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.”
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
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.
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.
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, 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.
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
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