Having been named as the world’s best food city by such prestigious publications as Condé Nast Traveler and The Telegraph, Cape Town in South Africa stands out as a must-visit destination for the world’s foodies. Restaurants such as The Test Kitchen have enjoyed top recognition, being ranked in the Top 30 restaurants in the world.
But quality cuisine is certainly not limited to Cape Town. The eastern coastal city of Durban, treasured for its long beaches and warm seas typical of the tropical climate it enjoys, has also developed into a city with numerous superlative 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,” comments Freddy Pather, the concierge at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward, an elegant hotel from a bygone era that offers beautiful vistas across the Indian Ocean. “The bunny chow – half a 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 South Africa is characterised by its Indian population which settled here in the late 19th century, bringing typical Indian cuisine, such as curries, to the shores of the country.”
Pather’s colleague, Johnny Sababathey, knows the best places for this unique delicacy. “My recommendation for a particularly tasty bunny chow is Goundens Restaurant in Umbilo Road,” he comments. These two concierges certainly 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,” warns Pather. “I recommend that you don’t ask for the hottest spice in the dish of your choice – you may become flammable!”
While in the Durban area, tourists can also savour the flavours of the island of Mauritius, located north-east of Durban – without having to travel there! Ile Maurice is a much loved restaurant situated in Umhlanga Rocks, just north of Durban itself. “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,” explains Pather. “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 these 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
Further advice is offered by staff from Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban uMhlanga, where the focus is on unusual desserts. The bubble waffles, churros and dessert tacos from Plan b Dessertery, and the ice cream macarons from Sugarlicious are bound to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You’ll love what Durban has to offer foodies – and there is so much to do there, too. From surfing and ocean swimming, to the thrill of the wild at the many nature and game reserves close by, this is a region of South Africa well worth a visit.