Monday, February 4, 2008

Secret Recipe

Secret Recipe
Location :
5th Avenue corner 32nd Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Tel #: +63 (2) 856-2953
Menu Price Range : Php 120.00 - Php 430.00
Service Charge:
Rating : B+

At first glance, Secret Recipe appears to be just another cafe riding on the coattails of Starbucks and Seattle's Best. After all, the branding, stylish interiors, and even the friendly staff are hallmarks of these franchises. Where Secret Recipe deviates from this formula, however, is that, rather than concentrating on their teas and coffees, the focus of this Malaysian-based lifestyle cafe chain is their menu - especially their desserts.

In fact, you will soon learn that Secret Recipe has several award-winning dishes under their belt ranging from their Irish Lamb Stew to their Marble Cheesecake. With branches in several countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and China, you begin to wonder if perhaps the secret recipes of Secret Recipe has been somehow lost in translation. Fortunately, as I would soon learn, this is definitely not the case.

Although there are some similarities between Secret Recipe and other franchise cafes, its interior was actually quite spacious and brightly lit. Their furnishings were minimalistic but elegant with aluminum and plastic chairs contrasting with the iron-wrought chandeliers. The artwork of their cuisine on the wall reminded me quite a bit of UCC Cafe, but, fortunately, the menu isn't nearly as exorbitant.

Grilled Mushroom Chicken
Price: Php 190.00
Rating: C

Consisting of a chicken breast smothered in a mushroom gravy, this dish was accompanied by a healthy side salad and seasoned rice. First of all, serving the salad with the chicken breast was a bad idea. The thousand island dressing mixed with the gravy, resulting in a combination that wasn't very appetizing.

The chicken breast was also quite bony and sinewy, making it somewhat bothersome to eat. The rice, however, was a good match for the gravy. Portions were pretty generous and quite filling.

Lasagne (Chicken)
Price: Php 135.00 (choice of beef or chicken)
Rating: B+

A meaty and filling lasagna smothered with a rich marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a very healthy amount of ground chicken. This dish was baked and served in a deep dish. I enjoyed this dish far more than the Grilled Mushroom Chicken. It was served pipping hot, but once it cooled down, it made for a very hearty meal. Although the taste of the chicken was faint, the large serving size and reasonable price garnered it a B+.

Green Apple Kasturi

Price: Php 110.00
Rating: A-

I admit being hesitant about this drink initially. I'm not really that much of a fan of green apples and, when it was first served, it appeared a bit coagulated.

Fortunately, it tastes a lot better than it looks. The tart green apple flavor is quite refreshing and the taste is actually very addictive. It tastes a bit like Italian soda, but is a bit more exotic. I'd recommend that you try this refreshment at least once.

Marble Cheesecake
Price: Php 110.00 (slice) Php 1,200.00 (whole)
Rating: A

I can understand how this cheesecake managed to win accolades. It is the quintessential cheesecake: simple, tasty, and silky smooth. It wasn't too sweet or tart like some of the lesser cheesecakes on the market, achieving a great balance and astounding flavor. The crunchy oat nut base compliments the creamy cheesecake tremendously, making this dessert devilishly addictive.

Chocolate Mud Cake
Price: Php 110.00 (slice) Php 1,200.00 (whole)
Rating: A

First of all, let me state for the record that I'm not a fan of chocolate cakes. I find most of them sickeningly sweet, but, despite this, I found myself enjoying this award-winning concoction. Filled with semi-sweet chocolate fudge, it was creamy, silky and smooth without being overly sweet. In many ways, it was similar to a chocolate mousse in texture, but, all in all, it's an amazing dessert that you simply have to experience.


The dishes were a bit of a mixed bag. Some were good while others were somewhat below par. Food portions were generous, but I really didn't like mixing the salad dressing and the main dish on the same plate. Secret Recipe is known for its desserts, however, and this is where it truly shines. The cakes were very scrumptious and addictive although the slices were fairly petite.

Ambiance: Secret Recipe does a good job of emulating the trendy cafe, giving the impression of class while at the same time remaining simple and classic. The establishment was very spacious and comfortable although it could've used more couches as the plastic and aluminum chairs weren't very comfortable. Surprisingly, there was no outdoor area and smoking isn't permitted in the premises.

Value: Some dishes were very affordable while others were quite pricey. The salads and some of the Italian pastas were a very good value (from Php 100.00 to Php 135.00) while other dishes such as the Singapore Laksa and Fish and Chips were expensive (around Php 300.00 and above.) Teas and coffees were affordable, but juices and smoothies can be a bit steep. Their desserts were excellent, but also quite expensive considering the portions.

Service: Overall, their service was excellent. The servers were very friendly and quite knowledgeable - eager to make suggestions as to which dish we should sample. We were served our food promptly and without any hassles.

Overall: Whether you're out on a date or on an outing with friends, Secret Recipe provides a comfortable and relatively affordable dining experience. A wide assortment of food, drinks, and desserts adorn their menu with dishes that range from traditional salads and pastas to spicy soups and laksa.

Secret Recipe allows you to sample dishes from a variety of cultures as well as signature desserts that are simply mouth-watering. All in all, it is a haven for adventurous diners willing to sample the different flavors of the orient and beyond.

© 2008 Pablo Bairan


Franco said...

Enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks.:)

Pablo Bairan said...

@franco: Thanks for reading them :) I hope they were helpful. People have been suggesting places to eat and we're glad to check them out (time and finances permitting.)

As much as possible, we'd like our reviews candid, however, with the establishment not really knowing they're being reviewed (to get a better picture of how they operate day-to-day.) There's a chance that we could catch them on an off-day, but it's much better than allowing the eatery to prepare in advance for a review that won't provide an accurate picture of their usual operations.

We also prefer to be low-key, so photos might not be the greatest as they're being taken stealthily from a cellular phone camera or some other unassuming device.

Gay Carrillo said...

Thanks for all these resto reviews.