What is it? Keen to try out exotic ethnic cuisine from a remote part of Myanmar?
Located on Bo Myat Tun Road, ROOT is the place to go. It is the first modern Wa restaurant and bar in Yangon, serving traditional Wa ethnic food from the northern Wa state, with traditional cocktails made of Wa liquor. What makes Wa food so special and exclusive is because Wa state is still largely forbidden for foreigners to enter, so we’re all in for a treat! Many of their ingredients, tea leaves, liquor and even décor pieces have had to be transported on a two-day journey from Wa state to Yangon.
Atmosphere: Its décor exudes comfort. The use of timber and driftwood on surfaces and as objects lend a sense of tactility and add character to the space. The warm lighting also creates a relaxing ambience. Wa elements have also been sporadically introduced into the space that allow diners to get as close to understanding a bit of Wa culture and its people. The wall has been decorated with Wa instruments, bamboo frames with photos of Wa people from the region, along with twig-designed lamps and a bull’s head that reminds us of animal hunting culture that still prevails today. On the chairs, colourful Wa fabric with a unique style of weaving is sewn onto the cushion covers. Some have also been embroidered with silver metal.
The traditional way of enjoying Wa food is to dine over a staple food like rice (moik), paired with main dishes and a soup. Dining is usually a group affair.
Wa rice or moik is brown rice cooked in stew. The shape of the grain is usually thicker that the common types that we know and can be cooked in three styles; wet, medium, and dry, with your choice of additional vegetables or meat like pumpkin, chicken or beef.
For the main dishes, they are usually cooked in styles of boiling, grilled, and salad. Most of the dishes have health benefits.
We start our meal with chicken salad(8,000 KS). The meat is juicy and the dish is slightly spicy. They can also accede to your request should you want a spicier dish. We also have a beef salad (6,000 KS), which is not too dry and viscous. The potato salad (3,500 KS) reminds us of French fries, but flavored with seasoning. Our main dishes include the Grilled Chicken Wings (5,000KS), which comes in a mix of drumsticks and wings. The skin is crispy and the meat is tender.
Our highlight of the meal is the grilled fish (8,000KS). It is seasoned well with herbs and grilled to perfection. A side spicy sauce condiment complements.
ROOT’s Shan Noodle (4,500 KS) is also a must try. The noodle strands are smooth and thin, and a spicy soup complements.
Moving on to beverages – we have enjoyed the Wa green tea (2,200 KS). The leaves are organically grown in their hometown in the owner’s yard in Wa state. The taste is subtle which makes it easy to drink.
Wa liquor is a leader in the cocktails section. It is fermented millet that can be added/mixed with traditional cocktails, giving the final concoction a refreshing twist. Other recommended drinks include the pure Wa liquor shot (2,000 KS), Wa Tang Clan (7,000KS), Wa Dream(7,000 KS), and Wajito (6,000 KS).
It is a rare opportunity to meet Wa people in Yangon or almost impossible to visit Wa State. So, ROOT has done an excellent job in showing us their tradition and culture through their healthy and hygienic food, refreshing drinks, cosy atmosphere, a well-thought out decoration, and an attentive service.