bonta vita

bonta vita logoI am not entirely sure how it started. Perhaps it was at over lunch, at Lee's Malaysian, where he-of-the-matching-waistcoat mentioned that there was a place, not far from here, that served Malaysian-Italian food. And when we heard this, we looked at M. M of Big Bite fame. M who will not waste food. (Will. Not.) M, who records himself as "Other" on the census. M, who is Malaysian/Italian. We were dubious. The suggestions came flying "Beef Rendang Spaghettini!" cried one "Kway Teow Carbonara!" cried the other. But we were intrigued. And we had to go. (Had to.)

One week passed, and then another. M had itchy feet and a desk full of work, and Zo & I couldn't bring ourselves to go to what we had come to know as "M's restaurant" without him. And then it was M's birthday. And we weren't taking no for an answer.

the roti chef
the promising blackboard

As we wander up to the glass fronted building, next to that ever colour-changing fountain, we spot a blackboard in the corner. It says, among other things, three words that send M into a flurry. "Maggi Mee Goreng!" he sings as we are shown to our table. "Maggi Mee Goreng!" he sings as we peruse the menu. "Maggi Mee Goreng! Maggi Mee Goreng!" We are overheard. "I'm sorry, but the new menu only starts on Thursday" we are told. "Dammit!" says M. We peruse the menu again.

the roti chef
outside bonta vita

There are four of us now. Two hungry boys who will eat anything, one hungry boy who will only eat Halal, and me. "D'you think it's Halal?" asks Zo, hopeful, but willing to eat vegetarian if he must. "Nah", say we. "There's bacon on the menu". "I'm gonna ask anyway" says he.

We are oh-so-wrong.

Marcello, co-owner and chef, comes over to have a chat. He explains that everything on the menu is halal - except for a couple of the Rizzas. Eyes light up. Options have been opened. We are thrilled. Then he explains that all of the meat used is halal, properly blessed and all. And that an entirely different set of utensils, pots and pans are used for non-halal food to avoid cross contamination.

Later, we are quietly pondering why this would be so. The extra effort. The extra expense. "I'm allergic to pork" he explains. "Pork, goat and eel. It was so hard for me to eat out, so I understand how difficult it must be for Jewish and Muslim people." Ahhhh...

the roti chef
the roti chef

In the meantime we have ordered enough to feed a troupe. Three Rizzas. A curry. "Something else?" we wonder when Marcello pops out of the kitchen. "We're testing the new menu today" he says, and I have one more dish that you can order if you want. We look up, expectantly. Maggi Mee Goreng perhaps? "Won ton noodles" says he. Oh. "Dry or wet?" ask we. A confused look. "I'll check" and then "my wife says they are dry. And with chicken wontons. So they're halal." "Done". (There was, unfortunately, no Maggi Mee Goreng as Marcello's wife had eaten it all the night before.)


lamb curry
kari kambing & steamed rice $13.95

Our food arrives and the lamb curry is delicious, a must-repeat order. The meat is tender and unctuous, falling apart with the prod of a fork. The curry is rich with tamarind and spice. We start politely. A little bit of rice, a spoonful of curry. A couple of pieces of meat. And then its hits us "Heyyyyyy...." says one, pointing and nodding "Ohhhhhh....." says another, with a grin. Me? I'm chewing away happily and hoping that no-one will notice that the plate has inched its way closer to me.


won ton mee
Wonton Mee $15.95

The won ton mee arrives next. M & I look at each other knowingly. It is hard to get a good won ton mee in the city, nay, anywhere in Sydney really, and we are fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Zo is just excited about the fact that it's halal. "I've never had wontons before" he exclaims eagerly. "Never?" we respond, before realising that they're normally made of pork. While this exchange takes place, I notice that the sauce has been mixed in with the noodles (good) and that the chilli is hot (good) and that the wontons are cooked just right (very good - especially as most places under or over do them). The verdict? It's positive. Wonton Mee is my favourite back in Malaysia, and this is as good as I've had in Sydney.


rizza me
Rizza with BV sauce

And then the Rizzas arrive. I feel I have to capitalise the word Rizza. It feels wrong not to. For Rizzas are a roti-pizza connundrum. They are the only cross-cultural item on the Bonta Vita menu, the rest being either very Malaysian or very Italian. "The other fusion combinations we tried, they just didn't taste so good" explains Marcello. No beef rendang spaghettini then. Good-oh.

Rizza 5
Rizza 5: Marinated mince beef, olives,
cherry tomatoes, mushroom & mozzerella $13.95

In the words of my friend Mak, who came along to Bonta Vita with me the following Saturday, "Ohhhh.... it's like the best part of roti and the best part of pizza all in one go!" I didn't hear much from him for the rest of the evening.


Rizza 3
Rizza 3: Chicken chorizo sausage, mushroom,
chilli flakes, grilled onions & mozzerella $13.95

The Rizzas we ordered were delicious. Personal favourites? I actually liked the vegetarian one (below) the best. The capsicum really stood up in it and made me happy. I also tried one with chicken mince in it on a separate occasion, and that one comes a close second.

They are truly genius. Flaky roti pastry. Melted mozzerella. And the BV sauce, a thick, sweet-ish, mild curry which goes so well with everything. The waitstaff were attentive enough to notice that we were sharing, and, after the first one came out saw that I was hacking at it with my fork and knife. It was duly taken back to the kitchen, cut up and returned. The other two Rizzas then arrived pre cut for ease of sharing. I was duly appreciative.

