Desmond Francis is on a Mediterranean-inspired mission to bring hummus, falafel and other healthy snacks to Myanmar plates.
The 45-year-old restaurant manager-cum-chef splashed a taste of The Levant on the menu of Italian diner P for Pizza on Yaw Min Gyi street last month. Now he is planning to change the name to ‘Oliva’ – reflecting the culinary expeditions outside of pizza territory.
Francis, who has more than 20 years in the food industry, picked up his passion for the cuisine from previous jobs at Yangon places such as Strand Hotel, Le Planteur and The Lab Wine & Tapas Bar.
“I fell in love with serving this kind of food in Myanmar,” he said. “I just want to give Myanmar a different taste.”
Oliva has already begun as a small stall in the food court of shopping mall Junction City. It serves hummus, falafel and pizza, whereas the Yaw Min Gyi spot has a wider set of options.
Decent-sized portions at the restaurant are brought out on wooden platters, the type of food that instantly hits the spot. Mildly spiced falafels wrapped in warm pita and served with tangy homemade garlic sauce costs 5,000 kyats.
The satisfying Shawarma chicken wraps with fries cost 6,000 kyats and 10-inch pizzas with toppings cost up to 10,000 kyats. Core ingredients such as the flour and tomato puree are sourced from Italy, while also on the menu are pastas, paninis and treats like brownies (1,500 kyats) and tiramisu (4,000 kyats).
The Mediterranean push is not limited to the restaurant and Junction City stall, as since two months ago the firm also has had a presence in the canteens of International School Yangon ISY and Institut francais de Birmanie. Expect more of this healthy fare from the P for Pizza/Oliva guys in 2018.
Address: Junction City shopping mall/ 62(A) Yaw Min Gyi Street
Phone: 09 979 336416
Opening hours: 9am-10pm