Yeah, um. You see that? I’m not even starting with a decent introduction to the place. Instead I just thrust their sticky toffee date pudding in your faces because I believe that’s what you deserve as a perfectly decent introduction. So now yes, I proclaim this a decent introduction. I hope that’s alright. And because I believe in revolting carnal pleasure before anything less provocative gets in the way. Halia at Raffles Hotel, or in other words that place I always pass by whilst brisk walking with my Dad in the Botanic Gardens, except this time it’s at the oldest hotel in the country. I’ll just run you through this pudding real quick.
Sticky toffee date pudding –$10
Honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Ok so, when it came, I thought it looked a little boring. Average-sized flattened cuboid with some probably average vanilla ice cream for tradition’s sake. Ha, wrong again. It undoubtedly beat the one from Marmalade Pantry, in terms of texture and sweetness level. This tongue can’t take too much of a sugar overload, I swear. Yes, even I. It could shrivel up and die. This was surprisingly moist, although the banana bread appearance could be refined. Moist, dense, with the right amount of aeration to soak up all the cool vanilla and warm, sweet caramel, like a brown child grovelling on sticky ground for some fair-weather pleasure. I particularly enjoyed the slight addition of sea salt and homemade (yes, yes) butterscotch.
Chilli crab dip with toasted baguette– $14
Deep fried squid, with spring onion lime syrup dip and piquant mayo– $14
Pork sausage and mash (from kids menu)
Fried bocconcini, roast red onion, capsicum and mesclun salad with balsamic – $17
Alright, I didn’t know the fare here was going to be that impressive. The mother and I shared the three starters; that chilli crab dip was divine- mildly spicy, creamy, well-textured with the even slivers of fresh crab meat. Ugh, yum, especially with the oh-so sophisticatedly toasted baguette. Eat it slow, or you may get a crabby overdose with no room for any of the other rather amazing stuff. The bocconcini (mozzarella) salad was a perfectly petite size, offering crunch and serious stringiness, as you may see in the photo above. Yeah, that was vulgar stringiness. Thank goodness for the tart and lemony salad, or the little fried balls by themselves would have been plain, old, trite things. As for the squid, what was most intriguing was the sauces they served it with. Hello, sweet pairings (?). I was confused, then intrigued, then pleased. I used the two dips as an excuse for the baguette, because I thought it’s toasted, airy texture fit the soaking process more, and made the whole experience of dip and eat more enjoyable. I picked at some of my sister’s sausage and mash, almost scoffing at the putrid size (who was I to judge, it was a damn kids option for goodness sake), but was shocked at the aromatic, whipped velvet of white, speckled mash, and juicy, well done pork sausage. It didn’t even need a sauce reduction!
62.5 degrees C poached eggs with roma tomato, baby spinach and herb butter sauce on toasted brioche– $20 (my mother is a vegetarian so we passed on the extra mortadella and pistachio ham).
Basically one of the highlights of my life. I mean, of the day. You know, it runs the same route.
Here’s another one of my little stories. So I move the golden slab of brioche a little, very, very little on the plate, and then boom. The beautiful little pregnant egg, so delicate and translucent that you can feel the yolk tremble and weep underneath the 0.01mm thick membrane of white, dropped its belly to the white ground. These guys were so careful to poach it at this precise temperature, under such precise conditions, yielding the most vulnerable, scared little egg. Oh, poor egg. Oh, beautiful, poor egg. But weak it was not. It survived not just one, but two falls, after some clumsy knife handling on my part once again. It finally let its inhibitions go once I stroked the surface with my knife, as if that force alone actually beat that of the ground-hitting phase. Really. Yolk everywhere. It was a beautiful, carnal mess.
Mushed it all up. I let the brioche go soggy, let the tomato and spinach drink up the sunny hues of yolk, yolk and more yolk. The fresh, cooked vegetables, bouncy, lovely-textured mushrooms and balsamic-glazed red onions paired the rich egg-and-herbed butter combo perfectly. Every moment was one spent in sanctimony, I tell you.
Rating: 4.83/5 (I like complicated decimals)
The Halia at Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road
#01-22/23 Raffles Hotel
Tel: +65 9639 1148
Guys, I love eggs.