (last order at 10pm)
Sundays & PHs: 11am – 10.30pm (last order at 9pm)
Afternoon Tea (Available only on Weekends and PHs): 3pm – 5pm
Brunch (Available only on Weekends and Phs): 11am – 5.30pm
Mondays – Fridays (except Phs): 1.30pm – 10.30pm (last order at 10pm)
Saturdays: 12pm – 11pm (last order at 10.30pm)
Sundays & PHs: 12pm – 10.30pm (last order at 10pm)
Jazz Saturdays: 8pm – 11pm (every Saturday)
*Words and photos by Timothy Seow Theron.