restaurants in Metro Manila

Menu, prices: Malaysia’s Secret Recipe is back, opens new branch in Makati City

Steph Arnaldo

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Menu, prices: Malaysia’s Secret Recipe is back, opens new branch in Makati City
Secret's out! Here's what to expect from the dainty Malaysian cake shop, now open at One Ayala Mall serving its famous cakes and Asian dishes.

MANILA, Philippines – Seeing Secret Recipe in Manila a decade ago wasn’t a fever dream of yours – the famous Malaysian cake shop and restaurant was here sometime ago but closed. It has since reopened in the city, now with the help of The Bistro Group!

The secret is finally out – the all-day dining café from Malaysia is now open daily at the al fresco area of One Ayala Mall’s second level in Makati City, serving the cake shop’s generations-old recipes and both old and new Asian dishes, desserts, and handcrafted drinks.

SECRET RECIPE PHILIPPINES. The well-loved Malaysian brand sets foot in Metro Manila once again with a new branch in One Ayala Mall, Makati City. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

“The Philippines is a market we’ve always wanted to be in, especially as a Southeast Asian brand. It’s vibrant and exciting. It was a no-brainer to bring Secret Recipe here,” Patrick Sim, managing director of Secret Recipe Malaysia, told Rappler.

DAINTY AND UNIQUE. Secret Recipe’s quirky charm is evident at the Metro Manila branch, sparing no attention to detail. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Secret Recipe – which was founded in Malaysia in 1997 by Sim’s family and has over 440 branches across Asia – retained its homey, cozy, and colorful concept for its Manila outpost. With the addition of dainty and unique interiors, the modern-contemporary space sets itself apart from the many minimalist coffee shops out there.

AESTHETIC CORNERS. There are seats for intimate gatherings and tables for larger groups. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Spot the pinkish red petals on the ceiling, terrazza countertops, suspended plant box accents, IG-able wall quotes, and oakwood finishes, plus the plush sofa chairs and comfortable group booth seatings!

Menu, prices: Not so secret anymore

Secret Recipe’s menu is mostly Malaysian and Southeast Asian dishes, with some of them slightly adjusted based on the Filipino palate – lower spice levels and less heat, Sim said. Even the coffee blend is exclusively made for Secret Recipe, using locally-sourced coffee beans.

For an introduction on Secret Recipe’s appetizers, the Starter Platter (P545) combines Tomato Tango Drumettes (like a sweet chili chicken wing); Deep-fried Wontons with chicken filling and a sweet chili sauce; Spring Rolls filled with seafood, fish, and chicken; and Chicken Satay, well-marinated grilled chicken skewers with a delicious peanut sauce.

APPETIZERS. Secret Recipe’s Starter Platter and Tropical Cold Chicken Salad to start. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Among Secret Recipe’s refreshing salads are Ceasar Salad (P295/P495), Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken (P350/P550), Crispy Chicken Salad (P275/P575), Citrus Salad (P275/P575), and the Tropical Cold Chicken Salad (P425/P725) with lemongrass grilled chicken, romaine and iceberg lettuce, grilled pineapple, mandarin orange, grapes, cashew, and cilantro.

The prices are split into solo servings and group servings.

As for the mains, we were served Secret Recipe’s Singapore Laksa (P465), the fragrant and spicy soup, served with a side of sambal belacan, which adds most of the umami spice and flavor. The laksa is reminiscent of a creamy yellow sweet curry made with coconut milk (the noodles absorbed the broth pretty quickly), and not so much the red, spicy laksa I initially expected. It was still very comforting, though!

SINGAPORE LAKSA. Chewy rice noodles are soaked in a creamy curry broth. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

There’s also Tom Yum Chicken with Noodles (P450) or with prawns (P495), Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (P450), and Curry Mee (P545).

For the noodle dishes, there’s Malaysia’s signature Seafood Mee Mamak (P395/P745) and Char Kuey Teow (P425/P695), made with charred chewy noodles, bean sprouts, prawns, egg, and taufu pok.

BEEF RANDANG. Malaysia’s famous coconut beef stew is good for two and satisfying with rice. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Beef Rendang (P995) is good for two – the Malaysian coconut beef stew is rich in its creamy, slightly sweet curry sauce, made up of tender and soft beef chunks, carrots, and potato, served with buttered garlic rice for a filling meal.

IRISH LAMB SHANK. Slow-cooked lamb is doused in a rich meaty sauce, perfect with mashed potato on the side. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Our unexpected favorite was Secret Recipe’s Irish Lamb Shank (P2,125), featuring a slow-cooked lamb shank that is fork-tender and easily pulls from the bone. It’s seasoned well, surrounded by a pot roast sauce that’s rich, savory, and meaty, like a deep bourguignon. It’s served with mashed potato and veggies like carrots, shallots, and green beans.

Sim mentioned that Secret Recipe Philippines’ prices are targeted towards the middle and upper range.

HANDCRAFTED REFRESHMENTS. Tropical fruits and fresh ingredients are used for Secret Recipe’s thirst-quenching coolers. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Secret Recipe’s beverages are as pretty as they are refreshing – the bright and zingy Plum Lime Katsuri (P145) mixes lime and calamansi juice sweetened with sugar syrup, while the the Island Cucumber Basil Breeze (P150) tastes like a classic mojito, minus the alcohol – it’s a fresh cucumber and basil medley with tropical island syrup and soda water added.

Of course, you can’t leave Secret Recipe without trying out the famous freshly-made cakes! There’s such a wide array to choose from that it can get overwhelming, but luckily, we decided to try the award-winning Marble Cheesecake (P195/P1,595)!

MARBLE CHEESECAKE. Unlike typical cheesecakes that use graham crust, Secret Recipe uses a light oats and nuts crust that provides a nice, slightly crunchy chew. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It’s a dense but light cheesecake with a delicate oats and nuts crust, with marbled chocolate swirled into the creamy base that isn’t too sweet (actually, most of Secret Recipe’s formulas don’t pack on the sugar, which I appreciate).

RED VELVET. Tasting like a classic red velvet cake, Secret Recipe adds its own spin with the use of apricot-beet jam in between layers of cake. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Red Velvet Cake (P195/P1,595) is an interesting take on the classic cake flavor – Secret Recipe’s version has moist red velvet sponge cake in between thin layers of apricot-beet compote, which adds a subtly fruity and tart contrast to the cream cheese frosting.

BOSTON CHOCOLATE CAKE. Layers of chocolate meet together to form a chocolatey but not too heavy dessert. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

We also tried the Boston Chocolate (P175/P1,295), a flavor for the chocoholics who like soft chocolate spongecake, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache layered together to form an airy and light dessert. Each Secret Recipe cake slice is served on a plate that’s decorated with a quote of the day in edible syrups and chocolate sauces.

CAKES ON CAKES. Secret Recipe encourages guests to enjoy a slice of cake in the restaurant with a cup of tea, or bring home whole cakes for special occasions. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

There’s also coffee, tea, pastries, sandwiches, and other desserts on the menu.

Sim told Rappler that the brand, along with The Bistro Group, is planning to open two to three more outlets in Metro Manila this year, with one of them possibly being at Shangri-La Plaza Mall. –

For more information, you can check out Secret Recipe Philippines on Facebook.

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.