26 February 2010

Oriental Secrets

Craving some spicy Asian goodness, but lamenting the fact that we seem to have already visited all of Beaufort Street’s scant supply of oriental eateries, the Bloggers were transported with delight to discover that their favourite Asian takeaway on Chelmsford Road actually has a Beaufort Street address. (Well, at least according to one website, but that was good enough for us.)

Oriental Secrets is tucked away up Chelmsford Road behind Caffissimo (home to the once-unbeatable Eggs-On-Fire, but more on that later) and is indeed so secretive and inconspicuous that the Sponge and BOOTO had walked past it every Saturday for almost 2 years without it registering. It is a strange place, more akin to a hairdresser than a high-calibre takeaway operation, with a door (invariably open) behind the counter leading straight into the owners’ house. This gives the fantastic impression that you are ordering food in someone’s lounge room, and allows one to occasionally catch a glimpse of Mr and Mrs Secrets sitting on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars in their jim-jams. This impression spills over into the front-of-shop too: while technically a dine-in restaurant, the tiny 2 or 3 table space out the front will often be strewn with newspapers, toys, laundry and shoes, giving it a distinctly lived-in feel. Suffice it to say, the Bloggers have never seen anyone actually attempting to dine in, and decided to tackle this one as a takeaway option.

But on to the food: At risk of flogging the term to death, Oriental Secrets offers a “pan-Asian” experience, with standard Chinese offerings spiced up (pardon the pun) by some Malaysian, Thai and assorted noodle dishes.

Starters are quite a strange affair at Oriental Secrets: on paper, all the old favourites are there (prawn toast, spring rolls, satay sticks etc) however they come served in a c.1982-style Big Mac box with a squeegee pack of an “appropriate” type of sauce (which in the case of the prawn cutlets, oddly, was tomato sauce). Whether it’s their preparation or the polystyrene coffin they come served in, the starters are often quite soggy and not particularly tasty. The Bloggers have in the past compensated for this by simply foregoing starters and ordering another main or six. Or (as on this occasion) simply ordering a shitload of food and then just leaving the bits you don’t want (well, at least until the compulsory booze-fuelled second-sitting at around 11pm).

The mains are fantastic: pepper beef was a particular stand-out, with so much pepper you could just about carve it. Szechuan chicken was juicy and spicy, and the chilli squid, spare ribs and pork dumplings were bloody magnificent. Not for the faint of heart though – Mr and Mrs Secrets definitely err on the side of spicy. Something (or perhaps everything) in the heaped medley of Oriental loveliness on the Sponge’s plate had enough shtang in it to reduce him to a mewling baby. And necessitate the consumption of 85 lagers.

Deserts were, of course, omitted.

The real kicker about Oriental Secrets though is the price – $95 bought the 4 bloggers about a million main courses with rice and noodles, which necessitated BOOTO and the Brains (being the designated picker-uppers) having to take a backpack. All served with a very nostalgic little plastic bag of rice crackers and 4 fortune cookies to celebrate Chinese New Year.

In summary:

Service: Friendly and top notch. (We should mention that, some months ago, BOOTO and the Sponge ordered some takeaway which they were told would take around 30mins to arrive. Worried that she would not be able to make this deadline, Mrs Secrets ended up bundling her young son up into the car and delivering it herself, then knocking $10 off the price because she was around 2 minutes “late”. Exceptional.)

Food: Other than the limp starters, top quality pan-Asian. (Shit, I said it again.)

Ambience: “Homey”

Highlight: Pepper beef. And the price. And the prawn crackers.

Lowlight: The limp starters. And catching a glimpse of Dancing with the Stars.

Rating: 3.7 secretive orientals out of 5.

Will we be back: Definitely, although not to dine in. Offers a lot of good quality, cheap and varied dishes from many different Asian countries. (That’s better.)

Details: Oriental Secrets is either at 5b Chelmsford Road or Shop 1, 595 Beaufort Street (depending on which website you believe) and can be contacted on 9227 9578. $95 for the amount of food we ordered is pretty incredible. Really.


Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

Oh, brilliant! I'm in love with this family already.

I'd noticed this place but hadn't really registered it. I get the feeling I'll be doing quite a lot of registering soon, if you know what I mean.

Looking forward to mewling like a baby :D

Matt C said...

Caffisimo was sold sometime in late 2008, that's when it got a bit shit

Anonymous said...

good~ keep sharing with us, please....I will waiting your up date everyday!! Have a nice day........................................

N. said...

The great thing about Oriental Secrets: The entire building it is located in was built around their restaurant. Every other building was demolished, except for Oriental Secrets, and the four level building was then wrapped around them. Not sure what the back story was there - but the family has got some smarts for sure - they weren't going to leave for nobody! They also have a HUGE DVD rental business (in the restaurant), renting out predominantly imported Kung Fu and action movies. They're stalwarts, in the best sense of the term.


paragus maximus said...

We accidentally discovered Oriental Secrets last year and had them cater to my wife's surprise 40th. Ever since we go there 2-3 times (wish could be more) a month. Love the guys and love the food....hmmm its not a secret anymore ;0)

Anonymous said...

It's been some time since I walked up Chelmsford (not since this new building went it), so I literally had no idea it was tucked away in there.

Hell, even using Google Maps to find it was hard enough.

I'm keen to give it a bash now.

Beaufort Street Bloggers said...

Hi Conor - have you managed to register Mr and Mrs Secrets yet?

Matt C - thanks for the info. Late 2008 is exactly when the eggs on fire got a bit shit - tip top white bread, WTF??

N - you're spot on. It was unbelievable how that place managed to stay open during about 12 months of serious building. And we can confirm that the rennovations were not extended to the restaurant itself.

paragus - do you actually dine in when you go there? If so, can you tell us what that's like as an experience?

Anonymous - you'll love it. Get yourself there.

Anonymous said...

Errmmm is it just me or this place has seemed to have closed and is now a Thai place?

Leighton said...

Rang up on Friday 15th. Was told that it was replaced with a thai place 2 days ago. :( Ordered from the thai place anyway, but it was expensive and bad ($90 for about 5 dishes, the containers were about half full, and the meat was overcooked and dry).

Anonymous said...

There is an Oriental Secrets in the Inglewood Civic Centre. Food was terrible. Will never go back.

jorge said...

mto bom vou verificar na minha próxima viagem.

Anonymous said...

Oriental Secrets
We have moved to
shop 3 / 889 Beaufort Street, inglewood WA 6052
9370 4830
Call Kim 0402 152 971
Thanks for all the suppor tin mt Lawley, we still do delivery around the same areas but now extended to inglewood and further.

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