HA­LAL AND HAP­PEN­ING

Be­yond Malay and In­done­sian food, more cre­ative con­cepts and cuisines are now en­ter­ing the ha­lal restau­rant scene

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHAR­LENE CHOW

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.

Blue Jas­mine

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

Haráru Iza­kaya

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

Deanna’s Kitchen

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

Ku­moya

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

Blue Jas­mine

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