It has been a week since the holy month of Ramadan started, and business is brisk at halal restaurants and cafes offering a variety of cuisines for Muslims breaking fast.
Options include Korean fried chicken from Jinjja Chicken in Bugis; salmon assam laksa from the Penang Culture chain of restaurants; seafood buckets from Cajun On Wheels at Suntec City's Pasarbella; and Singapore-inspired dishes such as chilli crab pasta and ondeh ondeh French toast at Hyde & Co in North Bridge Road.
During the annual fasting month, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. The meal served at sunset to break fast is called Iftar. Hari Raya Puasa, on July 6, marks the end of the fasting period.
English-inspired cafe Hyde & Co, which just received its halal certification two months ago, has two seatings for diners during Ramadan.
Main courses are changed weekly and dessert highlights include its new chendol affogato, pulut hitam waffle and butterscotch popcorn waffle.
Hyde & Co's general manager Derrick Chew, 30, says: "We wanted to open our doors to a wider community by getting halal certification. Instead of offering traditional Malay dishes, we decided to stick with home-grown flavours."
Also going home-grown is chef Vincent Kwek of Flava Contemporary Asian Bistro And Grill in East Coast Road.
The restaurant is offering a semi- buffet on top of its a la carte menu, which has two new dishes - Thai roasted chicken and spiced Moroccan lamb stew.
Ms Rita Zahara, co-founder of online shop Che Zahara Bakery, has added a lighter version of roll cakes to her menu of Hari Raya goodies.
She says: "Most roll cakes are filled with mousse or cream. We introduced crunchy textures and spreads with healthy ingredients."
But for those who want to indulge in a hearty buffet in a hotel, make your reservation soon as seats at popular restaurants such as StraitsKitchen at Grand Hyatt Singapore and Window on the Park at Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre are filling up fast.
Even Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, which debuts its Buka Puasa buffet from Fridays to Sundays this year, is already fully booked for Saturday and June 24.
The hotel can also make arrangements for large gatherings of 300 people, says general manager Sunshine Wong.
Engineer Azmi Yusof, 35, says: "With more halal places to choose from, it's easier for my friends and me to pick other cuisines when we break fast. Jinjja Chicken is definitely on my list, as I love Korean fried chicken."
Nurse Siti Aishah, 26, says: "Last year, I headed to cafes in the Arab Street area to break fast with my younger siblings and friends.
"This year will be no different, as my parents are keen on trying something new, maybe at Richmond Station or Hyde & Co. It gives my mother a break from cooking too."
HYDE & CO
What: The Ramadan set dinner ($25 a set) at Hyde & Co changes weekly.
Each set comes with a soup and Hyde's Home Blend Iced Tea - The Addams Family, which is iced Moroccan apple tea with apple bits.
The choice of main courses includes Hyde's Signature chilli crab pasta; beef cheek rendang with sweet potato mash and roasted vegetables; and har cheong gai chicken burrito, which is prawn paste chicken wrapped in Japanese rice.
Save space for dessert such as chendol affogato ($8), ondeh ondeh French toast ($12) and pulut hitam waffle ($12).
The cafe's a la carte dinner menu is not available during the month of Ramadan.
Where: 785 North Bridge Road
When: Until July 2, two seatings from 6.30 to 8.15pm and 8.30 to 10pm (Wednesday to Saturday)
Info: Call 6635-5785 (book a day in advance)
EATZI GOURMET BISTRO
What: Gather the family to break fast at Eatzi Gourmet Bistro, which offers Festive Family Feasts.
Dishes include its signature braised lamb shank; nasi goreng with prawns and chicken satay.
It is priced at $88 for four people, or $118 for six.
Festive goodies such as vanilla lapis ($42.80 for 1kg) and rainbow lapis ($44.80 for 1kg) are also available.
Pre-order online at bakery.eatzi. com.sg.
Where: Two outlets, at ITE Ang Mo Kio, 2 Ang Mo Kio Drive, 01-01; and Safra Yishun, 60 Yishun Avenue 4
What: Tuck into new dishes at Crave, the chain of eateries by the owners of Selera Rasa and Rafee's Corner. The items are satay nasi lemak set ($5.90, above), cendol melaka ($2.50) and air limau selasih ($2.50).
Selera Rasa is famous for its nasi lemak stall at Adam Road food centre, while Rafee's Corner in Amoy Street is known for its teh tarik.
Where: Six outlets, at Hougang Mall, Bedok Mall, Ion Orchard, Punggol Waterway Point, Junction 8, and Parkway Parade's Food Republic
What: Have a satisfying meal with a variety of Asian dishes at Flava's Ramadan semi-buffet.
