Have you ever had one of those meals that sticks in your mind? You think about it months later and your mouth begins to water. The ghost of scents tickling your nostrils, of flavours on your tongue. It’s all very well if that special meal happened to be at your local eatery, but those tantalizing dishes sampled overseas can be difficult to replicate. Impossible in fact. As important as the meal itself is the place and the people. We had one of these places come into our lives just over a year ago. To say we came back to Ubud because of its chilled out vibes and beautiful people wouldn’t be a lie. Those reasons however, paled in comparison to our longing for one more meal at Secret Garden Cafe.
Away from the main town, past some newly built hostels and guesthouses, through a few rice paddies, and nestled off the street, lies the entrance to Secret Garden. As you enter through the wooden double doors, a stone path leads through the luscious green gardens. Open aired shelters with thatched roofs house the eating areas. Two shelters at the back of the property overlook a small stream shrouded in lush green vegetation and palm trees. Choose any place you’d like (as you’ll probably be the only one there), and a very friendly Japanese lady will be along shortly to greet you, with limited English – still a lot better than our Japanese – made up for with a big smile. The restaurant is run by the family, the buildings nestled away in the vegetation are their homes, the kitchen they cook their food in is a long way from being a professional set-up. Yet you would not think it once you have tasted the food they conjure up.
You sense the freshness of their ingredients in every bite. As mentioned on their menu, they strive to use only the freshest, organic, and locally sourced produce. You are sure to enjoy a guiltless meal, unless of course you order the tempe! The raw veggies are crisp, the noodles fresh, the omelette out of this world (seriously, I don’t know how they do it). The menu is quite extensive, don’t hesitate to ask for more time if you are struggling to make a decision. Order some tea, relax and enjoy the spectacular back-drop. Ponder on your choices; it is a hot day, do you fancy a cold Udon Noodle Salad (great choice, by the way), a sushi set made to order, or maybe one of the ‘raw food’ items such as a raw pizza? This is Ubud after all! When it comes down to it, whatever you order, it is bound to be delicious, and have you dying to dig in as soon as you lay eyes on your approaching plate. Don’t have time for chop-sticks? No worries, they supply you with knives and forks too.
If it is a quick bite you’re after, skip Secret Garden. You need time to do the setting justice. All orders are made fresh, so depending on the dish, they can take varying amounts of time to prepare. This, in our opinion, is a bonus. Waiting on our food, (trust me, the freshness compensates for the wait) gives us a great excuse to lounge around in our raised ‘hut’ overlooking the rice fields, drink some tea and enjoy the peacefulness of the place. They even provide a natural bug repellent and a mosquito coil for your comfort. Ubud can be a busy town, it is nice to have an oasis to escape to. Look no further, Secret Garden Cafe is that oasis of calm that you need.
Secret Garden, Jalan Tirta Tawar 66, Ubud, Bali.
Open Monday – Saturday, 12pm to 9pm
Prices range from 30k to 80k per person.