Secret Recipe... A not-so-covert international lifestyle cafe.
Secret Recipe is a restaurant slash cafe that serves a fusion of Asian and Western dishes. Originating from Malaysia, they now have branches in other Asian countries like Singapore, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei and even in Australia.
The restaurant exudes a casual ambiance. The cafe color scheme consists of earthy white, brown and black, with splashes of red to give it vibrance. A glass case displaying a miscellany of cakes greets you as you walk through the door.
A huge mural of food photos and black and white portraits cover one side of the wall. A couple of black chandeliers grace the ceiling, while the tables and chairs are kept simple with either a wooden or pristine white theme.
Dark yellow in color, almost brown in hue, the Pumpkin Soup (P95) was warm as I gingerly delibate the briny pottage. Its flavor was full, its consistency smack in between thin and thick. It was lacking something, albeit quite challenging to put my finger on it. A contrasting taste, maybe? Or perhaps a little surprise element like an added texture of sorts.
A bed of steaming hot Beef Lasagna (P170) ensconced in an oval baking dish was served with a home-made bun. I always look forward to tasting lasagnas as it's one of the pasta dishes that probably has the most number of variations across restaurants and home kitchens. You can have a sweet version, a tomatoey one, one with just beef, one with spinach and mushrooms, one loaded with cheese, you get the picture. Well this particular lasagna abounded with ground meat; a tincture of sweetness amidst it sauce and melted cheese.
When I smelled the herb rice that came with the Grilled Mushroom Chicken (P245), it reeked of a rancid odor suggestive of a rice gone bad. I cautiously tasted a few grains, but still I wasn't sure if it was fit for consumption. Halfway through the food, I suddenly overhear the next table complaining about spoiled rice, and I suddenly pushed the plate away. I called the waitress over and had her check the rice in the kitchen, and confirm whether it was really supposed to smell and taste that way or if it was indeed spoiled. She came back and assured us that the damp consistency was just because of the butter. Hmm... I was tempted to tell her that I've had different versions of buttered rice from different restaurants, none of which resembled this fetidness. Anyway, I didn't take another bite of that herb rice and just focused on the chicken -- which was disappointingly tough and the taste a bit brackish and dark.
As the waitress placed the Penang Fried Kuay Teow (P280) at the center of the table, I grabbed a fork in anticipation of my first kuay teow bite. Flat rice noodles interlaced with bean sprouts and carrots glimmer with dabs of oil. A plethora of shrimps, fish cake and squid rings peek out sporadically from underneath. The ribbons of noodles carry with them loads of flavor that concludes on a very spicy note. It took an iron will not to gulp up some water or juice alternately with each hot bite.
Looking at the Irish Lamb Shank (P485), my mouth immediately started to water. Just gazing at it, I was literally salivating at that fall off the bone lamb meat swimming in a stew of vegetables and herbs. The dish was saporous, flavorsome and incredibly satisfying with its oh-so-tender meat and brown sauce that just overflows with savory goodness. It comes with a home-made bun though I'd have preferred some rice. The mashed potatoes would have sufficed if it weren't so one dimensional in texture. But the lamb, oh the lamb, I can't emphasize more how the meat just melts in your mouth leaving an insatiable urge to lick the bones dry and wipe off the plate clean with the bun.
The Mozzarella Baked Fish (P315) is a large fillet of dory enshrouded in gooey mozzarella cheese melted to golden brown-spotted perfection. Dried cherry tomatoes are scattered over and beneath the cheesy blanket, with shredded parsley garnished over the length of the fish. Asparagus spears (sans the heads!) and slices of potatoes complete the dish. The fish, a bit bland and not the juiciest dory I've had, was only made palatable by the tanginess of those little tomato spheres.
For dessert, we went for Lemon Cheesecake (P150). A yellow translucent mantle sits atop a thick layer of frozen cream cheese with a cookie crust for its base. The wedge's walls are marked where lemon rinds have been. There is a nice tartness as you take a forkful of cake, its lemon flavor very apparent and quite strong.
Another cake we've tried is the White Chocolate Macadamia (P95). Alternating layers of sponge cake and creamy white chocolate with an overlay of pale yellow glaze creates an interplay of delicate, subdued flavors perfect for concluding the tartness of the lemon cheesecake. The macadamias were meager in number though a nutty flavor lingers. Definitely a much better ending than the former, for a series of international aliments.
Spot: Level 1 32nd St. cor. 5th Ave., Bonifacio Global City
Contact No.: +632-8562953