Bunnychow in Soho
After starting life as a pop-up, Bunnychow has had a heavy South African revamp and now fits seamlessly into the abundance of eateries in Soho. If you had no idea that a bunny was a traditional South African curry in a hollowed-out bread loaf, then the first impression won’t give you any clues either. Think subdued red lighting, chain mail adorning the windows and casual stool dining. South Africa conjures up images of bright, colourful smiles awash with the green, blue, red and black of the country’s flag; it’s clear that Bunnychow is trying to spin its own tale from the traditional idea of South African street food – and it works.
Bunnychow is all open plan, so you can see exactly how much effort goes into your food. Ordering is no different to other fast-food-cum-gourmet restaurants; menus hang above the tills, written in graffiti and on rough-edged brown paper. Friendly staff are proud to talk a novice through exactly what you’re ordering, and exactly how you should eat it.
Eyes will be immediately drawn to the Chakalaka, a combination of spicy chicken, tomato, raita and mango chutney, served in a hollowed-out brioche loaf in an old-school mess tin. It’s an interesting mix of familiar Indian flavours with rustic twists of South African influence that takes it into a new territory. Eating with the odd combo of wooden fork and plastic knife, reaching into the mess tin, at first proves slightly challenging. Bunnychow may have the decor of a more up-market dining experience, but they are keen on you getting to grips, hands-on, with your bunny.
A side of monkey gland glazed chicken wings is irresistible. This is not your average side: the monkey gland sauce really sets them apart from any wings you will have eaten before, with a smoky taste and a kick of spice. The gripe here is that there’s only two. For only £1 extra on a £5 main, however, these are a great addition. To chase the meal, we opted for North Beach cocktails – a generous dash of white rum mixed with coco cream, coco water, banana, lime and lemon, served in a jam jar with a handle. It’s the perfect accompaniment to this dish, especially when the monkey gland spice gets a little overpowering – refreshing and tart.
If you’re experiencing South African cuisine for the first time, this is a friendly, non-tonsil punching level of spice that’s accessible to all palettes. Balancing bold flavours with raita gives a comforting pleasure. Bunny is in fact a staple dish in South Africa, and it’s not difficult to see why.
For those seeking an authentic South African dining experience, Bunnychow isn’t it. It’s aimed at those who want to take those tentative first steps into a new cuisine, street-food style, and step away from standard chain restaurants that are now a stalwart of Soho.
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Photos: Melissa Harper
Bunnychow doesn’t take bookings, just turn up to 74 Wardour Street Soho London W1F 0TE, for further information visit here.