Halal food: 8 places for meals from tomahawk steaks to Korean-fusion fare

More restaurants serving international and fusion fare are going for halal certification

Madam Mariana Hamid will be organising more get-togethers with her non-Muslim friends. That’s because there are now more halal certified dining options.

The 56-year-old housewife recently dined at halal-certified The MeatHouse by Eighteen Chefs in Century Square mall and intends to suggest the eatery as the next meetup venue with her ex-classmates.

She also finds it interesting to try food that is not traditional Malay food. “Food is one way to get acquainted with other cultures.”

The MeatHouse by Eighteen Chefs opened in June and received its halal certification on Sept 14.

Co-owner and chef Benny Se Teo, who also co-founded the Eighteen Chefs restaurant chain, says: “The world of halal dining has evolved. Diners are well-informed. We want to provide Western food with an Asian influence that everyone can enjoy.”

Mr Se Teo, 58, and his team of chefs tested meat and ingredients from different halal suppliers for two months before The MeatHouse opened.

“We don’t use ingredients just because they are halal-certified. Their quality must meet our standards,” he says.

“Halal certification can get Muslim diners in the door, but we must deliver on quality food, ambience and service to keep them coming back.”

 
 

Mr Fazil Abdul Hamid Marican, 47, chief executive of a consultancy firm that advises companies on obtaining halal certification, notes an increase in the number of halal-certified eateries that do not just serve Malay, Indian-Muslim and Indonesian cuisine in the last three years.

Since his consultancy launched in 2004, he has advised more than 600 businesses on obtaining halal certification. Up to 90 per cent of his clients are non-Muslims. He observes that F&B outlets that obtain halal certification can see their business improve by about 20 per cent.

Halia, which opened in 2001 at Singapore Botanic Gardens, obtained halal certification last year.

Its director of operations Gavin Chen, 47, says: “We already had gluten-free and vegetarian options on our menu, so the next natural step was to go halal to become even more inclusive.”

To get halal certification, the restaurant completely revamped its beverage menu to avoid alcohol. Instead of wine pairing, Halia introduced the pairing of food with drinks prepared from herbs and spices.

Executive chef Ciaran Armstrong, 34, who is from Ireland, says running a kitchen to meet the criteria for halal certification by Muis involves constantly challenging himself and his team to be creative with the use of ingredients.

At Seoul Garden Group, its two new concept outlets at Century Square this year are halal-certified.

Two Hana is a cafe serving Korean-Western fusion food, and Seoul In A Sandwich sells sandwiches with Korean fillings. The first Seoul Garden restaurant opened in 1983 and grew into a restaurant chain that became halalcertified in 2002.

Mr Andrew Lee, 57, the group’s chief executive, recalls the difficulties encountered by the company during the halal certification process.

The restaurants initially lost a segment of customers when it removed dishes with pork, but eventually gained a new group of Muslim diners after it obtained halal certification.

It took a year to plan Two Hana’s menu before it was launched.

Due to the difficulty of obtaining balsamic vinegar that is halal-certified, the cafe uses a yogurt-based dressing that is infused with honey citron jam instead of vinaigrette.

At halal-certified Thai restaurant Blue Jasmine in Park Hotel Farrer Park, creativity is key to maintaining the authenticity of taste in Thai cuisine. Thai specialist chef Nipaporn Doungiaisantisuk, better known as Chef Tuk, has found ways to recreate Thai flavours while working with halal-certified ingredients.

While pork is often featured in the cuisine of her home town in Chiang Rai, Chef Tuk, 39, has managed to replace it with meats such as chicken and duck. Moo Tod Kratiem, for instance, is a classic Thai dish of crispy fried pork with garlic, but Chef Tuk came up with a version using duck instead.

She says: “It is possible to remain true to Thai flavours through the use of the right mix of ingredients in the marinade and seasoning.”

FLAVOUR FLINGS


Mr Shawn Koh, owner-chef of Flavour Flings, with his Unagi & Cheese Croissant (left) and Cheese Burglette. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

This halal-certified cafe in Hougang has a new addition to its menu – the Unagi & Cheese Croissant ($24.90 nett), a butter croissant served with Emmenthal cheese, unagi kabayaki, scrambled eggs, shredded seaweed and salad greens.

The cafe’s signature is the Cheese Burglette, available with a single patty ($24.90) or double patties ($29.90). Swiss raclette cheese is melted and scraped onto the patty at the table. The burger is served with Cajun fries.

Where: Block 121 Hougang Avenue 1, 01-1348

Open: 11am to 4pm and 5.30 to 9pm (weekdays); 9am to 4pm and 5.30 to 9pm (weekends). Closed on Tuesdays

Info: Call 6286-0051 or go to www.facebook.com/flavourflings

SEOUL IN A SANDWICH


Seoul In A Sandwich’s Soy Garlic Chicken is made with focaccia bread and contains daikon slaw and soy garlic chicken. PHOTO: DAPHOTOGRAPHER

This halal-certified kiosk serves Western breads with Korean fillings.

The Seoul Street Toast ($6.50) is made with white bread and has a filling of onion cabbage omelette, chicken ham and sliced cheese.

The Soy Garlic Chicken ($7.50) is made with focaccia bread, and contains daikon slaw with gochujang dressing and soy garlic chicken.

Add a side of Kimchi Chicken Soup for $2.90.