Main course options include tempura fish and chips; ayam percik Kelantan (grilled whole chicken leg with Asian herbs and spices); Szechuan smoked duck linguine; Thai roasted chicken; ikan siakap bakar (grilled seabass with dried shrimp sambal); and Flava burger special.
Thai roasted chicken and spiced Moroccan lamb stew - two new dishes for the season - are part of the a la carte menu and buffet selection.
Where: Springvale Condominium, 907 East Coast Road, 01-03
When: Until July 4, 7 to 10.30pm daily Price: From Monday to Thursday, $28++ (adult), $15++ (child); from Friday to Sunday, $38++ (adult), $20++ (child)
Info: Call 6702-0302
What: Get ready for some finger- licking action with Jinjja Chicken's Ramadan feasts.
Set A ($38.90, for up to four people) comes with 16 chicken wings, four drumsticks, and six seafood mandu (Korean dumplings). Set B ($69.90 for up to eight people), comes with 32 chicken wings, eight drumsticks and 10 seafood mandu.
Each set come with fries, kimchi and soda.
Where: 249 Victoria Street
When: Until July 5, 11am to 10pm (Sunday to Thursday), 11am to 11.30pm (Friday and Saturday)
What: Seats are filling up fast for Crowne Plaza Changi Airport's first Buka Puasa feast ($48 nett a person). Indulge in traditional favourites such as beef rendang, fried sambal prawns, ikan assam pedas, mutton curry with potatoes, nasi briyani with raisins and assorted Nonya kueh.
Where: 75 Airport Boulevard When: Until July 4, 6 to 10pm daily. Fully booked on Saturday and June 24.
What: Seafood lovers can head to Cajun on Wheels, which offers Just Crayfish ($36, for up to two people); Couple bucket ($79, for up to three, pre-order required); and Family bucket ($129, for up to five, pre-order required).
The buckets come with shrimps, mussels and clams. Pick from Cajun cheese, Thai red curry, salted egg yolk, and tom kha talay sauces.
Where: Pasarbella, Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard, Level 1
When: Until July 1, 11am to 10pm (weekday), noon to 10pm (weekend)
What: For those breaking fast at home, stock your kitchen with new goodies from Che Zahara online bakery.
Instead of the usual rolls filled with mousse and cream, the new range features crunchy ones, such as Banana Nut Crunch ($20), a vanilla roll with chocolate fudge spread, banana nut crunch cereal and dried strawberries; Chewy Chocolate Nutella ($20), a chocolate roll with Nutella spread, dates, apricots, walnuts, vanilla almonds, crunchy rice and wheat flakes; and Frozen Dinosaur Roll ($23), a blue velvet vanilla roll with cream cheese, marshmallows, blueberry crunch, cranberries, apricots and fig.
Info: Call 6397-5158 or order online at www.chezahara.com. Pick up your orders at LaunchPad @ one-north, Block 79 Ayer Rajah Crescent, 02-08, 9am to 6pm, weekday only, closed on weekend
Fast filling up
If you are planning to break fast at popular restaurant buffets in hotels, make your bookings soon.
Many have been receiving bookings since April, and the pace has picked up this month.
StraitsKitchen at Grand Hyatt Singapore as well as Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts are 80 per cent booked so far, and expect to be fully booked in the coming weeks.
Both restaurants have amped up their offerings this year.
StraitsKitchen's buffet features Middle Eastern dishes on top of its Singapore delights, while Carousel features popular offerings from its previous promotions, with Japanese, Spanish, Mediterranean, Italian and Turkish cuisine.
Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant at Furama RiverFront, Singapore, is fully booked in the second and third week of Ramadan as well.
New items on the buffet menu include leg of lamb, baked whole fish and chicken sharwarma.
Both AquaMarine at Marina Mandarin Singapore and breez bistro at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy still have seats available for their buffets.
AquaMarine's buffet includes Indonesian oxtail soup, roasted whole baby lamb with rendang spices and baked Australian sea bass in banana leaves.
Following the debut of its Ramadan buffet last year, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre's Window On The Park restaurant's Ramadan buffet returns.
So far, the restaurant is already 95 per cent full on weekends.
This year, new dishes include nasi goreng istimewa, Jakarta-style ayam panggang (grilled chicken) and mutton korma (mildly spiced mutton marinated in yogurt), on top of seafood options and Singapore dishes.
Besides food, new elements have also been introduced, such as Osim massage chairs to help diners ease their fatigue after a day of fasting, says Mr Akshay Dalwani, 33, the hotel's director of food and beverage.
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