A surprising South African experience… Bunny Chow at Hotel Brittania, Durban

I read a blog about Cultural foods  this morning. The question was asked: What food experience changed your life?  The author shared her experience of Guyana food. And her question started me thinking: what experience stand out for me?

A few years ago I took my family to the Natal South Coast in South Africa, more specifically the ATKV Natalia resort. This is an excellent resort, even more so if you love camping.

As we sat underneath our tent one day, I read the local travelling magazine- The Afrikaans title is “Weg  or “Go”. The article that fascinated me was one about places you should not miss in and around Durban. As the four kids were getting on my nerves in the confined space, I decided to take my wife out for dinner, leaving the kids to the resort’s excellent entertainment program.

This is what we decided on. The “Weg” said one of Durban’s hidden treasures was the Hotel Brittania, the oldest operating hotel in Durban, at Umgeni Road 1299. We put this adress into the GPS, and started looking for it. The “Weg” said you must look past it’s location. And it was good advice. For the area around the Hotel Brittania might have been a tourist’s delight in the 1800’s. Now it is in the industrial part of Durban, underneath a highway bridge, and next to panelbeating shops…  As we South Africans are getting extremely scared of being crime statistics- we are the world champions in murder, hijacking, rape and other non-Olympic events- everything in me screamed to get the hell out of there… Image

But we persevered, because we trust the “Weg”.  We found parking outside and sincerely wished we would still have our vehicle when we leave again.

But once inside the Hotel was beautiful, with a decoration of exotic flowers greeting you in the foyer.

We went to the sportsbar, and ate there, it was much more informal and suited to our taste. The “Weg” said the house speciality was Indian curry.

I grew up in Natal and am familiar with Indian cuisine. I ordered my old favorite from school days- the Bunny Chow. I do not know if the Indian people of India know this dish,or  if it is only South African Indian cuisine. Image

A Bunny Chow is made by carefully cutting the inside of half a loaf of bread out, without breaking the crumb. It is filled with a curry stew, you usually have a choice between chicken, beef or lamb. You also have a choice- extremely hot (mother in law’s hellfire curry), hot, or mild. But mild is for sissy’s!

My wife does not like extremely hot spicy food as much as me, and she ordered some lamb chops, in a chutney, looking like this: Image.

Well- I had a hard time to get the Bunny Chow past my lips- it was VERY hot. But also very delicious!

In this restaurant you will be surrounded by all the different cultures of South Africa. The food is excellent. If you just can get past the area surrounding this hotel…  I told quite a few friends of it, but none of them made it to the hotel, they just turn around and go to the beachfront restaurants… They are missing something unique…

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8 thoughts on “A surprising South African experience… Bunny Chow at Hotel Brittania, Durban

  1. ek vrek oor hot stuff, kerrie en alles wat lekker is, maar ek sou ook eerder jou vrou se keuse gemaak het want ek het glad geheel en al nie ‘n liefde vir brood nie………. miskien omdat ek dit nou kan bekostig om daarsonder te oorleef……………

    ek was in Durban toe ek nog bitter jonk was, seker so nege tien jaar oud, saam met The Star koerant na The Star Sea-side Hotel toe saam met hordes ander minderbevoorregtes…….. en ek moet sê, dit was my eerste kennismaking met die see en die lekker van die lewe!!!!

  2. Jip ken die plek – is my hometown ou Durbs. Dis naby Berman Bush. 3 strate na boontoe, Windemere Rd en 4 blokke na die stad se kant toe h/v Lambert Rd e Windemere Rd is waar my ouerhuis was. Die area bekend as Morningside. Baie memories nou teruggekom!

  3. I haven’t been to Durbs for donkey’s years, but will remember the Britannia next time we go, thanks to your recommendation and Weg’s.

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