Mu Ai could perhaps once have been described as “one of Yangon’s best-kept secrets”, tucked away in a little back street in Hledan this tiny restaurant with just 6 tables was for a long time only known to those in the know. That has all changed in the last year or so as Head Chef and owner Ko Pandang La Roi has built up a considerable following for his innovative, flavourful and beautifully presented Kachin Food. In fact, there’s a good chance that you will have had the opportunity to sample his intricately designed dishes even if you haven’t visited Mu Ai yet, as Chef La Roi is in big demand to showcase his skills. If you’ve attended a pop-up or charity event in the last 12 months at The Rangoon Tea House, Burma Bistro, The Envoy, The Goethe Institute or the Secretariat to name but a few, then it is more than likely you will have sampled some of Mu Ai’s fabulous food,
Chef La Roi developed an early interest in cooking as he helped his mother in the kitchen of their Bhamo home. The dishes he prepares today are all excellent ambassadors of the food from his home state of Kachin, and many of the ingredients he uses are brought down to Yangon from Myanmar’s northernmost state. The family feel of the intimate restaurant is a significant factor in the meal experience, and Chef La Roi seems to be as present in the restaurant as much as he is in the kitchen, the time that he takes to introduce newcomers to Kachin cuisine adds a real touch of personality to the meal.
In Kachin Mu Ai means “delicious” and the name of the restaurant rings true, as every dish on the extensive menu is a beautiful combination of flavours prepared using fresh ingredients. Kachin food tends to er on the spicy side, with a hint of sour, but there is a distinctive lack of oil as well, which means the flavours aren’t masked, and the textures of the food become as important to the meal as the taste. With enough on the menu to justify several visits, favourites include Quince and Chicken Soup, and the signature dish of Pounded Mutton cured with lime, chilly, Vietnamese coriander, and garlic.
For his flavourful food, innovative menu, and incredible attention to detail in presentation, Chef La Roi’s Mu Ai restaurant is a worthy winner of the 2019 Myanmar Restaurant of the Year. Congratulations Chef!
Address: Hledan 1st Street, Kamayut Township
Tel: 09 9742 81883
Opens 9am – 9pm