I have detached “Food Trip” from its parent category “Philippines”, because Food Trip is going international! Yey!
We went early into Singapore’s Vivo City (10 AM to be exact, just as the mall opened), to make the most out of the day. By 11 AM we were already hungry and started looking for somewhere we could eat, but we were surprised that apart from the fast food outlets and cafes, most of the restaurants would not open until half an hour later. Back at home (Manila), all shops – restaurants included, would open as soon as the mall does, but apparently not in this place.
There were less than a handful that were already up for business by then, and one of those was Secret Recipe. It’s a restaurant chain that you’ll find pretty much everywhere in Singapore, from the airport to the malls. Pretty much like what Pancake House is back home, I guess.
Secret Recipe already has a small presence in Manila, via four outlets scattered across various malls, but I haven’t tried any of those yet, and so my first taste of their cooking would be in distant Singapore. Though they are primarily a cake and pastry shop (or a “lifestyle cafe”, as they call themselves) they do have a multinational menu, ranging from Malay curry based dishes, to pastas from the other side of the world. (Manila’s menu may vary though, as is common among food chains that operate across borders).
For our lunch, we ordered the Spaghetti with Meatballs and the Grilled Chicken. Both orders came as value meals with drinks (iced tea) included, each for 10 SGD (Singapore Dollars). That’s more than 300 in Philippine Pesos, but I guess that’s how “value meals” in Singapore go. We also ordered the Cream of Broccoli soup for our little tot, and they put some complimentary chips on our table right after we ordered, which was delightful.
We’re used to food chains scrimping on ingredients, especially when it comes to “value meals”, but I felt none of that in Secret Recipe. The “value meal” spaghetti came topped with a generous amount of crushed tomatoes, and abundant meatballs. The chicken fillet also came as a sizable chunk, with more than enough sauce slathered over it. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it was value for money.
Quality and taste-wise, the food was also pretty good, for a restaurant chain. It’s not something “addictive”, ala Pepper Lunch, but it’s certainly not something that you’d cross off your list. It’s not compelling enough to really go out of the way for, but I wouldn’t mind ending up there from time to time, for a quick meal. The service was good as well, although since we were there very early, there were still very few people inside (which means that I can’t vouch for how the service would be during peak time).
Overall, we were pleased with our lunch, though I have to admit that we didn’t bring sky high expectations when we went in. Even though restaurant chains like these are far from being “fast food”, their food still goes though some form of “mass production”, even if the final cooking is only done once ordered. In this regard, the quality and quantity of the food that came our way in Secret Recipe, was a bit of a pleasant surprise. If you happen to go hungry in the mall, and are looking for a quick, sit-down lunch that wouldn’t hurt the palate, as much as it wouldn’t hurt the wallet (again by Singapore standards), then this place is worth a shot.
* We ate here last March 2011. All photos taken with Olympus E420 and Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5.