‘Luxury shisha’ comes to Yangon

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Blow Bar & Gril.. (Rasmus Steijner)

A fruity aroma whirls through a new and slightly ambiguously named open-air bar on the fourth floor of Myanmar Plaza in Bahan Township.

The pleasing clouds of smoke come from the shishas in Blow Bar & Grill, a trendy establishment teeming with young professionals since opening on January 11.

“I believe this is the only place where you can have ‘luxury shisha,’” the bar’s general manager Zayar Aung told Myanmore on a recent visit.

The shisha is the tobacco and the hookah is the pipe you smoke it from—both are meticulously sourced and presented for their high quality at Blow.

It is important to note here that smoking shisha is addictive and harmful to your health—like any other type of smoking. So the following is for those interested in trying hookah. Non-smokers who visit the establishment have the option of a decent menu, which the article gets to later.

A customer inhales shisha at Blow. (Rasmus Steijner)

The futuristic hookahs come from Czech Republic firm Meduse and their innovative designs pursue the venue’s Bladerunner-esque vibe.

Placing a beer on the spaceship-logo of a Blow coaster, Myanmore took one of the plastic mouth tips and inhaled Las Ananas, a sweet blend of pineapple and kiwi with hints of rosemary.

As you may have guessed by now, Blow takes its shisha seriously. Imagine a Subway counter, but for smoking: fruit is picked from Tupperware boxes to line the pod, water is then poured in, and the US-imported tobacco goes on top, with a space between that and the charcoal to avoid any burned flavors.

No pinned foil here, and neatly dressed staff (bowties/black dresses) check frequently to ensure everything is okay.

The high-end hookahs cost 45,000-50,000 kyats each and last for roughly one and a half hours. Other flavors include Milky Way, a tropical taste of coconut and roasted coffee with an option of adding white rum to the water, and Lolita, sour cherry and lime with sharp mint and an optional dark rum addition.

Meduse hookah. (Rasmus Steijner)

Unfortunately, in case you were wondering, you cannot get drunk from smoking shisha, but spirits like tequila, vodka and rum can compliment the flavors. A high-end hookah will bag you one of the ‘boxes,’ a line of seven capsules striped with soft red lighting and overlooking the Sedona Hotel.

Blow as a whole has the capacity for 160 people, with the shisha station, where smaller 25,000-30,000-kyat hookahs are also available, and a small bar on one end, and an open kitchen on the other.

The ‘grill’ part involves a capable kitchen dishing out fusion food and meaty Western fare, a reason for non-smokers to visit.

Dishes like the vegetable tempura (5,000 kyats) and teriyaki chicken (7,500 kyats) are generously portioned and look attractive, presented on black plates.

Grilled king prawns with lemon butter. (Rasmus Steijner)

The cuisine gets quite sophisticated and there are some indulgent options, like the grilled king prawns with lemon butter (11,000 kyats).

But the kitchen also has strong simple choices like whole grilled fish (9,000 kyats), Thai food, and a range of steaks.

A choice of about five beers include Myanmar Premium and Kirin and are priced at 2,000-4,000 kyats per glass. Wine cost 6,000-8,000 per glass/30,000-44,000 per bottle and a flute of champagne cost 9,000 kyats but bottles (44,000 kyats the cheapest) are also available.

The bar’s creator Chan Nyein Soe is also behind trendy bar After 8 next door, molecular cocktail bar Roof Alchemy, and Fuse nightclub, also in Myanmar Plaza. With Blow, he has creatively filled a niche that offers a novel experience in one of Yangon’s trendiest settings.

Address: 4th Floor, Myanmar Plaza, Corner of No.1 Industrial Road and Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar

Phone: 09 778 788778

Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 5pm-2am

Myanmore has updated this article after reader feedback highlighted the dangers of smoking shisha. For more information, visit www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking/shisha.

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