Welcome to the secret garden

Whoever said delicious can't be healthy? Garden Recipe charms with its wholesome pleasures, minus the calories and guilt.
By Wong Ee Laine

Finding a health-food restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is not unlike finding a needle in a haystack. Despite the growing popularity of all things organic and wholesome, city dwellers in Klang Valley are still limited to a handful of ‘Healthy eateries’. Therefore, it is always refreshing to learn of a new place where one can indulge in a good meal without the guilt.

In the up-and-coming area of Solaris Mont Kiara lies a little gem called Garden Recipe (formally known as Healthy Recipe Cafe). Having open only four months ago, Garden Recipe is the third restaurant open by Husband and wife team Lai and Tracy Ngo. The first two restaurants, Simple Life and Eastern Creative Recipe Café, also adopt a healthy concept and are situated in Malacca.

After having suffered a bout of ill health about 10 years ago, Tracy was inspired to lead a healthier lifestyle and focused on learning everything she could about the health and organic-food movement. Egged on by her friends and family members, Tracy decided to share her recipes with others through her own restaurant. Husband Lai, who is adamant on changing people’s perception of healthy foods, prides Garden Recipe on its healthy and, most importantly, delicious and affordable servings. Garden Recipe practices the ‘three lows and a high’- low in sodium, sugar and oil, high in fibre (and nutrition) – in all its recipes. Although not fully an organic restaurant, Garden Recipe demonstration by serving salmon fish and chicken and using sea salt in their cooking.

To start the meal, Lai recommended the homemade mushroom soup. It must be stated that there’s not a bigger waste of time than to have canned soup described as ‘homemade’ served to you at restaurant. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was indeed made from scratch. It contained chopped pieces of mushrooms and it was creamy and delicious. To cleanse our plate, we had the signature Healthy Juice comprising apple, cucumber, celery, capsicum and bittergourd and juice made with beetroot, which comes highly recommended.

Garden Recipe’s most popular dishes are the traditional Hakka specially Lei Cha with Multi Grain Rice, Grilled Salmon Fish with Carbornara Spaghetti, Healthy Salad and Fruite and Signature Steam Chicken Roll. If you’ve had Lui Cha and don’t think it can taste any healthier and greener then it already is, think again. Here the Lui Cha is made of multi-grain rice and boiled (not friend) vegetables and beans. As Lui Cha is an acquired taste, the herbs soups served here is lighter and not as pungent as how a traditional one would taste like. If you crave rice but don’t wish to pack on the pounds, this would be the ideal dish to try. Meat eaters will appreciate the chicken, which is rolled steam and topped with a fruit jam sauce, accompanied by five grain rice, steamed bakchoy and a friend egg. It was appetising due in the part to the tangy sauce and the chicken that was succulent and juicy.

The Grilled Salmon Fish with Carbonara Spaghetti was simple yet delicious. Not a fan of creamy pasta sauces, I enjoyed the carbonara spaghetti which was al dente and not too heavy. The fish, grilled and topped with a secret recipe sauce, was fresh and complimented the pasta.

Garden Recipe isn’t short on snacks as well. If you time your entrance well, you may just be able to catch a fresh batch of steamed organic bread made with goji berries and raisins (RM 2.90 each), which are only available in a limited amount everyday. Other snack treats worth sampling include about the Fried tofu with miso or Thai chilli sauce, Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and salads