Secret Garden @ Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya

January 3, 2017

When we entered at 6pm on a recent Sunday, Secret Garden seemed to be exactly what its name promised: A private sanctuary of calm, easy on the eyes with its leafy embellishments & charming murals spread across a bright, stylish space. By the time we left two hours later, this Taiwanese-inflected Chinese restaurant was packed with patrons, a testament to its allure as an intriguing new venue. Through the entire experience, the food remained engaging & the service was sterling, from the genuinely gracious welcome at the entrance to the consistent work by the eaterys entire team to fulfil their customers needs.

The MSG-free menu is encyclopedic - its worth heading here in a huge posse, hungry for everything from Taiwanese three-cup chicken to Hakka mui choy kau yoke, coconut curry grouper head to sha cha lamb, triple-yolk steamed eggs to mapo tofu. Recently, Secret Garden introduced distinctive steamboat sets; select a refillable broth of Premium Wild Forest Truffle & Mushrooms (RM88; cooked overnight, unmistakably aromatic & well-balanced in its flavours) or Imperial Chicken (RM78), then pick from nearly 80 possibilities of freshly hand-made dumplings, premium meat, seafood & vegetables to cook in the pot.

Start with the tobiko squid balls, cutely shaped as little penguins, tender critters with carrot nibs for their beaks & feet; other tantalising options include black truffle balls, cheese prawn balls, mushroom pork balls & fried lobster salad balls (RM12-RM22). Jiaozi-style dumplings also prove appealing, kitchen-crafted with fillings like seafood or pork with chives (RM12-RM20); order those alongside Secret Gardens own prawn or fish paste (RM16-RM18). We loved the smooth, succulent sliced Iberico pork (RM38), but if youre prepared to splurge, you can take things to the next level with Japanese Matsusaka or Sendai beef. Theres also a full oceans bounty of seafood - scallops, sea cucumber, fish maw, jellyfish, sturgeon, crabs, clams & much more; for extra protein, the organic black bean tofu seems like a wholesome bet (RM10). For fibre, the range spans pumpkin (RM8) & corn to yam & greens galore, with imported Taiwanese bamboo charcoal ramen (RM5) for a tummy-filler if necessary. Bolstered by a lovely selection of sauces & garnishes (were fans of the textured, tasty sand ginger), this is certainly a slurp-worthy steamboat that satisfied everyone at our table.

Secret Gardens a la carte repertoire hits the spot too - the classic dongpo rou is pork belly at its most sensually irresistible, carefully braised for six hours & coupled with steamed buns for perfect gravy-mopping (RM38 for a medium size). Steamed free-range chicken, fed with high-protein duckweed, is an off-menu dish that some customers might want to request, endowed with firm flesh & thick, slick skin. Wrap up with noodles & rice - the sang har freshwater prawn crispy noodles is a competent rendition of this crowd-pleaser (RM38), while the braised pork rice with tong sum eggs is soul-soothing comfort food (RM8). Reliable red wine is offered by the bottle if you need something stronger than tea; our thanks to Secret Garden for having us.

Secret Garden
7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15, Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Open daily, 1130am-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Tel: 03-7887-6999

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; its the Klang Valleys foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings, F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits. Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/d/5106C196432BB23D

The Eat Drink KL mobile app is now available, connecting restaurants & customers to promote a positive spirit of community. Every restaurant on this app rewards users with a 6 percent discount, instantly & conveniently, everyday, all day long. In return, users share photos of their experiences at these eateries, creating a new community of restaurant lovers. For every transaction, at least RM0.10 will be channelled to a charity of the month.

Buckle your seatbelts: Eat Drink KL is partnering with Uber to take restaurant lovers on new adventures across KL & Selangor!
If you havent used Uber yet, its time to begin! For new users, just follow the steps below to redeem free rides:
1. Download the Uber app from the App Store, Play Store or Windows Store - and register your Uber account.
2. Apply the code EATDRINKKL as your first promotional code & youll receive 2 Free Rides worth RM30 each.
3. Request a ride through the app and ride for free to any destination (with two ride values of up to RM30 each).