Each time I go to dine at Root I tend to stagger out, often hours later, feeling a little bewildered, wondering how much of what happened inside the restaurant was real. Root is a multisensory experience—the food is punchy, the cocktails are strong, the décor is arresting, and the atmosphere is lively. Perhaps this is of little surprise as Root specializes in in the cuisine of Wa—an ethnic group who control a territory the size of Belgium in Myanmar’s East, known for their wildness.
Located on the lower block of Yangon’s Bo Myat Htun, it’s a prime location to begin a night before heading off to Beat Bar, Seventh Joint, or Jazz in Time. The décor is fabulous: Tables cleaved out of large pieces of tree, brightly-colored fabric, and walls adorned with pieces of animal and musical instruments. It’s a cavernous space, and with large tables and reasonably-priced drinks it can get a little raucous.
The cocktails were some of the best I have tasted in Yangon. The Farmer’s Tea had a fantastic bitterness and tea flavor while the Bliss was packed with real strawberry and had a nice a tang of Thai Basil.
The food will excite even the most seasoned gastronome. The smoked beef moik (4,500 kyats) is Wa’s answer to risotto. A wet rice dish with a fantastic earthy meaty flavor. The mashed potato (4,000 kyats) is far more flavorsome than the West’s equivalent—with liberal amounts of garlic, chili, and herbs.
The salads (2,000 kyats) were also winners. In the green bean salad, sesame and ginger, complimented the crisp and fresh green beans while the egg plant salad had a wonderful slippery smokiness. The highlight of the night for me was the grilled pork neck (6,500 kyats for a large portion); it was beautifully spiced with a tart charred flavor, with the meat left tremendously juicy and tender. The only criticism I have is that the chicken wings were nothing to write home about. Nor was the bok choy, and at 4,000 kyats it was nowhere near a good value as the salads.
All in all, however, I estimate an evening of sumptuous food and cocktails at Root is likely to come in at quite a bit less than your average meal in a restaurant of that quality. It’s fulsome, flavor-packed, and just a little bit frenetic. Perhaps the flavor combinations are not for everyone, but for me, its one of the best places for local food in the city.
Address: Bo Myat Htun Street | Bo Myat Tun Tower, Yangon (Rangoon) 11062, Myanmar
Phone: +95 9 45669 6695