Secret Diner Levy is a new venture from Jimmy, a man who has been cooking Malaysian food at markets, The Kitchens in Spinningfields and in a small takeaway (now closed) under the name, Nasi Lemak. I’ve visited his stall a few times and the food has been consistently good.
With Secret Diner Levy, he takes up post inside Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme Thursday – Sunday evening, cooking up a selection of Asian-inspired dishes.*
Secret Diner Levy Interior
My friend and I arrived at 6 pm and there wasn’t anyone else around. Sam, the floor manager, greeted us warmly and showed us to our seats. He said that we can go down to the bar for alcoholic drinks as he can’t serve these. He then presented us with the menus and asked if we had any dietary requirements.
There is a varied range of food on the menus and Jimmy has made sure that vegan and gluten-free options are available. It was quite hard deciding which small plates to go for as they all sounded good. The mains were easier to decide on.
Beef Rendang rolls
My friend was pretty set on ordering the beef rendang rolls, and these were gorgeous. There was plenty of beef in the rolls and the batter was really crispy. The sauce was flavoursome and complimented the beef. Really nice.
Pickle and seitan bao
I got curious about what seitan is (it’s basically wheat gluten) and that compounded by the fact my friend has never tried baos before hand made me order these. How did seitan taste? Sort of like pork in texture, actually. It was really weird eating it knowing it wasn’t meat and yet had a meaty texture. The pickles were really good and the sauce used was spicier than the sauce on the beef rendang rolls. If you don’t like very spicy food, maybe give this a miss or ask the chef to tone down the spice if he can. Unfortunately, the baos were soggy on the bottom and I believe this to be because it was served in a bowl, where water can get trapped. I mentioned this and suggested that maybe they could be served on small bamboo steamers so that the water had somewhere to go.
We ordered the laksa with rice noodles and chose the rempah chicken to go with it. These were boneless and served with tofu and pakchoi. The chicken was very tender and moist despite being battered. The laksa was not very spicy, although I’m sure it could be made spicier if you asked. The tofu was a bit cold but not enough to deter from the dish.
The beef bulgogi was the special when we visited. The beef was marinated well and sliced thinly. This was served on top of rice with greens, carrots and kimchi. I’d recommend this to people who can’t eat spicy food!
Overall rating and comments
8.5/10 -0.5 for the slightly awkward location. To get to Secret Diner Levy, you go to Fred’s Ale House, walk past the bar and then take the stairs on the right. (Don’t accidentally go into the Union Inn next door!) -0.5 for slightly cold tofu. -0.5 for soggy baos. Sam, the floor manager, was really attentive but I can’t help think that he was maybe too attentive. It was nice but I hope he spends less time on individual customers once business picks up more. The portion sizes for everything is really generous, though. I was already getting full after consuming our small plates! We ended up taking the extras home! They also run supper clubs which are ticketed.
Will come again?
I think so! The place isn’t fussy and I feel you get a lot of food for what you pay for.
Jim also trades under Nasi Lemak
*The food was free but as always, this did not impact my opinion.
Amy Lyons21st February 2017 at 3:49 pm
oooh I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds really interesting!! I might give it a try xx
Elsa Eats24th February 2017 at 10:59 am
You should definitely. I’m not sure how long it’ll be around in Levy, so try it whilst you can!
Toast Rack21st February 2017 at 4:12 pm
All of that food looks awesome! The beef rendang rolls in particular are making me hungry. I’ll have to get myself over there one of these days since I live so close. 🙂
Elsa Eats24th February 2017 at 11:00 am
Do you also visit Levy market? I like to when I have the time, I often catch them at the University on Tuesdays when they there.