Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Bonda Cafe, 190 Sussex Gardens, Paddington, London, W2 1PU
Wasn’t feeling too well over the weekend, so when a friend suggested we go to Bonda’s Cafe, we said uh huh. Comfort food, from the lower ground floor of a Malaysian cafe. What more could you ask for?
Location-wise, pretty good. Just off Bayswater, and very easy to get to, although this restaurant is probably not as easy to spot as one might have liked. It’s underground, with a little sign outside it. Kinda like, if you’re not looking for it, you probably won’t find it.
The interior of the restaurant, though it looks nicer in reality. The bit which looked quite good had alot of people sitting there so I didn’t snap a picture of it. Mostly minimal-style tables and chairs, with a little container holding some utensils, and a hot counter where some dishes for the ‘mixed rice’ are kept.
Container with utensils.
The menu, which is short and sweet, and has nice pictures. Now, I must make special mention of the fact that the food served here actually looks like the pictures on the wall! Not many places do (one golden arch type place springs to the front).
Dessert menu typically the type you’d find in a Malaysian restaurant, where it’s put on the table, and printed on both sides. The selection is lovely though, lots of nice things to choose from, though we were too full with main courses to even consider ordering dessert.
Actually, that’s not true. I did consider ordering the glutinous rice thingee, but didn’t. Ordered more roti bakar instead (toast).
Roti bakar £2.50 (toasted bread – not just ANY bread – but really soft, fluffy, airy, lovely, bread with kaya, which is a coconuty jam, sounds awful but it’s not)
This was really soft, fluffy, airy, lovely, bread with kaya. Loved it. So much so that we ordered this the moment we sat down, while waiting for our friends to arrive, and then again at the end of the meal. When you really like something that much, there is nothing to say you can’t have it once before the meal, and once after. In fact, have it as the meal if you like.
Nasi campur dish … vague but I dunno what this is
At Bonda Cafe, you get a ‘nasi campur’ dish, which translates to ‘mixed dish rice’. Basically, you go to the hot dish counter and the guy there takes out a plate, and asks if you want rice. You then pick a number of dishes, and depending on how many meat and vegetable dishes you select, the price ranges from something like £3.50 to £4.50 (ie. either 2 meat + 1 vegetable, or 3 meat + 1 vegetable).
This looks like some sort of a dried fried fish thing, don’t you agree?
Won’t explain the same thing again, but here’s another dish. Looks like fish again. Sweet and sour maybe, your guess is as good as mine. Didn’t try this, so don’t know.
More fish? Chicken?
Potatoes of some sort. Oh, actually, this looks like tempeh, which is a fermented bean-based dish, which doesn’t taste of much so it’s usually eaten with something else.
The piece of fried chicken then ended up on my plate. I know, it looks really hard, tough and dry, but it was actually very moist. Didn’t want this piece, but the guy put it on my plate so I didn’t want to ask him to change it.
Some squid in curry sauce on the right, and that chicken on the left. Presentation could have been improved, but it tasted nice, which is all that matters when it comes to food really. The vegetables kinda were put on the plate without me having to ask for it, so that was probably one of those ‘default’ vegetables you get with mixed rice of this sort.
Some other unknown meat, tasted nice. This post is going well, isn’t it.
Oh finally, something I know. This is a piece of chicken, with some cabbage on the right of it. The chicken is cooked in curry, thus it is curry chicken. We asked for the curry gravy to be poured on top of the rice, and you can do that even without getting the chicken (so it’s free), but we got the chicken also.
Lamb curry, which tasted alot nicer than it looks. The pieces were tender, and quite lamby, with a more coconuty version of the curry than the one in which the chicken was cooked.
Kuih £0.60 each
Kuih means cakes, or something along those lines. Pieces of sweet, cake-like things made from rice flour (usually anyway), flavoured with pandan leaves and then either steamed or baked. The consistency of these kuih are slightly chewy, but also quite dense to the bite, so it’s one of those things where you either like it or not.
The tapioca version of the kuih.
The one with the green and white bits is known as the ‘seri muka’, and the bottom layer is made with glutinous rice, while the top layer is made with some rice flour mixture and flavoured with pandan leaves. Nice, chewy and soft, one of the nicer kuihs.
So, overall, we had a really enjoyable meal at Bonda Cafe. It was leisurely, the waiting staff didn’t hurry us through our meal unlike alot of other restaurants, and even though we spent quite a while waiting for our friends, they were very nice to us, and attentive in terms of service. The food was good, the waiting staff friendly, and overall the atmosphere in there made us feel comfortable enough to sit in there for hours without feeling like we HAD to order lots of food (though we did, but that was mainly out of hunger).
Would I recommend this place? Indeed!
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