HALAL AND HAPPENING
Beyond Malay and Indonesian food, more creative concepts and cuisines are now entering the halal restaurant scene
More creative concepts and cuisines are entering the halal restaurant scene
Based on MUIS figures, halal eateries grew from 2,008 to 2,744 between 2014 to 2016, and the number is set to increase. But halal eateries are not just on the rise. Their profiles are changing too. Gone are the days when halal diners only meant restaurants offering Malay or Indonesian food. Choices now run the gamut from Chinese, French, Korean to Japanese cuisine, with savvy restaurateurs making their halal credentials a footnote and the food, the main draw. Here are a few that are making their presence felt.
This new halal-certified 100-seater in vibrant Little India serves up Thai classic and street food dishes. Executive chef Bright Kan San had worked in Thailand for eight years, and now runs the kitchen with two
Thai chefs. Their a la carte menu focuses on Southern and Esarn, or Northeastern Thai flavours, so expect signature dishes like larb salmon ($18; a type of meat salad prevalent in Esarn’s Lao-influenced cuisine), stingray curry ($24) and crab meat curry ($26).
Level 5 Park Hotel Farrer Park, 10 Farrer Park Station Road. Tel: 6824 8851
Located in the heart of Kampong Glam, this eatery calls itself Singapore’s first Muslim-owned Japanese izakaya. They procure 90 per cent of their produce from Japan, which is halal-certified as well. Japanese char-grilled eats are the order of the day, with signature dishes such as gyu nitsuke ($18), stewed beef ribs cooked for eight hours until tender, a range of kushiyaki or skewered grilled snacks featuring wagyu, quail eggs and more, and other dishes like unagi kabayaki or grilled eel in teriyaki sauce
($18). Instead of alcohol, they serve mocktails like matcha egg
($14), a blend of matcha, milk and egg white, and chendol ($14), a drink version of the local dessert with a Japanese twist. They plan to include an additional seasonal menu by August.
16 Bussorah Street. Tel: 6291 5373
Owner Asri Ramli’s wife was desperate to find a good halal prawn noodle after she converted to Islam. After experimenting at home and receiving good feedback on Instagram, she and her husband decided to start a stall. Enter Deanna’s Kitchen in Toa Payoh.
Apart from regular prawn noodles, she also offers lobster prawn noodles, and plans to expand her menu (from $3.50) to include crustaceans like lobsters, crayfish, prawns and clams.
Deanna adjusts her recipes to fit a halal brief. “I substituted pork bones with heaps of prawn shells, anchovies and dried shrimps. By boiling them for three hours or more, the flavours of these ingredients come out. My broth is leaning more towards a thick prawn bisque.”
#02-25 Toa Payoh West Market and Food Centre, Block 127 Lorong 1, Toa Payoh. Tel: 9424 5496
Segar @ Star Vista
The sixth outlet of the Places 2 Eat halal restaurant chain, Segar @ Star Vista opened earlier this year offering halal-certified, Thai-Chinese zichar eats such as curry fish head ($20), sambal kang kong (from $8), and Segar claypot golden chicken (from $10.80). The owners of Segar, who have been in the halal food business for more than 20 years, spent a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen. Their goal was to achieve hearty flavours everyone can enjoy without the use of lard or pork. The lunchtime crowd is a mixed clientele from all walks of life, which to them, means customers go there for good zichar food, and not simply because of the certification. #02-08, 1 Vista Exchange. Tel: 6262 6609 Muk-Bang Korean Restaurant For a cuisine that traditionally features pork and a good dose of makgeolli, it might be quite hard to find a satisfying meal that is halal. But recently opened Muk-Bang Korean Restaurant is trying to bring the strong flavours of Korean cuisine to the table with halal certification to boot. On the menu are dishes such as budae jjigae or spicy army stew ($45.90 for two persons), chicken ramyeon ($9.90) and saeng galbisal or boneless beef short ribs ($35.90) under their barbecue sets.
#01-02 Viva Business Park, 750 Chai Chee Road. Tel: 6604 6328
This Japanese-French inspired cafe has just been certified halal this year. With its kitchen helmed by a Muslim chef, Kumoya serves up favourites like Japanese curry udon with sukiyaki beef ($15.90) and pasta aglio e olio with smoked duck
($13.90), while signature desserts like matcha yoghurt parfait ($15.90) make for tempting treats.
Until 13 August, the cafe is also running Sanrio Japan’s first halal-certified pop-up cafe in Singapore and Southeast Asia in celebration of the puppy dog character Cinnamoroll’s
15th anniversary. Cinnamoroll-inspired dishes such as Fluffy Dreams Japanese curry rice ($21.90) and Flying Clouds Cinnamaroll burger
($17.90) feature in this menu. Says Joseph Koh, operations manager, “Being halal-certified allows us to achieve what we set out to do in an increasingly competitive cafe scene.” 8 Jalan Klapa. Tel: 6297 3727
Traditional bakery Old Seng Choong’s offers a range of butter cakes nostalgic touch. Helmed by renowned local pastry chef Daniel Tay, the cakes are a modern twist on classic butter cakes. Take your pick from their six flavours comprising the original butter cake, yuzu and winter melon, wolfberries and rose wine, matcha and white chocolate, as well as popular flavours red dates with walnut and longan butter cake. From $18, oldsengchoong.com