VIDEO: Romantic Dining in Nature: Tamarind Hill and Halia

Singapore’s natural beauty makes the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner, and fine dining establishments like Tamarind Hill in the Labrador Nature Reserve offer couples a unique experience away from the concrete jungle.

I visited the modern Thai restaurant to do a story for the American Association of Singapore and had the pleasure of meeting Executive Chef Thiti Thammanatr, a Thai-Canadian who has worked with top chefs in Canada. In this video, he invites us into his kitchen to demonstrate a few of his signature dishes. The restaurant’s remote location in the southern part of the island is part of its charm. With nothing around except lush forest and the South China Sea, Tamarind Hill is a destination restaurant that encourages guests to linger over a nice meal and ambiance.

Another restaurant designed for romantic dining in nature is Halia in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Halia — Malay for “ginger” — serves Asian-inspired European cuisine in the Ginger Garden in the middle of the park. You’re surrounded by greenery, making it a peaceful alternative to the cluster of upscale restaurants in Dempsey Hill or the CBD (Central Business District).

Many of the dishes and cocktails incorporate ginger, in line with the restaurant’s theme and the fact that the garden has more than 250 species of gingers.

My husband and I had dinner there with another couple and opted for the five-course Garden Journey Tasting Menu. I especially enjoyed the frog leg porridge of oats with ginger, spring onion and coriander and Hiramasa Kingfish with parmesan and almond crust, curried cauliflower and potato leaves.

We created a Tastemade video (see below), but as you can see, lighting is by candlelight, which is great for ambience… bad for filming. Adding to the intimate setting, a man proposed to his girlfriend at the next table, and the restaurant applauded the special occasion.

As for the meal, the portions were small, but the dishes were tasty so we left feeling satisfied. When you eat dinner at a place like this, you’re really paying for the experience and service, not the amount of food you get.

So if you’re looking for a unique dining experience away from the typical haunts in the CBD or any of the crowded Quays, look to nature for a romantic retreat.