Just north of Inya Lake is the refurbished villa of Shwe Sa Bwe, a catering school and restaurant that offers a charming fine dining experience.
Although perhaps better known for its dinners, the French restaurant reshuffled its lunch menu this week, introducing some exciting new additions to its two- course and three course meals.
Making and serving the cuisine are about 20 young apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are chosen from across Myanmar through the restaurant’s sprawling network and start the 11-month course in August.
Now we’re in March and the fledgling chefs and staff are truly getting into the swing of things. Since Shwe Sa Bwe began in 2011, it has trained over 100 students, and this new batch are slated to join their alumni in top hotels, restaurants and cruises.
General manager Margot Mongibeaux said 80 percent of students complete the course and they enjoy a 100-percent employment rate, with many of the best students staying on to teach.
“When you buy the food it is not only buying food but giving a chance for the students to learn and progress,” she told Myanmore. “All the income generated by the students goes to the school.”
The lunch menu costs 21,000 kyats for two courses, 25,000 kyats for three courses, and 7,000 kyats for a mini cheese plate. Each course has a choice of four dishes that rate well in variety. There’s also the ever-changing ‘Special of the Day’ tailored to business lunches that include two or three courses for 19,000 kyats or 21,000 kyats plus a cup of hot beverage.
Among the starters is a salad of grilled chicken drizzled in honey mustard and bunched with slices of apple and grape—like the salmon rillettes with toast and salad, it is a light dish that sets up the diner nicely for the mains.
A rich, hearty choice for the next course is the Geneva-style pork stew with pearl onions and—in a pot on the side—spatzle, a Swiss kind of soft egg noodle. A colorful, creamy and vegetarian choice is the sautéed spinach in vol-au- vent, turned zucchini and capsicum coulis. To wipe the plates clean is refillable baskets of homemade bread.
The food is creative, the ingredients are quality, and the environment is fun, with the talented pastry chef offering customers a fine selection of desserts. These include roasted pineapple and cream tartlet, and choux-filled with ice cream and salted caramel.
Dinner menus are changed every three weeks and lunch menus are changed every month at Shwe Sa Bwe, but although the dishes may often be revamped, what stays the same is the worthy goal of the non-profit—and the fact that every customer contributes to it.
Address: 20 Malikha Street, near the American Club off Parami Road, Mayangone Township
Opening hours: 12pm to 2.30 pm and 6.30pm to 9.30pm (last order),
Dinner is served between 6.30 pm and 9.30 pm (last order),
Closed Mondays. Sundays are dinners only.
Telephone: 01 661983, 09 4210 05085
(Shwe Sa Bwe is open for dinners only from April 13-15 during this Thingyan. The restaurant closes as usual on Monday and returns to normal hours on Tuesday 17)