Yangon needs more restaurants like Bodhi Nava. From the team behind Green Gallery, this light and airy café meets restaurant meets guesthouse serves up fresh, healthy, yet punchy fusion fare at a reasonable price. The staff are charmingly helpful and the location—at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda and close to Kandawgyi Lake—make it an excellent spot to take visitors.
The high-ceilinged interior with brushed concrete, black metal, and reclaimed wood gives the venue a relaxed, urban vibe. The classic Burmese green blue on one wall is the icing on the Yangon hipster cake. The menu takes influences from Thailand, Myanmar, the West, and the Middle East and marries them cheekily, yet tastily, together.
I started with the Rakhine chicken salad (4,500 kyats). A generous helping of moist shredded chicken was teamed with a citrus tang from lime juice and kaffir lime lives, a crunchy punch from onion and garlic, and a heat from black pepper and chili. The perfect healthy dish for me but, due to the onion and garlic, perhaps not one to wolf down before an important meeting or a hot date.
The hummus with Burmese tea leaf pesto and vegetable sticks (4,000 kyats) was a surprising find on the menu, but another perfect healthy snack that is often absent from Yangon living. The hummus was well-flavoured but perhaps a little too chunky and stiff for easy dipping. The fusion twist of the Myanmar-inspired pesto on top was enchanting.
A somewhat brave fusion dish that ultimately won my heart was the English muffin topped with RaMon shredded pepper chicken and a tamarind and sesame sauce (5,000 kyats). The chicken itself tasted remarkably similar, to me at least, to the Rakhine chicken I had earlier but was well teamed with the soft muffin, sweet and sticky tamarind sauce and crunchy sesame seeds.
The Mon-style Khao Soi with chicken (5,800 kyats) was a very pleasing variation on the oh-no khao swe served up throughout Myanmar. The thick and creamy coconut soup had a spicy heat from chili and turmeric. The serving of chicken was generous but a little dry and chewy.
We ended the meal with a mango smoothie bowl in celebration of the oncoming of Myanmar’s mango season. A semi-frozen mango and banana smoothie was topped with banana and nuts and seeds, including chia—a hipster staple still relatively elusive in Yangon. A beautifully light and healthy end to the meal.
I will be back to Bodhi Nava. In fact, before I even finished the meal I was already thinking how to incorporate a long lingering lunch there into a Saturday or Sunday wonder around Kandawgyi Lake and the parks near Shwedagon.
Address: 17 Bahan 2nd Street, Yangon
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm