Travel like a local

Secret Garden


This is a good example of a restaurant which needs two reviews...

1. For couples & families on holiday

A beautiful rooftop setting with colourful lanterns and ornaments, with friendly staff who speak English and a large menu with quality photos and English translations. You will probably enjoy the Vietnamese food in a comfortable setting, cheaper than you could dream of at home.

2. For foodies

I had delayed visiting this restaurant since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. The English name, the photos of the decor, the menu and the reviews all set off alarm bells that it would be just like dozens of similar "local food for tourists" restaurants I've been to across Southeast Asia. They are rarely bad but almost always boring or average. However, I was planning a trip to the cinema nearby so I thought I'd give it a chance...

I had the ribs (115k) which are the first thing on the menu and came recommended by the waitress as the most popular item. I also had mackerel in tomato sauce (95k) and steamed rice (10k).

For a restaurant of this style and price-range I was amazed they didn't give a free glass of water (the cheapest drink was a bottle of water at 5 times the price of the shops downstairs). The mackerel was pretty tasty with crispy skin and a nice sauce that was lacking a kick but I enjoyed it.

Then I had to wait quite a while for the ribs, even though there was only one other table eating, but I wasn't in a rush so it wasn't a problem. The ribs were nice and chunky with a sweet sesame seed glaze. The meat wasn't as tender as I'd like it but it was ok. It was messy as all ribs are when you need to eat with your hands. However, the restaurant has chosen not to put any tissues or napkins on the tables, despite ribs being their most popular dish. Instead they sell packets of wet napkins but they forgot to put one on my table so I was forced to use the bathroom to wash my hands. Considering the overpriced food, you'd think they might be a bit more considerate to their customers rather than squeezing every last bit of money.

When the bill arrived, obviously there was 10% tax added (something that doesn't happen at local places) but there was also a charge for a napkin that I wasn't even offered. I know it's unrelated to food quality but this is the kind of act that is unacceptable at any restaurant.


Average food for tourists and a business that seems to care more about the pennies than your experience.

Overall rating... 6/10