Worth getting your ass out of bed for

Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but The Halia wants to make it the most beautiful one too. The local restaurant, now practically an institution at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, has brought back their breakfast menu, available exclusively on weekdays from 9-11am. The best part—since receiving their Halal certification in June 2017, the restaurant has perfected an inclusive menu everyone can enjoy. And amid the garden’s curated flora, becoming a morning person might actually be possible.

If you’ve always protested against a “heavy” breakfast, the new menu will surely change your mind. The smashed avocado on toasted sourdough ($12/$22) isn’t just one of the prettier things on the menu; it’s tasty too. The sourdough is spread generously with fresh avocado, and topped with sweet and juicy tomatoes, lightly tossed in ginger flower dressing so they’re light and fresh. Note the ginger flower here—it’s a signature staple in many other Halia dishes; “halia” of course meaning ginger in Malay.

For something a little more local (and a little less predictable), there’s the chilli crab eggs ($14), Halia’s spunky take on the classic coffeeshop soft-boiled eggs. The dish overall is hearty, warm and sweet; the eggs making a nice change from the tanginess of the chilli crab.

Also worth trying is the braised wagyu “nasi lemak” ($22), which stands out surprisingly not for its masala beef, but for the sambal. The aforementioned ginger flower shines again in sambal form—light and fragrant, and lingering at the back of your tongue to get you shovelling down continuous spoonfuls. Our tip: savor it! Manufacturing it is labor-intensive, as the flowers are seasonal and pounded by hand; you only get a small dollop to ration throughout your meal.

For those who want a truly quick breakfast-to-go, the banana & almond smoothie ($7) is the one to grab. Made with a blend of banana, almond, vanilla extract, yogurt and honey, it’s smooth and refreshing, and the perfect morning milk. The drink is just one of seven herbarium drinks, as part of Halia’s new herbarium beverage menu, conceptualized as a replacement for the previous alcohol offerings. The drinks are made with herbs found in the gardens themselves, and packed with nutritional goodness.

It’s succinct, but the new breakfast menu provides more than enough options for a hearty breakfast. Most of the menu, unfortunately, doesn’t translate over to the weekend brunch selection, which should be reason enough to make it down one day before work—a seemingly impossible task, but well worth it. It looks like 16 years on, The Halia is still doing things right.