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Bunny Chow brings South African tastes to Miramar and North Park

Going beyond biltong and peri peri to try unique national dishes

Bunny chow, a signature Indian-influenced street food from Durban, South Africa
Bunny chow, a signature Indian-influenced street food from Durban, South Africa

As diners in North Park are just beginning to learn: bunny chow is not something to feed your pet rabbit. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with bunnies at all. According to a 2017 story from NPR, the dish is a product of Durban, South Africa, where it was created by Indian merchants (in Sanskrit, “bania”). The NPR piece details its fascinating evolution from Apartheid-era street food to arrogated symbol of South Africa’s diversity. Suffice to say, bania became bunny, and what’s now known as bunny chow is basically a modified Indian curry served in a bread bowl made by scooping the center out of a half-loaf.

Place

Bunny Chow South African Shebeen

7128 Miramar Rd., San Diego


I’ve had to look into all this because Bunny Chow South African Food — the restaurant — now brings made-from-scratch South African fare to two San Diego locations, and I’m playing catch-up. Andrew Georgitsis and Gary Wolfson, a pair of South African emigres opened a full service eatery in Miramar last summer after operating out of a La Jolla Village church, and they launched a second full-time location earlier this month on North Park’s El Cajon Boulevard.


Made with a choice of chicken, lamb, seafood, or vegetables for $25-27, bunny chow is clearly a signature dish here, and worth trying to experience the way the curry soaks into the bread like the spicy stew that it is. But it’s also overshadowed by a long menu featuring other curries dishes, lamb chops, short ribs, hot sandwiches, and arguably the best-known food out of South Africa: peri peri chicken ($25 half, 32 whole).


Another better-known South African food would be the sugar-free beef jerky biltong, which Bunny Chow makes and sells in 4-ounce packages for about $12. You can also buy bottles of the restaurant/caterer’s signature hot sauces (including peri peri); Preston’s ginger beer (made locally by a fellow South African expat); and frozen, take-home packages of the housemade boerewors sausage.

House-made boerewors sausage, made by Bunny Chow South African Food
Sponsored
Sponsored


I wish I could put my finger on why Bunny Chow’s beef and pork sausage is so outstanding — credit a balanced spice blend — but these things are the definition of savory. I got a pair of boerewors, served over rice, by ordering the kebab plate ($22), though you can also get one on a French roll with sides for $25. I don’t think you can go wrong.


Meanwhile, there are yet more distinctive South African tastes to explore here; far too many to keep this Feaster under budget. If you’re dining with a group, Bunny Chow does offer several different sampler platters, so you may tour through a few of its rich proteins. But I had to keep my aim on the so-called national dish of South Africa: bobotie (accent on the last syllable, I was told).


Bootie, a sort of curried meat and egg custard pie sometimes considered the national dish of South Africa


This one’s for fans of shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, and pot pie. The $25 bobotie plate features ground beef seasoned with bay leaf and curry, enveloped in an eggy crust (I opted for ground lamb for $2 more). There’s a little sweetness to its savor, accentuated by what appeared to be homemade golden raisins.


The restaurant vets behind this concept seem to know what they’re doing, which makes Bunny Chow makes a terrific introduction to these things they eat in that faraway part of the world.

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Bunny chow, a signature Indian-influenced street food from Durban, South Africa
Bunny chow, a signature Indian-influenced street food from Durban, South Africa

As diners in North Park are just beginning to learn: bunny chow is not something to feed your pet rabbit. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with bunnies at all. According to a 2017 story from NPR, the dish is a product of Durban, South Africa, where it was created by Indian merchants (in Sanskrit, “bania”). The NPR piece details its fascinating evolution from Apartheid-era street food to arrogated symbol of South Africa’s diversity. Suffice to say, bania became bunny, and what’s now known as bunny chow is basically a modified Indian curry served in a bread bowl made by scooping the center out of a half-loaf.

Place

Bunny Chow South African Shebeen

7128 Miramar Rd., San Diego


I’ve had to look into all this because Bunny Chow South African Food — the restaurant — now brings made-from-scratch South African fare to two San Diego locations, and I’m playing catch-up. Andrew Georgitsis and Gary Wolfson, a pair of South African emigres opened a full service eatery in Miramar last summer after operating out of a La Jolla Village church, and they launched a second full-time location earlier this month on North Park’s El Cajon Boulevard.


Made with a choice of chicken, lamb, seafood, or vegetables for $25-27, bunny chow is clearly a signature dish here, and worth trying to experience the way the curry soaks into the bread like the spicy stew that it is. But it’s also overshadowed by a long menu featuring other curries dishes, lamb chops, short ribs, hot sandwiches, and arguably the best-known food out of South Africa: peri peri chicken ($25 half, 32 whole).


Another better-known South African food would be the sugar-free beef jerky biltong, which Bunny Chow makes and sells in 4-ounce packages for about $12. You can also buy bottles of the restaurant/caterer’s signature hot sauces (including peri peri); Preston’s ginger beer (made locally by a fellow South African expat); and frozen, take-home packages of the housemade boerewors sausage.

House-made boerewors sausage, made by Bunny Chow South African Food
Sponsored
Sponsored


I wish I could put my finger on why Bunny Chow’s beef and pork sausage is so outstanding — credit a balanced spice blend — but these things are the definition of savory. I got a pair of boerewors, served over rice, by ordering the kebab plate ($22), though you can also get one on a French roll with sides for $25. I don’t think you can go wrong.


Meanwhile, there are yet more distinctive South African tastes to explore here; far too many to keep this Feaster under budget. If you’re dining with a group, Bunny Chow does offer several different sampler platters, so you may tour through a few of its rich proteins. But I had to keep my aim on the so-called national dish of South Africa: bobotie (accent on the last syllable, I was told).


Bootie, a sort of curried meat and egg custard pie sometimes considered the national dish of South Africa


This one’s for fans of shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, and pot pie. The $25 bobotie plate features ground beef seasoned with bay leaf and curry, enveloped in an eggy crust (I opted for ground lamb for $2 more). There’s a little sweetness to its savor, accentuated by what appeared to be homemade golden raisins.


The restaurant vets behind this concept seem to know what they’re doing, which makes Bunny Chow makes a terrific introduction to these things they eat in that faraway part of the world.

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