'Haibo’ is an exclamation of surprise, Wow! in Zulu – exactly the reaction we are trying to get from people when they come here,' says owner of hai.bo, Theuns Smuts. 'We want our guests to express surprise and delight when they see the décor, have a cocktail or taste the food.' The interiors were created in conjunction with Durban industrial and interior designer Gareth Henderson and they certainly surprise and delight. 'We went for a "Traditional. African. Kitsch" theme,' he explains. 'I tried to interpret traditional or African or kitsch elements in a new way. Like cladding an entire wall in ceiling roses (the traditional element) and then painting it gold (kitsch), or panelling the bar in bright shweshwe fabric in a very simple way (African) and then surrounding it with a traditional cornice. We also powder coated a typical cast iron table base in electric blue and painted traditional imbuia furniture in surprising colours such as the electric yellow in the bathroom. I then chose to wallpaper the bathroom walls in a South African brand, surprisingly, Scope magazine. The same goes for the sangoma pamphlets which are actually specific to Durban and give the restaurant provincial context.' 'We are going to include little unexpected elements all the time at hai.bo,' smiles Theuns. 'From impromptu performances by Kevin Ellis to burlesque dancers making the bar their stage or a smoking coal in the centre of your chicken korma, there will always be something quirky and exciting going on here.' hai.bo has three separate areas: the café-bar, the upstairs dining room and an open-air courtyard. 'We want people to be able to come here three times a week and have three different experiences or to move around the space as their evening progresses. There’s no dress code and we want everyone to feel at home here. It is like a train station: people meet here before or after another event as much as they make this their venue for a night out.' Open from 11am until 2am, hai.bo’s kitchen will serve pizza and pasta until closing time, making it a popular late night spot. Go and be surprised yourself at 18 Lilian Ngoyi Road (formerly Windermere). Find them on Twitter or Facebook for all the latest news and information. Text: Candice Botha