Mundo Vida, Umdloti
'If you are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or just to treat someone special, you will not be disappointed by a visit to this little coastal gem.'
Umdloti, on Durban’s North coast, is one of the still relatively unspoilt areas along this busy coastline. I experienced its quiet nostalgia on a recent trip to KZN and it reminded me of the Durban of my childhood – reddish-gold beaches and the air thick with humidity and the sweet smell of frangipani. Acres of sugar cane fields along the KZN coast have given way to gargantuan developments, but Umlodti is fortunately made up largely of reserve area, allowing it to keep its coastal charm. Only a handful of businesses occupy the small, developed beachfront area and one of these spaces is home to Mundo Vida, a seafood restaurant, with influences from cultures from around the world.
We arrived at the restaurant without a booking, but were greeted at the door by one of the owners, Joni Wilkinson. We were seated at a table just inside the restaurant. In hindsight we were lucky to get in when we did, as the restaurant filled up very quickly. The outside deck was already fully booked, but the cool of the aircon inside was a very welcome compromise. The entire front of the restaurant consists of a roofed deck and boasts an endless view over the Indian Ocean. Having just come off a cruise that day, the uninterrupted view (coupled with our slightly wobbly land legs) gave us the feeling of still being aboard.
We mulled over a number of delicious sounding options on the menu, but when our waiter listed a mouth-watering selection of daily specials, we opted for two of those – rib eye and seared salmon. We ordered a starter of tempura kingklip, and when my partner saw a focaccia being delivered to a table nearby he had sudden case of plate envy, and promptly ordered one of those too.
The tempura kingklip starter was light, crispy and a great way to start the evening. Following, were two mains that kept us in a contented silence for the rest of the meal, perhaps not ideal for a romantic evening out, but certainly made our taste buds very happy.
The rib eye was juicy, well seasoned and perfectly cooked. Steak can be a concerning choice to have at a seafood restaurant, but we needn’t have feared, it would have rivalled any great steakhouse. The salmon was perfectly pink, and served with a wasabi mash, which my partner described as ‘banging’. He has been trying to recreate its smooth texture and flavour ever since – hitting that perfect wasabi kick is an art.
We were positively bulging at this stage, but simply could not pass up trying the crème brûlée, and honestly I am glad we didn’t. It was the best crème brûlée I have ever eaten – full stop.
One of the things that really stood out for us at Mundo Vida was the service, which was, in a word, outstanding. The wait staff were friendly and knowledgeable and managed to find the right balance between being attentive, without being overbearing.
Mundo Vida is the real deal – at lunchtime, the views over the ocean are fantastic and in the evening, the lull of the waves crashing makes for the perfect background noise. If you are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or just to treat someone special, you will not be disappointed by a visit to this little coastal gem.
Fabulous food & stunning views