Cafe Salween already earned a distinct spot in Yangon’s F&B landscape. Its modern reimagination of timeless Burmese food and a wicked collection of hot and cold coffees have made it a heartthrob among foodies and coffee lovers.

So, when it ventured into the highly contested (and already congested) rooftop bar arena with Salween 180, it got our attention. Sitting on the eighth floor of the Parkside One Building, it surely cannot excel in altitude game while many established places are above the 10th storey (Atlas is on the 12th and Yangon Yangon, soaring 20th!). But height is not the only deciding factor in this game.

View-wise, the terrace is divided into two partitions each with its own attraction. The wider part has a vista of the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda gleaming under the sun. This part is also more lounge-like with couches and long tables. It is better for people who come for food and in groups. The narrower segment is complete with tall seats and a wooden counter. It offers a sombre sunset scene, perfect for lone wolves to spend the long evening with a drink in hand watching the sun as it melodramatically sinks into the horizon.

I was seated at a table with a pagoda view. When I skimmed the menus, I saw many familiar items that made its older sister famous. The coffee and desserts are also there. The additions are, obviously, cocktails and wines. Understandably, the small plate section has a wider selection that its cafe counterpart and many of them make nice drink food such as prawn balls and fried pork ribs. I ordered Baked Fish with Kachin Herbs in Banana Leaves (Ks8,000) and a Shan Hills are Calling cocktail (Ks9,500) for pairing.

The cocktail came first. The staff poured the mixture of Campari and Shan tea into the glass through the dried orange peel that covered its rim. The black specks were just ground tea leaves and were completely harmless. I could sense the refreshing trace of lemon and the bittersweetness of Shan tea, Campari, Bacardi and honey. Easy to drink yet packed a punch, it was appetising, too.

The fish came after 15-20 minutes. The diced and boneless butterfish was mixed with savoury herbs, chili and garlic. The herbs helped with the fatty fish and the banana leaves enhanced the flavour. Fish curries are Cafe Salween’s selling points but baked fish has its own perks, like the cleaner taste and flavour profiles. It also tingled my taste buds and prepared me for a larger meal.

And for it, I selected Laphet Pork Chop (Ks15,000) from the main dish section. Laphet (tea leaves) and pork are regarded as food royalties in Burmese cuisine. So, I wanted to see how their marriage in plate turn out.

After the first meal, it was well over 5 pm. The sun became softer and the evening breeze brought a cold comfort that was the life of every rooftop establishment. And I could feel the Shan Hills working its magic.

Baked Fish with Kachin Herbs

The large plate came after 20 minutes and I ordered their happy hour cocktail for Thursdays dubbed Yangon’s Rainbow (Ks8,500). The staff explained it was to celebrate the city’s LGBTQ+ community. It contained vodka, tequila, pomegranate juice, midori, etc. The colourful concoction was too sweet for me. It was almost juice! But one cannot deny its Insta-worthy appeal and affability.

The pork was not melt-in-your-mouth but still ok to chew. I found the laphet, chili and garlic smashed and stuffed into the crevice of the meat, giving it a profound taste and flavour. The potatoes were cooked unevenly as some of them were pretty hard. The whole plate was pretty filling. Personally, small plates are more recommended than fast-filling heavy dishes since the place demands you to spend a long time with friends sampling and savouring its many offerings.

The grills needed some time to be prepared, I was told by the staff. So if you love pairing your grill with a cold drink, do not order your drink in advance or it will be warm when the food arrives. The staff was really attentive — I saw them asking every customer whether the food and the drinks were okay. They also offer happy hour deals every day so check with the staff before ordering. The ideal time to visit is after 5 pm.

The one-month-young Salween 180 has a long way to go. But it has many advantages: reasonable pricing, a wide range of appetisers, experience to run a fusion kitchen, etc. Is Salween’s shot at a new high a hit or a miss? Tell us what you think in the comments.

No 271, Parkside One Building, Bagaya Street, Yangon
09 776 774 058
12pm – 11pm

P.S.: In the case of the elements, you can also sit in the main building.

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aim-for-new-high-salween-180-reviewCafe Salween already earned a distinct spot in Yangon's F&B landscape. Its modern reimagination of timeless Burmese food and a wicked collection of hot and cold coffees have made it a heartthrob among foodies and coffee lovers. So, when it ventured into the highly contested...

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