40% off Bonda Kitchen (Malay Chinese) – Paddington, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
Isn’t there something just as alluringly charming as there is curiously inviting about a restaurant situated in a basement hideaway?
Located in the upmarket residential area of London Paddington’s Sussex Gardens, this intimate dining room can accommodate upto 38 guests.
The main feature, of what is otherwise a simple and brightly lit interior, is an attractive, hand-painted wall mural that stretches from one side of the room to the other.
With a traditional wooden Malay house built on stilts taking centre stage, the painting depicts a community of people enjoying a number of popular Malay games that include: Gasing, which involves the use of a spinning top; and Congkak, a strategy board game that makes use of small pebbles.
While Bonda Kitchen has only been open for just over a month, there is something of back story to this husband- and wife-run business.
Husband Salahudin (better known as Din) hasn’t just been the former president of the Malaysian Restaurant Association, but was also the owner of a previous food place called Bonda Café, which served home-cooked Malay cuisine at this very spot for well over a decade.
As for Bonda Kitchen’s menu, then although the focus appears to be on their dim sum and gua bao sets, the restaurant has introduced some new items, which we’ll begin with showcasing exclusively for you in this review.
With an attractive, thin and shiny skin – daintily pinched and crinkled at the top, and containing a filling of shredded meat – there was no mistaking the distinct umami-flavour of the succulent duck in this Siu Mai. A superb start.
These dumpling parcels were wrapped in an incredibly delicate pink film, which contained a moist mixture of prawn and crab meat, and whose aroma flooded our senses with the very first bite. Deliciously good.
This Lotus Parcel, on the other hand, was easily the most challenging item had during said review.
In fact, so exotic were its flavours, that this dish certainly split the crowd, with two Lions welcoming the challenge, but one finding the bold and heady flavours to be a step too far.
This was essentially defined by a variety of herbaceous tastes and aromas, which some might find verging on the pungent side. Having said that though, if you like discovering new flavour profiles, then this is an absolute must.RECOMMENDED
This wasn’t just packed full of juicy shredded beef, but was beautifully balanced too, courtesy of all those sesame seeds, whose mild nutty aftertaste helped offset the fatty richness of the meat.
These plump gyozas were fried to a crispy finish, and were filled with chopped beef, that was tender and satisfyingly strong in its soothing umami flavour.
Paired with boiled pak choi and a mound of rice, it was also presented with a trio of sauces that comprised ginger, hoisin, and mellow chilli.
Despite the evident reheated nature of the rice, which wasn’t very good, the contrasting flavours delivered by the sauces offered alternating tastes with each given mouthful.
Otherwise, truth be told, this dish erred on the simple side, with the £11.50 perhaps better invested in more of the dim sums.
These translucent things of beauty could quite easily have been mistaken for living creatures plucked out of the sea, they looked that good.
There wasn’t much gold at the end of these Rainbow vegetable dumplings though, turning out instead rather timid in flavour.RECOMMENDED
This Mantao Kaya dessert only confirmed our growing appreciation that the Chinese-Malay chefs heading the kitchen here had some skill in the dumpling-making department.
What was even better though, was that candy-sweet caramel sauce, nay, paste, which was thick enough to require only a small dollop for each bite.
A seemingly simple dish; but one which required the two items to be executed flawlessly, which they were.
STEAMED DIM SUMRECOMMENDED
The addition of a goji berry to this visually striking Scallop Dumpling made all the difference really between it being very good and exceptionally good.
While providing that obvious splash of blood orange to these black and white parcels, not only was a chewy textural element added, but also a sweet edge to some beautifully cooked scallops, which themselves managed to deliver a hint of the sea.
The vivid green hues made these parcels appear more like gleaming jewels than glistening dumplings. In terms of flavours, then not only did the familiar taste of the crustacean come through well enough, but the chives were also subtly present in the background.
If we had to choose between the two, however, we’d go with the aforementioned Prawn & Crab Dumplings, simply on account of that extra element and flavour.RECOMMENDED
Oh yes! Arguably one of the best, and perhaps the most memorable, of all the dumplings enjoyed during this review.
The secret here was the way in which the subtle floral notes of the saffron were balanced against the taste of the succulent cod, thereby allowing the latter its dominant place. Clever and very tasty.RECOMMENDED
Being far more plump and tightly packed than any of their counterparts, these Siu Mai dumplings, generously covered in all those glistening sesame seeds, weren’t just more chewier in texture, but made for scrumptious mouthfuls too.
Those of us who took these down in one, sat there savouring the taste of the sea for what seemed like an eternity of blissful mastication.
DEEP FRIED DIM SUM
Similar to their beef cousins above, these crispy fried gyozas contained some deliciously marinated shredded chicken, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Of the two, however, we’d go with the beef, only because that’s the newer item on the menu that warrants a try.
GUA BAO SET
Given that this was a Roasted Duck Bao, be prepared for the bird to be more drier and crunchier in texture than you might otherwise expect.
Of course, that’s not to say that that’s acceptable, because, although these pulled and shredded segments were quite flavourous, they were nonetheless dry. As such, you’ll definitely need plenty of that viscous sauce, which lends a tangy-cum-smoky flavour, to try and get past this shortcoming.
Having said that though, is this worth £29? Well, in light of how good the above dumplings were, the answer would seem obvious enough.
In this instance, while there was no complaints regarding both the fluffy bao buns and the mellow spiced beef rendang, the let down here was the quality of the beef.
Although we do appreciate beef being presented with a more chewier texture where necessary, on this occasion, it had surpassed that threshold of acceptability, turning out tough and overcooked, to the extent that it entirely undermined the actual softness of the bao buns. And at £24, we would expect the star of the show to be far better.
RICE & NOODLES
This Nasi Lemak turned out to be a tasty plate of food. Yet, it could have been much better if not for the poorly reheated rice.
Hence, although the relatively moist chicken boasted an uber-crispy skin, the crunchy anchovies provided that hit of salty fishiness, and the sambal sauce the addition of chilli, the rice again turned out dry and disappointingly lifeless.
Not even thoroughly mixing everything together – which you’re, incidentally, meant to do with Malaysia’s national dish – was enough to fully mask said flaw.
A large plate of Singapore Prawn Rice Vermicelli, with plenty of soft and succulent prawns, topped with strands of omelette; but which required the light chilli sauce to help bring together what was otherwise a delicately spiced dish.
This assortment of Mochi balls failed to impress, with the outer layer of gelatinous coating being far tougher than the soft, jelly-like texture we were expecting.
In fact, even with the use of two spoons, we genuinely struggled to prize apart these dumplings. Otherwise, the tastes of each were decent enough without being anything to write home about.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- UBER EATS
- JUST EAT
In short, it's all about those exceptionally good dumplings (especially the new menu additions), which come in portions of four, and are meant for tapas-style sharing, with some hot tea to boot.
More importantly, we've teamed up with Bonda Kitchen to offer a massive 40% off their entire menu for this week only, valid from Monday to Thursday, 9-12 August 2021. If you haven't had Malay cuisine before, this would be the perfect opportunity.
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