Opened in May, the Grand Library on downtown’s Bo Aung Kyaw Street serves up standard Burmese and regional fare in a light two-storey restaurant. Unfortunately, after a lunch at the Grand Library, I failed to see what new the restaurant brought to the table. The service was enthusiastic, but the setting was not worth paying over the odds for what you could find in a simple local eatery. I will not be back.
With big windows overlooking the recently repainted Secretariat and high ceilings, Grand Library would be a good setting for a funky new venue in the heart of historic downtown. The proprietor seems to have half-heartedly styled the interiors. There’s some colonial-style wall art, original wooding floorings, and some cute alcove ceilings upstairs, but there’s also bland furniture, a lot of white light, and cheap plastic flowers.
The menu includes a good array of Myanmar classics including curries, salads, stir-fries, and grilled meats for around 5,000 to 10,000 kyats. I started with the chicken salad (4,500 kyats) which included a generous helping of chicken breast, crunchy onions, juicy tomatoes, and punchy flavours of kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and citrus. It had a powerful chili hit which I enjoyed but may put some people off. A good helping of spinach (2,000 kyats) was fresh and served with big pieces of garlic and dried shrimps.
The Masala chicken (6,500 kyats) had good rich flavours of herbs and spices but was a little too oily. One piece of chicken looked a little undercooked on the inside and although it was served with some vegetable sticks and a spicy salsa, rice was extra (800 kyats). The dessert menu looked interesting: a coconut cream rice ball and a durian sticky rice, but everything except the mixed fruit and yoghurt (3,000 kyats) was unavailable. The fruit and yoghurt was fine.
I don’t enjoy discouraging readers from visiting a restaurant, especially places like Grand Library where the staff are friendly and engaging, but I can’t see what it offers in comparison to other nearby eateries: neither the food nor the setting would be worth a second visit for me. The restaurant does stock a good variety of beer and Magners cider and the “beer bites” menu looked promising. If they can replace the bright white lights, it may be better as a downtown drinking den.
Address: No. 277, Bo Aung Kyaw Street (Middle Block, Yangon
Hours: 7am-10pm, every day
Phone: 09 564 0777