Secret Kitchen x Chef Dai Long (Invited)

Monday, June 26, 2017 Sharon Halim 0 Comments

After being momentarily lost in the floors of Doncaster's Westfield, we finally found Secret Kitchen. I was surprised by how much the whole place reminded me of the dims restaurants I've been to across the world. Large banquet style hall? Check. Haphazard organised chaos? Check. Super sassy and alert head waiter? Gotcha. 

We were seated in a large circle table with a massive lazy Susan at the back of the restaurant so we couldn't really hear all the commotion going on in the stage. But that didn't matter, the outrageously hilarious company I had on my table definitely made up for the things on the stage! Anyway, on to what we ordered!

Rooster's Neck. I ordered this drink thinking that it was going to be something like a mulled wine. While it certainly looked like one, it certainly did NOT taste like one. It had a spirit called Moutai Prince that just literally, had a face-punch effect with one sip. My table mates who ordered the same drink also jerked back and shook their head as the drink was so strong. Some people just plain refused to drink it after their first sip! Personally, the drink did go down better after a few more sips with the meal, but wow, one of the strongest drinks I've ever had. 

Garden Salad. It really feels weird having a massive bowl of garden salad dropped in front of us as this is supposed to be a Chinese banquet. Served with a mustardy sauce that had a medicinal aftertaste, it felt like a starter that was placed just for the sake of putting a salad appetiser because this is Melbourne. Overall, it wasn't the best of salads and it was pretty standard. As one of the foodies in our table put it "I'm not wasting my stomach space for that! Have you seen the rest of the menu? Suckers!". 

Foie Gras with Honey Seasoned Baked Tomato & Osmanthus. While the foie gras on its own was really savoury and succulent, the whole combination just didn't make sense to me. Our waiter told us to eat the foie gras and the cracker first, and eat the tomato last. But while the elements themselves on its own were good, combined they were weird. Not sure why they've paired the foie gras with a ritz-like cheese cracker. 

Signature Suckling Pig - avocado, cucumber, hoisin on mantou. Loved the unique pairing of this dish! It is definitely an interesting take on those classic roast duck Chinese pancakes you get in Chinese restaurants. The mantou was super soft and springy, and the avocado and hoisin added this lovely creaminess to the whole dish. The pork crackling was also divine. Almost wafer thin and super crisp! Moving on to Greenlip Abalone with Sea Cucumber in Chicken Broth. Wow now this dish just brought memories of massive Chinese weddings that I attended - they always serve this soup! The soup was beautifully warm, both in temperature and in its pepperiness. The abalone and the sea cucumber added some nice contrasts to the soup. My partner especially loved this soup because it made here feel really cozy against the winter cold!

Crispy Prawn in Hawthorn Berry Sauce. While the soup brought memories of Chinese weddings, these prawns brought me back to my childhood Chinese new year festivities. The succulent, giant prawns were accompanied by this deep red sauce that was both sweet and tart at the same time. It is this exact sauce that tasted exactly like these small red disc candies that I used to get as a child! I didn't really like the sauce because it was just too sweet to be honest. But overall, I liked how crisp the giant prawn coatings are.

Sauteed Fresh Pearl Meat and Scallop. I know this dish was designed and prepared by the so-called God of Cookery of Hong Kong, but this dish, rather than being overly fancy, was homey in a very good way. The  vegetables added a nice freshness after all the meats we've consumed (and the more to come) and the scallops were really fresh. It was a simple dish, but beautifully prepared.

Fresh Coral Trout Fillet Rolled with Salted Duck Yolk and Basil. The fillet was so evenly prepared that I had mistaken it for a spring roll at first. Upon cutting it open though, it was indeed, a fillets with what I think was a spring onion that's wrapped inside. I loved the salted duck yolk sauce on top as it gave this delicious savoury-saltiness to the relatively plain fish. Overall, I would've liked some element of freshness into the dish as the whole thing was just too oily. 

Emperor Fried Rice. Don't you just love it when Chinese dishes have words like Emperor, Royal, Emerald as descriptors of dishes? I don't know why I find it to be cute. This fried rice dish was our table's favourite. I don't know how the chefs did it, but the super evenly organised fish roe on top looked like these beautiful glimmering gems. The fried rice has the characteristic wok-charred taste and scent that characterises a good Chinese fried rice! The contrasts of texture from both the tobiko and the pieces of wild rice scattered about made it really nice to chew on. It felt very hearty and comforting, and as one of the people on our table commented, it is the dish you'd want to have when you're bingeing on Netflix. 

Mouitai Chicken. Our waiter opened the claypot and this mouthwatering waft of ginger just kapows you in the face. This was the long-awaited dish that everyone was waiting for. We were way too full by this time. The chicken was perfectly cooked and super succulent. The ginger sauce and the Moutai was also marinated very well into the chicken. 

Wok Seared Wagyu Beef and Wild Boar with Emperor sauce. Everyone at our table did a tiny groan as to how full they were when this massive long platter of meats clanked in front of us. While the beef looked really dry, it wasn't really as dry as I expected. There wasn't a lot of seasoning going on with both the beef and the boar, but they were both still tender. The sauce that came with it was very similar to the dressing we had for the salad, but less medicinal.  

Baked Wild Mushrooms with Emerald Sauce. While not the best-looking this dish, this herby sauce that tastes like very mild pasta. Not sure whether it was actually baked because the colour was just plain green, like very guac green. The mushrooms were good but I just wished this was introduced earlier on in the banquet because it'll be nice to have a good vegetable course among all the meats. 

Glutinous Rice Ball with Mango Filling and Seasonal Fruits. Slightly questionable presentation of the dish. The sad, lonesome mochi placed in the middle was definitely the star of the dish (literally, plated smack dab in the middle of the weird 'star' sign in the place). Super chewy and soft, the mango filling was just to die for and I would love to have more of the mochi on its own! The fruits just felt like an afterthought that they decided to drop in the plate to make it look fuller. 

Overall, the food was all good, although I would've liked more variations on textures and flavours as our massive ten course meal was mostly meat-oriented and oily. The dishes might not have a lot of thought placed into how they should be plated, but it was just like any other standard Chinese restaurants. The good food was definitely amped up by the one of the best table crowds I've had the pleasure of meeting! 

Secret Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Secret Kitchen
Westfield Doncaster
Shop L2-2003
619 Doncaster Rd
Melbourne, VIC 3108