Rizza 7
Rizza 7: Chargrilled eggplant, green peas, grilled onions,
roasted capsicum & mozzerella $13.95 (and roti in the background $6.95)

So we're chowing down. I've managed to hijack the rest of the wonton mee. The Kiwi is making short work of the curry and the other two are digging into the Rizzas when another plate arrives. "Have some Roti" says Marcello. "On the house." Why, thankyou! And muchly so! But where do we put it? Our table is already spilling over with plates of food.

So a table is pulled over, and we continue. And when a second plate of roti arrives, it is tipped ceremoniously on top of the first, and that lamb curry that The Kiwi had been working through? Well, I showed him.

otak otak
Otak-Otak $15.95

Not long after, another plate is brought around. "Otak Otak" we are told. "It's for the new menu. Please, let me know what you think." We are not the types to say no. Especially when we are offered a fish and coconut filled banana leaf, with a surprising basil infused bottom. Toothpicks are carefully removed. The inner mass is ceremoniously cut into four pieces and doled out. Tender chunks of white fish and creamy coconut milk (infused with a hint of the banana leaf and basil) roll around in my mouth. I am eyeing The Kiwi's portion, but my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

A truce is called. My eyes are defeated and my stomach distended. I am utterly stuffed. The Kiwi is called back to work, and the other two chomp away contentedly while I sit and contemplate when and with whom I should make my return visit.

happy birthday surprise
HBD: surprise birthday brownies

We think we are done (and by this stage, M is slumped in his seat like a boy who's eaten that bit too much and is halfway to settling down for a nap). But the surprises don't stop. I smell, wait, what? Sparklers? And a two-person birthday serenade is had, complete with four triangles of rich chocolately brownie and a duo of sparkers atop. As the Kiwi has had to depart, there is an extra piece of brownie on the plate. "I'm not having it" I say, whilst digging into my piece "I'm on a quest to eat less these days. Also, I'm far too full". The boys laugh at me. And with good reason. Because as they hit the half way point, I'm all done with my triangle. And by the time they're done with theirs, I've forked my way through most of the spare one. Hm.

So full tummies abound as we drag ourselves back to work. I promise to return, and do so a week later with Miss Shiny, Mak, SuperDanny & PRC. More of the same is had, plus some dessert and a bonus plate of gelati (My favourites? The durian & the wattleseed gelati. Such a win). But that's another story, for another day.

bonta vita exterior


Bonta Vita
Shop 10-02 Regent Place
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
ph: 02 9267 2212


(note: prices and menu items have been taken from the previous menu - these may have changed since my last visit)

12 bites more:

Anonymous said...

rizza - fancy!!
they look oily ??
like a really heavy meal for lunch

but

malaya-italian
i want to try~

Betty

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

I so have to try this place-I mean a rizza? Who could refuse just out of curiosity!

Y said...

Phew. I thought there really was going to be beef rendang spaghettini! The goat curry looks fantastic, as does the won ton mee!

FFichiban said...

I love the Rizza soo gooooddd and their BV sauce matches them sooo well mmmmm!!! and did you see the ex-Mamk Roti Chef?

Next time you must get the Rice Dice XP and I must go back for some new dishes and more Rizza action hee hee

Betty said...

omg. rizza! looks awesome.
i've never heard of a malaysian/italian fusion restaurant. how intriguing.. must "research" this place. soon!!

Stephcookie said...

Wonton mee love! Will definitely have to check this place out, if only for the dry wonton mee :)

lili - pikelet & pie said...

Oh, so a Rizza is like Murtabak with an Italian filling? Makes sense, sort of.
Wonton mee is my very very favourite. I might just have to break my distaste for fusion and visit just for that dish - though do they do the wontons fried, too?
Love your writing :)

shez said...

Betty: i guess it's quite heavy for lunch, but i tend to do heavy lunches & light dinners so it suits me. they aren't very oily at all - it's just the cheese that makes it look that way :)

Lorraine: oh do! that's what i thought initially, but have grown quite fond of everything else too.

Y: i know right? hoorah for not-odd-fusion!

FFichiban: ah no i didn't. he wasn't on that afternoon (or the Saturday i went by). and i'm far too control freak-y to let dice choose my meal for me :)

Betty: hehe. let me know how your "research" goes!

Stephcookie: it's not like in Klang, but considering the other options, i'm more than happy with it.

lili: yes! exactly! haven't seen fried wontons, but then again, i didn't ask for them. i'm a steamed / boiled fan. (and thankyou!)

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

That's awesome that you got to taste the new menu! I'm so impressed that the chef makes halal food - it's so considerate.

billy@ATFT said...

Looks really good, but I do have to squirm at the price for the wonton noodle. I can see another round of foodie gathering at this joint already!

smileona said...

OMG i walked past here a couple of weeks ago while looking for a feed and i saw how it says "malaysian and Italian cuisine" I thought to myself weirddd combo definitely not gonna try it.

Glad u tried it cos it looks actually pretty good! Love ur entries SHEZ!

shez said...

Arwen: we were suitably happy with it too :) return trips are being planned as we speak!

billy: yah, it's not cheap but it's not horrendous either. are you offering to organise? ;)

smileona: give it a go, you'll be pleasantly surprise i think!

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