Walking up the flight of stairs to newly-opened Burma Bistro is to transport yourself from the daily hustle and bustle of downtown Yangon to a utopia of Myanmar grandeur. The restaurant’s two floors include terraces flanked by crumbling colonial columns, high ceilings, vintage tiles, traditional teak and rattan furniture, and luscious greenery. The waiting staff are friendly and attentive. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s food, which focuses on Myanmar cuisine with a sprinkle of Thai and Western dishes, doesn’t quite match up to the luxe environment.

On recommendation, I began the meal with a sugar cane juice. The basil and chili version had an exciting depth of flavor and I loved the chili kick. For starters, I ordered the satay. It was solid but not remarkable—the meat well flavored with herbs and the sauce creamy and peanut. The chili oil was a welcome addition. I also sampled the rice in bamboo, which was bizarrely presented and, apart from that, lacked in excitement. The rice—supposedly tomato flavored but pretty bland to my taste—was served on banana leaf inside a hollow bamboo. A pork skewer (well-flavored but a little dry) was sat across it. The accompanying soy sauce was packed with garlic and chili but a little too salty.

The steamed barramundi was cooked with garlic, ginger, and spring onion according to the menu but arrived in a dense oyster sauce tasting broth with potato, mushroom, and cauliflower. It was wholesome and had a good home-cooked feel to it, but was not what I was expecting.

The rainbow salad fell down the same presentation rabbit hole as the rice in bamboo; all the colorful ingredients—red cabbage, beansprouts, peanuts, tofu, potato, two types of noodles—were lined up on the plate before the waiter then took it away to mix it and give it back to us. The result was one of the best flavored-dishes of the night with a pleasant blend of many Myanmar flavours, but I resented the “rainbow” theatrics. The yoghurt and clay pot for afters was another highlight—rich, creamy, dense yoghurt with a sweet jaggery-esque compote.

Burma Bistro has done something special with its renovation of this 20th Century building on Merchant Street and the prices are reasonable considering the surroundings. I wonder if they are playing it safe with the menu’s flavors to cater to a Western audience or if they are still finalizing the recipes. I will be back to find out.

Address: No. 644, First Floor, Corner of Merchant Road and Shwe Bon Thar Road, Pabedan Township
Opening Times: 10am to 11pm
Phone: 09 40118 3838

 

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