A Gourmet Food Tour of Yangon

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

From fine-dining versions of Myanmar’s traditional dishes to delicious international offerings and a bustling farmers’ market, the Southeast Asian city is a feast for hungry explorers.

Local dishes with a luxury twist

Sitting pretty in what was once the Bank of India building, the recently opened Pandsodan is a modern Burmese brasserie that takes a contemporary approach to some of the country’s most-loved dishes. The menu includes a modern take on mohinga, a traditional fish and rice noodle soup that’s served with fragrant condiments, seven salads (including the classic pickled tea leaf variety) and Shan-style noodles with minced chicken or pork stewed in tomatoes. There’s also a nod to Myanmar’s Asian neighbours with the inclusion of satay sticks and biryani. From the glittering gold-leaf ceiling to the green-tiled walls and marble floors, it’s a sophisticated addition to the city’s dining scene.

Modern takes on traditional dishes at The Pansodan

Credit: The Pansodan

International flavours

There are more stylish surrounds to be found at Gekko, which is located in the beautiful Sofaer & Co building that was built in 1906. Meaning ‘moonshine’ in Japanese, Gekko’s extensive collection of whisky and sake, as well as a cocktail menu designed by Singapore’s famous 28 Hong Kong Street bar, has earnt it a loyal following. As has the food – a range of yakitori skewers come hot off the charcoal-fired grill, while the menu is also studded with delicious Korean and Vietnamese dishes.

For a taste of Italy, it has to be Parami Pizza. There are three outlets specialising in authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and fresh pasta dishes located across the city, but the original venue on Parami Road is a locals’ favourite thanks to the outdoor terrace that’s perfect for a chilled aperitif. The European theme continues at Seeds, which is located in a light-filled space next to Inya Lake. Established by a Swiss husband-and-wife team, dishes on the a la carte menu move from truffle ravioli to lamb entrecote with a French mustard crust and green pea mousseline and end with a Swiss chocolate mousse with mango and passion fruit. Grab a spot in the Lake Lounge for stunning sunset views. 

Lakeside seating at Seeds

Credit: Seeds

Grab a drink in stylish surrounds

Situated among Strand Road’s historic buildings, Port Autonomy recently reopened with a Mexican-meets-maritime flavour. The cocktails are a real draw here as are the boozy brunches and live DJ sets – kick off your evening with a Return of the Jetty, a refreshing blend of vodka, lemongrass, fresh citrus and frothed egg whites served in an enamel cup. On the food menu, excellent kimchi quesadillas and panko-crusted snapper tacos, as well as mouth-wateringly good signature beef brisket burgers and fried chicken dishes, ensure everyone is kept well fed. Like the big neon sign above the bar says – war tee, which means ‘enjoy eating’ in Burmese.

Sitting in an early-1900 heritage house at the end of a quiet road, Le Planteur feels a million miles away from Yangon’s busy streets. Take advantage of the tranquil surrounds and relax by the lake while enjoying sandwiches, scones and cakes as part of the afternoon tea offering (with a glass of champagne, of course) or head here in the evening to explore the restaurant’s extensive wine cellar – the restaurant’s state-of-the-art kit means more than 30 bottles are available to sample by the glass.

Mexican-meets-maritime at Port Autonomy

Credit: Port Autonomy

Start your day the healthy way

Los Angeles meets Yangon at health-focused Locale, which places a huge emphasis on fresh and sustainably sourced ingredients. Enjoy a morning jog around Inya Lake and stop for a bite to eat at this welcoming Central Boulevard spot – breakfast includes mango and coconut or dragon fruit smoothie bowls and avocado toast topped with softly poached eggs and pickled jalapeños. From salads to wraps, it’s an all-day dining, plant-packed destination.

Salad Bowls at Locale

Credit: Locale

Give something back to the community

Enjoy a great meal while supporting a good cause at Shwe Sa Bwe, a French restaurant that runs free hospitality training programmes for local students. From casual lunches to fine-dining dinners, the team source seasonal ingredients to feature in the regularly changing set menu. Cakes, croissants and baguettes are also made at the on-site bakery and are best enjoyed at Yangon’s organic-focused Farmer’s Market, which takes place in Karaweik Gardens next to Kandawgyi lake every Saturday during the dry season and sees street-food vendors and local producers sell their wares. For more pop-up eats and drinks, and the chance to buy a range of handmade arts and crafts, check out dates for the Maker’s Market.

Also supporting organic farming and local communities is Parasol at the French Institute on Pyay Road, a farm-to-table restaurant that encourages diners to reconnect with nature through their seasonal menus and outdoor dining area. Keep an eye out for themed events celebrating various ingredients – from mango to jackfruit – as well as pop-up markets, talks, film screenings and traditional Burmese dance evenings. 

Le Plateur's wine cellar

Credit: Le Planteur

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