Yangon is the culinary capital of the country. From street food, to cheap Bamar and Indian eateries, to high-end restaurants with creative chefs serving European, Thai and Japanese cuisine, eating is an unexpected highlight ol a visit to the city. Eat early - by 10pm all but a couple ot places and a few large hotel restaurants will be closed. Unless otherwise specified all the places listed are open for lunch and dinner (noon to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm). Teashops and cafes serving breakfast are also open from at least 8am (and often much earlier).
Travellers keen to avoid government-owned places should bypass the Karaweik Palace Restaurant, which is a remarkable-looking structure on Kandawgyi.
Eating options outside Yangon are limited to mostly Bamar cuisine so many travellers take advantage of the relative diversity until they leave the capital. While this is an understandable strategy to keep the taste buds guessing, it would he unfortunate, as there are several excellent Bamar restaurants that are more interesting than those upcountry.
The more humble-looking the restaurant appears, the more locals probably frequent it. Figure on spending no more than K1500 per person at a cheap joint for a full spread, not including beverages.
Aung Thuka : Hidden on a side street of teashops and mechanics, this is an ever busy, and very cheap, local chop house. Some people swear by this place, some swear about it -certainly the food can be a little oily (maybe from the mechanics?!). It's best to eat here only at lunchtime when the food is fresh. It's not far from the northern entrance to the Shweclagon Paya.
Taw Win Myanmar Food Centre : It's for good reason that this cheap eat gets top marks from staff and guests at the nearby May Fair Inn - its curries really are excellent.
Hla Myanma Htamin Zain : This place is sometimes called Shwe Ba because a famous actor of that name once had his house nearby. Like its neighbour Aung Thuka it's a very simple, plain restaurant, where the food is served from rows of curry pots. There are also some Chinese and Indian dishes.
Happy Cafe & Noodles : Do we like noodles? Yes we do! Then Happy Noodles, which, needless to say,has noodles in all their magnificent forms, will make you happy indeed. This new setup for the fashion fiends of Yangon has outdoor roadside seating (perfect for seeing and being seen), tables in the garden or a more discreet air-con indoor section for those who feel they've committed a fashion faux pas. If you don't dig noodles then there are a few rice dishes too.
Monsoon :Inside this classic colonial town house is quite possibly the best Southeast Asian restaurant in Yangon. It's a fully multicultural affair both in terms of the cuisine, which smoothly mixes the highlights of Burmese cooking with dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and the staff, who are a Myanmar-Anglo mix. Often in these jack-of-all-trades restaurants the food isn't that hot, but you needn't worry about that here. Everything that emerges from the kitchen is exceptional, and the atmosphere relaxed and cosmopolitan without letting standards of service slip. Many locals consider it a lunchtime-only restaurant but the dinner service is just as good. Upstairs is an equally good handicraft shop, which, like the restaurant, offers the best-quality products for prices that cannot be faulted.
Feel Myanmar Food :This sophisticated jungle-shack restaurant is reminiscent of a north Myanmar house. It's a superb place to get your fingers dirty experimenting with the excellent range of Bamar dishes, which are laid out in little trays that you can just point to. It's very popular at lunchtime with local businesspeople and foreign embassy staff.
Sandy's Myanmar Cuisine : There's no better place to try Bamar cooking than at Sandy's, overlooking serene Kandawgyi. The colonnaded colonial building and outdoor patio seating heighten the surprisingly affordable dining experience. The mohinga (rice noodles with chicken or fish) breakfast here, compared with the same meal served in the average teashop, is like the difference between haute couture and sweat pants.
Green Elephant Restaurant : Tour groups make this restaurant, which is tarted up like a Chinese temple, part of their Yangon itinerary. If you don't mind rubbing elbows with other foreigners, the upmarket and slightly Westernised Bainar curries, salads, meat and seafood dishes are fair game - just try talking about the beef with yoghurt and grapes without feeling hungry! Service is very good and the restaurant includes an upmarket craft shop.
999 Shan Noodle Shop : Four or five tables are crammed into this tiny, brightly coloured eatery behind City Hall and a short walk from Sule Paya. The menu, printed in English and Burmese, includes filling Shan k'aitq sweh (thin rice noodles in a slightly spicy chicken broth) and myi shay (Mandalay-style noodle soup). Noodle dishes are served with fried tofu triangles and jars of pickled cabbage. The kitchen may sell out of some items by early evening.
Lashio Lay Shan Restaurant :A simple little, sub-road-level place near the corner of Mahabandoola Rd and 51st St, serving the sort of Shan delicacies the less-exciting may prefer not to subject their tummies to. Dried eels is a favourite snack.
Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle Restaurant ;Aung Mingalar is an excellent place to indulge simultaneously in people watching and the sweet sound of noodle sipping. There are always plenty of students hanging around and conversations come easy -though it they don't you can stick your nose in one of the magazines or newspapers lying around. It's a simple and fun restaurant with trendy city cafe overtones.
Maw Shwe Li Restaurant : This small, friendly, out-of-the-way place is usually crowded with locals, and the curries are excellent and cheap. Shan specialities include pet pot kyaw (sour bean condiment) and hmo chunk kyaw (fried mushrooms). It doubles as a bar and can be a little dark but the food gets plenty of local support.
