Secret Kitchen has been doing well in the Melbourne market, having opened several restaurants, ranging from those that offer a quick bite, to others that serve up a wide array of Chinese dishes in a modern and sleek setting.
Today, I will be recounting my visit to the latter of the two varieties, where I had yum cha on a weekend, something that I definitely don’t do enough. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, yum cha is popular in the Guangzhou province and Hong Kong in particular, the idea is that waiters and waitresses will be pushing carts filled with plates of goodies around the restaurant, and when they reach you, you make pick at your heart’s desire. It can be quite overwhelming at times, given the large variety of dishes, but it is something worth trying.
Braised chicken feet is a must-order for me at yum cha. The chicken feet were deep fried then braised in a sweet soy garlic marinade, and are quite morish to nibble at.
Another classic, the skin of the siu mai was a little too soft, but that was made up with the plump prawn and pork filling.
How can you have siu mai without har gow? These translucent goodies always have me mesmerized. The filling is a lot less finely chopped in comparison to that of the siu mai, which meant you could really taste the plumpness of the prawns.
Onto something more innovative, the prawns in this case were wrapped in a thin, airy and crispy pastry. The wasabi mayo drizzled on top had a good wasabi kick to it, something that a lot of restaurants are lacking.
Back to the more traditional side of things, the tripes had a quite light and delicate flavour.
One of my friend has never tried sticky rice with chicken, so we decided to order it for her sake.
Inside the glutinous rice, there was a filling of chicken and mushrooms that had been braised in soy beforehand. If you were looking for something more carb heavy, this would be a good pick.
The vermicelli rolls were silky smooth, and contrasted well with the freshness of the prawns.
We originally wanted to order some egg tarts for dessert, however they had already sold out unfortunately, which meant we settled for the red bean cake. Nonetheless, these were quite light in texture and not overly sweet.
These buns were quite hard to hunt down, only because the friend that wanted to order them thought they were custard buns rather than salted egg yolk ones, but we did manage to get our hands on them, thankfully.
The crispy top were reminiscent of both the roast pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, and pineapple buns sold in Chinese bakeries. The bun itself was quite sweet, and the salted egg yolk centre was rich and creamy.
Secret Kitchen offers a somewhat less traditional but more enjoyable experience than most yum cha restaurants, and that comes from the atmosphere and service mostly. The food may not be particularly authentic, but they were all enjoyable, and it would be a good place to take those who have never had yum cha before. Remember to make a booking though, especially on the weekend, as the restaurant has become quite popular.
How to get here:
Secret Kitchen is located on level 3 of Doncaster Westfield Shoppingtown, which is accessible via many buses.