Filling bread with hot food, so you ‘eat the plate’ after you complete the main course is nothing new, but Bunny Chow gives this whole way of eating an interesting South African spin. It dates back to hard times in Durban when poor people could not afford cutlery and crockery. Today’s concept and styling are impressive – but does the chow make you want to come back with your bunny buddies? Africa Fashion investigates.
Editor’s Note: When a publication reviews a restaurant, there’s always an element of ‘Did your experience change/improve because they know you were an editor?’. To get around this problem, Africa Fashion will be ‘double tapping’ restaurants randomly. The editorial team will go in for a regular review, but shortly afterwards we will send in a second team ‘under cover’. We will compare notes and report back ‘the truth’ to you dear reader.
We are happy to report that with Bunny Chow, both teams enjoyed exactly the same experience – from the warm welcome at the start, through the food and service and onto the farewell.
Bunny Chow is on the corner of Wardour Street and Meard Street in Central London. We first heard the term ‘Bunny Chow’ in Soweto around ten years ago – and it’s still big business there. Essentially, it is a hollowed out bread roll with a hot, tasty filling. In South Africa, it would typically be served with a tomato relish called ‘Train Smash’, but that wasn’t an option here.
The location is easy to find and the decor is warm and cozy. While the food is South African in nature, the classic R-n-B sound track of Mary J. Blige, Montel Jordan and R-Kelly was distinctly Western. There isn’t much room, but we loved the intimate feel – perfect for lunch with your mates/colleagues or a quick snack with a loved one in the evening.
The staff are well drilled and friendly, taking us through the ordering options with a smile. Fresh fruit drinks are only £2.50 (add £2 for a shot of something stronger) and a typical main course like a Durban Bunny (wholemeal hollow bun with slow cooked mutton curry and covered with crunchy nachos) are £5. With a Bread & Butter pudding at £2.50 you can see how cheap a complete ‘sit-down’ meal in the heart of the city can be.
Drinks-wise, we opted for a North Beach (coconut cream, coconut water, banana, lime, lemon and a rum shot) as well as a Green Mamba (cucumber, mint, lime, elder flower and juniper berries). If you like your drinks with a sweet tasty mixolgy, North Beach is for you. For me, it surpassed the crisp freshness of the Green Mamba.
The food was hot, fresh, tasty and served with a mini salad/pickle mix that includes coriander – which added a nice ‘bite’ across the flavoursome curry. The crumbled nacho topping provided a crunch to complete the taste bud sensation.
It is served in military style Billy-Can which adds to the charm.
It was hygienic, affordable and fast – with our food arriving at the end of the counter almost as soon as we finished paying. A great combination.
Overall, we loved it. It can’t be easy operating in the centre of one of the world’s most expensive cities, but with this combination of flavours, friendliness and fresh marketing ideas – Bunny Chow should have no problem succeeding.
This kind of food is much loved by the people from the Kwa-Zulu-Natal province – who’s fashion council recently sponsored Africa Fashion Week London.
It will be interesting to see if they can rotate some new flavours into the menu over time – to keep the menu fresh – and add extra reasons for a return.
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