Table for more than two at the Secret Supper Club Manila 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The Secret Supper Club is not a destination restaurant, but it well may be. Set on a long table in the courtyard of a quintessential Filipino casa somewhere in Manila, the concept of dinner at the patio is a movement to slow down and stay in the present. And with such a picturesque view, it’s not difficult to do.   

The Secret Supper Club serves a four-course plant-based dinner and vegan wine with the concept of bringing people together in a space where enjoyment and connection thrives. You can come by yourself or with company, but there is only one table for everyone to commune.

The dishes have no secret to them. They’re fresh as they are straightforward; meals made with honest-to-goodness whole food ingredients flavored and paired the right way, cooked and prepared by the creative cook, Edsel Ochoa, who shared that to his surprise, most of their guests are not already vegan by practice and still come back for the food and the unique experience.  


I sat among couples and single ladies around the 15-seater long table on Valentines Day. Some were celebrating milestones in their relationship, and those who came alone wanted to have the gathering on a special evening. That, in the cobblestoned open-air garden canopied by vines of bougainvillea and string lights is quite the setting for romantic celebrations — or for self-love.

Soon, the starter spinach tortelloni got our appetites going.

What underwhelmed the crowd is this reviewer’s particular favorite: Spanish-style tortilla with arugula and roasted red pepper sauce because of its likeness to actual eggs. Vegan emulsions of eggs have the tendency to be more pancake-like than omelette, but this is one exception. Oftentimes, the downside of vegan spots is reinterpreting meat dishes with vegetal substitutes, but this is where Edsel’s craft stands out. He lets the ingredients become the central feature of each dish while enhancing the mouthfeel with helpings of cilantro, bell peppers, and vegan butter.

For the mains, a bouncy maple-soused tofu block with a serving of lentils and broccoli was served. Tofu, which is a staple in most vegan diets, played a nice silky bite that complemented the firm lentil grains and the broccoli was without bitterness, oozing a flavorful juice when this reviewer’s teeth sank into it.

The Secret Supper Club busts the notion that mindful eating is restrictive. It does not mean scrimping on what’s good and is best exemplified by Edsel indulgent panna cotta: a creamy custard accompanied by dragon fruit, strawberries, and nuts, dusted with grated tablea.

Each dish can stand as light meals by their own, but works together served in pacing. In between courses, there are conversations of work and family life, celebrity talk, and personal anecdotes from those who’ve known the cook for a long time.

For anyone who wants to enjoy vegan dishes not just for the food’s sake but a wholesome social dining experience, The Secret Supper Club provides that and more. Every so often, they also host open house dinners for a more casual set-up, the latest one being Artful Bites, which will serve vegan grazing boards alongside an urban sketch journaling workshop on March 09.

A rare respite from the constant push to fill your schedule everyday, The Secret Supper Club is nothing short of a bigger call for conscious choices and slow living, albeit for a single night or during celebrations. The offerings, the limited seating which asks of your participative attention, the postcard-worthy secret locations — the entirety of the experience has a charm that would never wear off. 

As I stepped to the streets outside the patio, I was certain of three things: how scant it is moments like these come by; the privilege it is to exchange social graces with people whose culture, lifestyle, and pursuits differ from yours; and that The Secret Supper Club should be an experience everybody encounters once in a while (and should not remain a secret, despite its name).

Partner with adobo Magazine

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