Secret Recipe is a café restaurant chain from Malaysia with restaurants throughout South East Asia. In recent years, they have started opening branches in China as well. Their menu presents dishes that you’ll find in a typical Malaysian hawker center, those raucous outdoor eating markets where customers gather to eat their favourite laksa, Hokkien mee, fried kueh teow and curries. As with hawker centers, there are also western dishes like fish and chips, grilled chicken and pasta.
Hangzhou’s Secret Recipe has an upscale location at Xihu Tiandi right next to the West Lake on Nanshan Road. The restaurant is very pretty with floor-to-ceiling windows around the perimeter letting in beautiful natural light and showing off the surrounding greenery.
Being big fans of laksa, we were eager to try the Singapore Laksa (45RMB) and the Sarawak Laksa (42RMB) but unfortunately, both were watery and didn’t have enough coconut milk or spice. The Mee Goreng (42RMB) was overpowered by ketchup flavoured sauce. The Malaysia Chicken Satays (28RMB) were dry.
I did like the Singapore Hokkien Mee (42RMB), although it is a bit of an acquired taste because of the pungent sambal belacan - a chilli and dried shrimp paste. It’s a mix of shrimps, fish cake, squid, egg noodles and rice noodles. The seafood was fresh and had good texture. It came with little globe-shaped calamansi limes that you should squeeze over the noodles before eating. This hodge podge of ingredients came about after WWII when Fujian sailors in Singapore gathered together after a day of working in noodle factories and cooked the leftover noodles. A broth made from stewing prawn heads, clams and dried fish is also an essential part of Hokkien Mee. When you first eat it, after the initial fishiness passes, the sweetness from the seafood and broth lingers in a pleasing way. The more I ate it, the more I liked it.
The Durian Durian Cake (28RMB) was the highlight of the meal and it was enjoyed by all at the table. There are 4 layers of vanilla cake and 3 layers of durian frosting and you can definitely taste and see the durian fruit.
Drinks are reasonably priced for the location with prices from 12-28RMB and includes soft drink, coffees, teas, juices, milkshakes and smoothies.
Smoking is not permitted and parking can be found in some side streets off Nanshang Road.
There are five more branches in Hangzhou, they are: B027, Phase 2, Hubin InTime Mall, 258 Yan'an Road 延安路258号湖滨银泰2期B027号铺; B1/F, Mixc Mall, 701 Fuchun Road 富春路701号万象城B1层; B119, Zhongda InTime Mall, 822 Dongxin Road 东新路822号中大银泰城内B119; 2/F, InTime Mall, West Lake Culture Plaza, North Huancheng Road; 环城北路西湖文化广场银泰百货2楼; B1/F, InTime Mall, 380 Fengtan Road 丰潭路380号城西银泰城B1楼