Ramadan is just around the corner and if you're fasting or have friends who are doing so, you'll want to have plenty of halal options to break fast at during this month - or perhaps even to share a meal with them at any time of the year.
Iftar is the evening meal that Muslims partake in as they end their daily fast during Ramadan and there are several restaurants in Singapore that offer special Iftar buffets during this time too. So whether you're Muslim or often dine with Muslim friends, here are 10 halal restaurants to check out this month.
1. 21 ON RAJAH
Mediterranean cuisine is the order of the day here but you'll get a few local and Southeast Asian delights thrown in too. Choose something from the a la carte menu or go for the lunch/dinner buffet on weekdays or the brunch/dinner buffet on weekends. During Ramadan, the restaurant is calling its buffet the MediterrAsian Bazaar, where you can dig into some Mediterranean favourites with your friends and family. Highlights include Moroccan Braised Lamb Shank, Prime Beef Rib-Eye with Tunisian Rub Spice, and Slow Cooked Baby Lamb.
There are some local and Middle Eastern dishes to enjoy too, such as Beef Rendang and Lamb Moussaka. Don't miss out on the various enticing 'stations'; the Roti John and Kacang Phool station and DIY Rojak stations are definitely worth your time. If you pop in at the weekend, you'll also enjoy an outdoor Barbecue Grill and Satay station, with favourites such as Chicken Satay, Otah Otah, and Fresh Tiger Prawns.
At Days Hotel by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, 1 Jalan Rajah, Singapore 329133, tel: 6808 6847. Visit www.21onrajah.com
2. HARARU IZAKAYA
You might have walked past - or even stepped into - an izakaya while on holiday in Japan, and while there are a few of them in Singapore too, this is the first halal izakaya here. In fact, 'hararu' translates as 'halal', and this eatery invokes an authentic Japanese feel, with a family-orientated atmosphere too.
The extensive menu features lots of Japanese delights, with a good selection of dishes that are charcoal-grilled, from the stove or deep-fried. There's also rice, noodle and ramen dishes, and a list of kushiyaki (skewered and grilled items) with options such as chicken, beef, tofu, and various mushrooms and vegetables too. It wouldn't be a Japanese joint without sashimi and nigiri so don't forget to try those too.
At 16 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199437, tel: 62915373. Visit http://hararuizakaya.com
3. STRAITS KITCHENPhoto: Grand Hyatt Singapore
A lavish buffet spread, theatre kitchens, and cuisines that showcase the best of Singapore - that pretty much sums up what you'll get here. There's Chinese, Indian, Malay and Peranakan food to be enjoyed here and their regular buffet and a la carte menu include favourites such as satay, laksa, chilli crab, roti prata, chicken rice and assorted Nonya kueh. The Ramadan buffet here is a must-try, with highlights such as biryani of the day, authentic Ouzi (slow cooked Arabic spiced lamb shanks served with oriental nut rice), selection of homemade Mezzeh and bread, and mixed seafood grill.
And the Date Bazaar is not to be missed too, with a wide selection of date varieties such as ajwa, mabroum, safawi, sukkary al qasim from Saudi Arabia, nour branched from Tunisia, amary from Egypt, medjoul from South Africa, falastine from Palestine, Pressed fig from Syrian and dried apricot from Turkey.
At Lobby Level, Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211, tel: 6732 1234. Visit https://www.singapore.grand.hyattrestaurants.com/straitskitchen.html
4. PENANG CULTURE
One of the main attractions in Penang is its street food and this restaurant brings the flavours of that Malaysian city to anyone who wants a taste but doesn't want to travel out of Singapore for it. Enter a street food paradise here, with a menu that's filled with familiar comfort food as well as dishes that give new perspectives to old favourites. Penang Assam Laksa is its signature dish, made with specially imported noodles from Penang and cooked in traditional assam gravy.
Other delicious offerings include the Claypot Assam Curry Fish Head, Penang White Curry Mee with Seafood, Penang Rojak, and Penang Thai Mango Chicken. There's even a section of the menu with healthier options, featuring meals below 500 calories, such as Penang Kway Teow Soup and Penang Malay Mee Goreng. The head chef here hails from Penang so you know you're getting authentic Penang hawker food.
At various locations such as Nex Shopping Mall and White Sands Shopping Mall, check website for details. Visit http://www.gdgroup.com.sg/penang-culture
5. THE HALIAPhoto: The Halia
Break your fast in Singapore's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, at this gorgeous restaurant that's located amongst the lush foliage of the Ginger Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Get a table at the al fresco area to fully enjoy the surrounding tropical greenery, or marvel at the stunning views through the full-height glass windows from the dining room. Bring your friends and family here during Ramadan to enjoy the indulgent communal feast menu featuring a selection of 12 dishes, which showcase the restaurant's modern European cuisine with Asian influences.
Try Spiced Wagyu Beef (with hummus, pomegranate and puffed rice), Paperbag Oven-baked Halibut Fillet (with soy and ginger broth, sesame Japanese rice and truffle aioli), Blue Fin Tuna Tartare (with Thai basil and ponzu jelly), and Sticky Toffee Pudding (with dates, butterscotch sauce and sea salt). The menu is meant to be shared amongst four to six persons, for $240++ per feast and is available daily for dinner from May 6 to June 4.
At 1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter via Tyersall Avenue), Singapore 259569, tel: 8444 1148. Visit http://thehalia.com
6. FLAVOUR FLINGS
This neighbourhood cafe serves modern American and French-inspired food and raclette cheese is used in a lot of its dishes so definitely head here if you're a fan of that cheese. Must-try dishes include Salted Egg Yolk Dirty Benny (brioche, turkey breakfast ham, poached eggs, salted egg yolk sauce, buttered cereal, garden salad, chicken sausages), Dada Ayam Pasta (house brown braised sauce, black pepper shredded chicken breast meat, spring onions), and Beef Steak & Raclette (grass-fed New Zealand beef tenderloin steak, baked potatoes, salad greens, topped with melted Swiss raclette cheese).
But perhaps its most interesting offering is Milo with Fried Chicken Pops. Milo powder is drizzled over the pieces of fried chicken and the dish is served with two dips - sambal belachan mayonnaise and nacho cheese. It's definitely an Instagram-worthy meal to share with all your friends.
At Block 121 Hougang Avenue 1, #01-1348, Singapore 530121, tel: 6286 0051. Visit www.facebook.com/flavourflings/
7. AQUAMARINEPhoto: Marina Mandarin Singapore
The buffet spreads here feature the best of Asian and international cuisines; for example, a Spring-themed menu launched in March and April saw diners indulge in an Old School Hong Kong Delights buffet. For Ramadan, a special spread will be served for dinner from May 6 to June 4.
The Iftar meal here features specials such as Deep-fried Crispy Prawn Vadai, 64°C Sous Vide Egg on Mutton Kacang Pool, and Oven-roasted Balinese Black Angus Prime Rib. Catch up with your friends and family over a sumptuous dinner and be entertained by the chefs as they display their culinary skills in the glass-enclosed show kitchen.
At Level 4, Marina Mandarin Singapore, 6 Raffles Boulevard Marina Square, Singapore 039594, tel: 6845 1111. Visit http://www.meritushotels.com/en/marina-mandarin-singapore/dining/aquamarine.html
This article was first published in Her World Online.