Secret Lasagna Is The Late-Night Delivery Of Your Dreams
Take a look at the menu at Secret Lasagna—the newly minted late-night kitchen in Chinatown—and you may have trouble discerning a rhyme or reason. There are lasagnas, as promised in the shop's name. There's also a poutine made of tater tots, as well as tacos that come with tempura enoki mushrooms and a vegan chipotle lime aioli.
As it turns out, there's really no slant to be found; the menu is simply a direct extension of chef Royce Burke's mind (or, more accurately, his late-night appetite).
"It's really just the type of late-night comfort food that I crave for," he told LAist. He cites the hunger pangs that come after a game at Dodger Stadium (in the case you've spent all your funds on micheladas instead of garlic fries). He also references...Marie Callender's?
"I think back to my time growing up in NorCal, and going to Marie Callender's with my family," said Burke. "I was driving through the SGV with friends to get dumplings, and I saw a Marie Callender's and was like 'You guys have one of these here?'"
We both agreed that the Marie Callender's in Monterey Park is great; there's something about those pies and hubcap-sized plates that make your childhood extra special.
Likewise, Secret Lasagna is all about fan-service, with enough variation to keep things fresh. The titular secret lasagna comes drenched in a red sauce that has the perfect level of tang; the sauce is such a favorite that Burke says he intends to bottle it for sale in the near future. The dish really hits it stride, however, when you fork up a helping of the braised beef, which is achingly tender. And while the lasagna’s meatless counterpart—the mysterious “top secret” lasagna—eschews the protein, it’s just as hearty, as its layered with a medley of roasted zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, and an in-house vegan ricotta that’s made of cashews. And if you angling for more of that cheesy payoff, a chicken casserole (made with a bed of tea smoked chicken, lemon curry mayo, and gouda spread over ginger and garlic rice) is just as rich and indulgent.
The more meat-centric items are just as lively in flavor, as they’re undercut with a zesty tint. The dirty dog, for example, comes packed with a bacon-wrapped dog that’s paired with naem sausage and Kewpie mayo—the richness is offset by a liberal helping of ginger and mustard. And one of our favorites, the “Annette Burger,” marries a juicy lamb-and-beef patty with the sharp and fragrant hues of the balsamic chimichurri. The burger comes with a spike of heat that stays with you.
And what’s a midnight snack without something sweet? Burke's “Summer Berry Crisp” is great in how unassuming it it. Comprised of a mix of berries that’s topped with a buttery crisp; the dessert is coyly fragrant, revealing itself in shades, rather than blasting you with a rush of chemical sweetness.
With the menu’s Frankenstein-ed lineup, and with delivery running until 3 a.m., Secret Lasagna feels like something illicit. And indeed there’s something clandestine to the whole operation, as the kitchen’s location has been a bit of a mystery to some (I guess it’s all spelled out in the name, after all).
Just to get you in-the-know, Secret Lasagna is opening a location in the Mandarin Plaza at 970 North Broadway. There’ll be some seating options, though it looks like the bulk of customers will come via pickup and delivery. This shop won’t materialize for a couple weeks, however. At the moment they’ve set up operations in the second level of the Far East Plaza that’s a few blocks down on North Broadway (the same plaza where Howlin’ Rays is).
Secret Lasagna will be at 970 N. Broadway, Chinatown, (323) 505-8256. Hours run from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays. You can order pickup or delivery here or through Caviar or UberEats.