It was back in January 2020 that MYANMORE’s writer first visited Havana Social Club which was located on the ground floor of the Urban Asia Centre. With a focus on Latin dance and socialising over drinks and small bites, Havana had a lot of potential to be the mainstay of downtown Yangon’s nightlife scene.

After three years, Havana closed down for a few months before reopening on the bustling Sayarsan Road. This reincarnation has many (if not more) of its former charms, and the author had a chance to explore it before the grand opening.

“It still needs some finishing touches,” admitted Jay, the owner. “But the purpose is pretty much the same – a place to hang out, socialise, and enjoy good food and drinks while listening to live music or learning Salsa.”

The new Havana spans three floors, offering a variety of experiences to suit every taste. You can immerse in live from Thursday to Sunday on the ground floor, be funky with House or RnB DJs on the first floor on Fridays and Saturdays, or enjoy the relative quietness on the second floor’s rooftop terrace.

Besides its in-house kitchen team, Havana is boosted by Two Shoes BBQ and Grill. Its pork ribs were just unbelievable! The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender thanks to three hours of grilling, and the sauce was spot on. A pleasant surprise was the Jamaican Jerk Fish. You might hesitate to try freshwater fish because of its fishiness. 

But the couple behind the grill proved it otherwise. They used fatty butterfish which is notorious for its smell. But for whatever magic the couple did to this fish, the unpleasant smell was gone and replaced by tantalising smoky and spicy flavours. The menu also contains filling dishes like beef tenderloin, braised chicken and sea bass in case you’re hungry.

The author and Jay talked over the delicious meals and drinks. Jay took pride in his kitchen team and mixologists who were all local. To show off his bartender’s skills, he asked him to concoct something outside the menu: the Spicy Mango Margarita.   

It came after 15 minutes. The drink was sweet and sour with a bitter aftertaste. The chili powder around the rim left a tingling sensation on the lips. The small mango cubes on the stick were green. It reminded the writer of the spicy green mango salad on the streets of Yangon. Just as that beloved street food, the drink was fun and unpretentious. Ask for the staff if you can’t find it on the menu on your visit. If you aren’t sure about the chili powder, ask them to coat only half the rim. 

For more conventional patrons, Havana offers classic cocktails. Its in-house concoctions are where traditions meet some twists. The best example is the Rangoon Mule. It was somewhat the same as a Moscow Mule but employed fresh homemade ginger juice and gin instead of vodka. The refreshing minty flavour was still there. If you prefer beer,  Havana offers Carlsberg, Tuborg and a wide selection of Burbrit Craft beers.

But Havana is more than a bar. Every Thursday at 7 pm and Sunday at 5 pm, you can learn Salsa at Ks10,000 (including a complimentary beer or house cocktail). Learn the dance and make new friends. It also hosts a monthly bar quiz on the last Sunday of every month where you can show off your general knowledge, win great prizes and network with the mostly expat crowd. 

To give the establishment more Latin vibes, Tacos Guapos will take over the kitchen every Tuesday starting on 8 August, serving their signature tacos, nachos and other Mexican favourites. Havana is currently open from 3 pm – 11 pm daily, but will soon open from 7 am for coffee, breakfast and lunch. 

Have a little drink or have a little dance, Havana has something for everyone.

No 44A, Sayarsan Road, Bahan Township, Yangon
09 778 779 769
3 pm – 11 pm 

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