Where: B1-23, Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5

Open: 11am to 9pm daily

Info: Call 6260-4339 or go to www.facebook.com/SeoulinaSandwichSG

THE MEATHOUSE BY EIGHTEEN CHEFS


The Meat and Mash has grilled meat served on a skewer. PHOTO: THE MEATHOUSE BY EIGHTEEN CHEFS

The eatery, which received its halal certification earlier this month, is a meat lovers’ paradise. The Meat and Mash is an innovative house favourite. Customers choose from chicken ($14++), lamb ($18++) and beef ($20++).

The grilled meat is served on a skewer hanging on a custom-made stand, and juices from the meat drip into a bowl of mashed potato.

For steak lovers, go for the Tomahawk (Australian grass-fed beef) which costs $12++ for every 100g. Tomahawk steaks range from 1.2kg to 2kg. The Porterhouse (New Zealand free-range grass-fed beef) is $60++ for 600g.

Where: 05-04 Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5

Open: 11am to 10.30pm daily

Info: Call 6260-1752 or e-mail 18ccenturysquare@eighteenchefs.com

HALIA AT SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS


Halia’s Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini. PHOTO: HALIA

Established in 2001, the restaurant received its halal certification in June last year. Signature items include Lemongrass and Ginger Prawn Salad ($16++), which is served with fresh mango, tomato salsa, glass noodles and the restaurant’s signature ginger flower dressing.

Also popular is Singapore-style Chilli Crab Spaghettini ($26++), which is served with a spicy, sweet and tangy sauce.

Where: 1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter via Tyersall Gate, Tyersall Avenue)

Open: 9am to 9.30pm (Mondays to Thursdays); 9am to 10pm (Fridays and eve of public holidays); 9am to 10pm (Saturdays); 9am to 9.30pm (Sundays and public holidays)

Info: Call 8444-1148, e-mail banquet@thehalia.com or go to www.thehalia.com

TWO HANA


Mr Andrew Lee (left), chief executive of the Seoul Garden Group, which owns Two Hana, and chef Jodin Choo, Two Hana’s brand culinary lead. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

This is a new concept outlet by restaurant chain Seoul Garden Group. It serves Korean-Western fusion food and received its halal certification on Sept 7.

Signature items are Korean Seafood Cioppino with Tofu ($12 nett), a stew of prawns, clams and mussels. Add $2 for Kimgaru rice, seaweed rice with garlic oil and sesame oil.

Or go for the Striploin Bap ($15.50 nett) which is made using Meltique striploin from Australia.

Where: 01-21 Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5

Open: 9am to 10pm (weekdays), 8am to 10pm (weekends and public holidays)

Info: Call 6260-4321

BEYOND PANCAKES


Mr Tirumal Bandari, co-owner and head chef of Beyond Pancakes. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Beyond Pancakes, which has an outlet at Marina Square, opened its second outlet at City Square Mall in April.

Saumon Fume Galette ($16.90++) is a pancake made with buckwheat flour and topped with smoked salmon, pesto sauce, zucchini strips, mozzarella cheese, sunny eggs, avocado, sour cream and fresh herbs. The pesto is made in-house using fresh basil leaves.

Le Poulet ($14.90++) comprises grilled chicken strips, capsicum, onion and cherry tomatoes, served with mushroom and savoury spring onion pancakes.

Where: 02-35 City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Road

Open: 11am to 9.30pm daily

Info: Call 6909-6265 or go to beyondpancakes.com

THEJELLYHEARTS


PHOTO: THEJELLYHEARTS

Specialising in jelly cheesecakes, the retail chain opened its first outlet at E!Hub @ Downtown East in 2011 and received halal certification for the outlet in 2012. Popular items include the Neapolitan ($43.50, left), made of three layers of cream cheese cake in different flavours and topped with blueberry jelly. There is also the Mosaic Gem ($157.90), a 14-inch square cake with a customised drawing, for which customers can choose a combination of up to three flavours. There are eight flavours available: Classic original cream cheese, Alluring Chocolate, Heavenly Blueberry, Lovable Strawberry, Luscious Lychee, Tangy Mango, Tempting Cookies and Vivid Mosaic.

Where: 02-111 E!Hub @ Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close

Open: 11am to 9pm daily

Info: Call 6583-8782 or e-mail sales@thejellyhearts.com for customised orders

BLUE JASMINE


Thai specialist chef Nipaporn Doungiaisantisuk at Blue Jasmine. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The restaurant, which is into its second year of operations at Park Hotel Farrer Park, received its halal certification in June last year.

Thai specialist chef Nipaporn Doungiaisantisuk has refreshed the menu with new items that will be available from tomorrow.

The Cha-Om Fried Egg ($12++) is an omelette containing acacia leaf and served with a Thai fermented shrimp and chilli dip of Nam Prik Kapi that is pounded by hand.

Another signature item is Roast Chicken Esarn Style ($16++), which is marinated in a spice blend that includes ground white pepper.

Where: Level 5 Park Hotel Farrer Park, 10 Farrer Park Station Road

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily. Buffet dinner from 6.30 to 10pm (Fridays and Saturdays)

Info: Call 6824-8851, e-mail hello@bluejasmine.com.sg or go to www.parkhotelgroup.com/en/farrerpark/blue-jasmine

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 30, 2018, with the headline 'More halal options for diners'. Print Edition | Subscribe