From the outside, the facade of Secret Garden looks just like any other shop-lot restaurant. The moment you step in, its refreshing whimsical interior decor will have you pausing in admiration. Its team of interior designers have done a good job in transforming the space into a comfortable and unique setting, reflecting its name.
A natural foliage wall and hanging lights encased in bird cages set the pace for a secret garden while specially-commissioned hand-painted murals on other walls lend a mystical charm to the restaurant.
Unlike conventional Chinese restaurants, the seating in Secret Garden is a pleasant combination of round and rectangular tables with a long counter-top for communal dining. I like how the tables are spaced out nicely which allows for more comfortable dining.
The menu in Secret Garden focuses on Taiwanese “shi fang chai”, loosely translated as “family home’s private kitchen” and in this respect, offering home-cooked food using the most natural and wholesome ingredients.
As the restaurant is just a few months old, some of its menu items are still being fine-tuned but we got a taste of some of their signature dishes recently. We started off with a huge plate of Crispy Deep-fried Prawn Crackers. Encased within the piping hot crunchy beancurd skins, the delicious prawn paste proved to be pretty addictive. We actually had a second serving – it was that good, especially when dipped into that fiery piquant house-made chilli sauce.
Crispy Deep-fried Prawn Crackers (RM38)
To further whet our appetite, we had the nourishing Home-styled Taiwanese Chicken Soup boiled with pickled pineapples and bitter melon. Light and tasty, the soup had hints of tanginess to temper the bitter melon.
Taiwanese Chicken Soup with Pickled Pineapples & Bitter Melon (RM18)
From the glorious yellowness of the skin and gravy, it’s clear the Steamed free-range Chicken served was bred on premium feed. As it turned out, the duckweed feed used in breeding this poultry had resulted in chickens with incredible taste and texture. Secret Garden’s two special dips were also instrumental in enhancing the dining experience for this dish.
Steamed Free-range Chicken with Home-made Sauce
We were looking forward to Secret Garden’s signature classical Dong Po Pork Belly and we weren’t disappointed. The wobbly cubes of perfectly-layered pork belly had to be tied with some strings to maintain the shape and retain the natural juices of the meat. The gravy from the lengthy braising was totally delicious and we just had to have some steamed mantou to mop up every drop of it!
Signature Taiwanese-style Braised Dong Po Pork Belly (RM38)
If you love curries but often feel guilty about the cholesterol-laden coconut milk used, Secret Garden’s Garoupa Fish Head Curry will have you enjoying this dish guilt-free as fresh milk is used instead. With okra, brinjals, cabbage and tofu puffs simmered in the spicy curry, it’s hard not to have some plain rice with this!
Garoupa Fish Head in Yellow Curry with Fresh Milk (RM56)
We really couldn’t resist the Pan-fried Fresh King Prawns glistening with sticky premium soya sauce. Bursting with fresh sweet flavours, the heads were full of sinful creamy roe!
Pan-fried Fresh King Prawns with Soya Sauce (RM88)
More goodness came in the form of home-made tofu using organic black soyabeans, topped with chopped preserved radish, crunchy dried prawns and bathed in a thick pumpkin gravy.
Home-made Organic Black Soyabean Tofu in Pumpkin Gravy
We rounded off dinner with a plate of Taiwanese-style stir-fried fragrant Garlic Chives with Minced Pork and Fried Rice with pork belly spiced with XO sauce.
Stir-fried Garlic Chives with Minced Pork (RM25)
Pork Belly Fried Rice with XO Sauce
Herbal Jelly with Wild Honey
Secret Garden’s owners and chefs aspire to nourish every diner with wholesome, comforting home-cooked food in a refreshing and relaxing garden-like oasis. As far as the dishes we sampled and with the lovely ambience of the restaurant, Secret Garden is moving in that direction, for sure.
So here’s another new restaurant to check out, especially with the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities, it’s time to make some reservations!
7 & 9 Jalan SS23/15
47301 Petaling Jaya
email: info @secretgarden.my