Durban’s bunny chow high on foodie hit list

Having been named the world’s best food city by some prestigious publications, Cape Town stands out as a must-visit destination for foodies. 

However the city of Durban, treasured for its warm seas, is every bit as keen to show off its food offerings.

“For foreign visitors to Durban, there is one food item that must be tried – because this is the only place in the world where you’ll find it,” says Freddy Pather, concierge at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward, an elegant hotel from a bygone era that overlooks the Indian Ocean.

“The bunny chow – half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a spicy portion of curry – is integrally linked to the history of the area,” he explains. “This region of SA is characterised by its Indian population which settled here in the late 19th century, bringing typical Indian cuisine such as curries to the country.”

Pather’s colleague, Johnny Sababathey, knows the best places for this delicacy. “My recommendation for a particularly tasty bunny chow is Goundens Restaurant in Umbilo Road,” Sababathey says.

The two concierges know where to get the best food, having been advising hotel guests for many decades, and their view about the bunny chow is endorsed by numerous others, with Tripadvisor giving the restaurant a 4.5 rating.

For other Asian cuisine, Mali’s Indian Restaurant in the suburb of Morningside is an excellent choice.

“While the Indian tastes are very special, travellers not used to extremely spicy food should be cautious,” Pather warns. “I recommend you don’t ask for the hottest spice – you may become flammable!”

While in the Durban area, tourists can also savour the flavours of the island of Mauritius without having to travel there. Ile Maurice is a much-loved restaurant in Umhlanga Rocks, just north of Durban.

“Since it’s rare to find places outside of Mauritius where you can enjoy the diverse flavours of the food from this island paradise, this is a wonderful opportunity for both foreigners and South Africans to get a taste of this unique cuisine,” Pather says.

“Just as on the island itself, the restaurant focuses on seafood, with the various tastes of Mauritian Créole cooking. French dishes are also popular, reflecting the history of this Indian Ocean Island, which was settled by the French, Dutch, Portuguese and British, as well as by Indians.”

And, for those looking for a more conventional meal, here are some more recommendations from the two long-serving concierges:

  • For Italian meals, try Roma Revolving at the Victoria Embankment or Old Town Italy in Umhlanga;
  • Mouth-watering steaks are best from the Butcher Boys in Florida Road and from Havana Grill;
  • Try Daruma for sushi.