Black Canyon Coffee :Located next door to the Summit Parkview hotel, this is a swish little 'Thai restaurant, which also delves into fusion foods, eg spicy pasta. The noodles are decent as are the Wellington boot-shaped coffees. Lots of locals stop by here.
Yinn Dee Thai Restaurant : Many people will tell you that this informal Thai restaurant, set back from the street, is the best place on the block to eat at and we won't disagree. You could come here every day for a year and still not work your way through everything on the mammoth menu.
Sabai Sabai Thai Restaurant : You can tuck in alfresco at this, one of the best-regarded Thai restaurants in the city, or hide yourself away in the formal indoor dining room. The range of salads is particularly impressive for someone craving a light lunch in the heat of the day. It's very much an expat hang-out.
Padonmar Restaurant : Dine on the mighty fine Thai and Bamar food in the wood-stained interior or take it easy in the bamboo garden room. After eating knock back a tew drinks in the stylish bar and then knock down a few balls at the pool table. It's set in a lovely old house and the trek out here is well worthwhile.
You can sample the whole range of Chinese cuisine in Yangon - from the familiar Cantonese to the less well known Shanghai, Sichuan, Beijing or Hokkien dishes.
For noodles, fried rice and other quick Chinese meals, try the night market in Chinatown, around the corner from the Cantonese temple.
Palei Kywe Restaurant : This restaurant is a two-part affair: one part formal and one part chilled. The menu and prices are the same no matter which room you feel more suited to. Chinese duck is the house speciality and the staff speak English and can advise on dishes.
Okinawa Restaurant :Owned by the same family as the Okinawa Guest House down the road, this funkily decorated eatery has a long list of Chinese delights and fresh Iruit juices. It's also a neat place for a beer in front of a satellite TV thai plays a never-ending stream of films. The Singapore-styit. fried rice is decent.
Nan Yu : The small and attentive Nan Yu is one of the more popular Chinese restaurants in the city centre and has all the usual Cantonese specialities.
Golden Duck Restaurant :The Golden Duck is a real-deal Chinese restau-rant with all manner of'exotic' ingredients in its dishes - if you know what we mean! Fortunately it also has some more user-friendly meals that have taste.
Mandarin Restaurant : Soak up views of the Sule Paya while you eat in this tranquil Fnglish-speaking Chinese, run by the same family that owns the Mayshan Guest House. The Mandarin otters the usual assortment of northern Chinese dishes, vegetarian fare and fresh fish in a clean and fan-cooled setting.
Singapore's Kitchen : This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in town and its waterfront location ensures that the fish is as fresh as can be. The food is excellent and the service good, and it has tables that spill onto the footpath during fair weather. At night it's a bright and busy place, and even better is the late closing time. Besides seatood, it does a good job of crispy-tried duck, as well as lots of veggie and noodle dishes.
Yin Fong Seafood Restaurant :The setting, beside a busy main road, isn't ideal but the seatood sure is. This pricey restaurant has carved a well-founded reputation as one of the top Chinese restaurants in Yangon.
Along Anawrahta Rd, west ot Sule Paya Rd towards the Sri Kali temple, are a number ot shops serving Indian biryani (kycltha dan bank in Burmese), and at night the roti and ilosa (a thin crepe filled with potato; spelt tocshiiy on menus) makers set up along the pavement on the side streets. Indian food is probably the cheapest way of eating in Yangon, particularly at places that serve thali (all-you-can-eat meals of rice and vegetable curries piled on a fresh banana leaf or stainless-steel plate), which often cost only K300. Biryani costs a bit more, around K500. Most places shut around 7prn or 8pm.
New Delhi Restaurant :The tiny, and therefore rather hard to find (look carefully for the small opening hidden amongst I he shops), New Delhi is a superb place for genuine South Indian dishes. The selection includes pun's (puffy breads), idli (rice ball in broth), breathtaking
rnasala dasu and banana leaf thalis as well as a wide variety ot curries. Overhead fans keep the swarms of bugs attracted by the ceiling lights from dive bomb ing your food. The chai ain't had either. The restaurant opens onto the street between 29th and Shwe Bontha Sts.
Shwe Htoo Restaurant :This excellent Indian joint is perfect for either a full meal or just a quick snack (the samosas are superb). It's open later than most, though you're not encouraged to linger, and its palata (fried flatbread) and biryani plate is worthy of mention.
Nila Biryani Shop :Giant cauldrons full of spices, broths and rice bubble away at the front of this bright and brash Indian joint. It's never less than packed, and for good reason: the biryanis are probably among the best that your lips will ever embrace. The chicken has been cooked so slowly and for so long that the meat just drips oft, the rice itself is out of this world and the banana lassi (spelt laci) is divine. Nothing on the menu costs more than K1700 and most is a fraction of that. It's far and away the best of several similar nearby places.
Bharat Restaurant : One of the most reliable Indian restaurants in the city centre, this place has a strong focus on the coconut flavours of the southern half of the subcontinent. Bharat's marble-topped tables make a nice change from the long cafeteria-style tables at the Indian places on Anawrahta Rd.
Golden City Chetty Restaurant : There are two branches ot this restaurant, very close to each other a little to the north of the Sule Paya. Packed day and night, these two white-tiled Indian extravagan/as offer some of central Yangon's finest spice and rice meals. The speedy turnover of food ensures that everything is fresh and hygienic, as well as very tasty. It's one of the few city-centre Indian places open alter 7pm.
Ashoka Indian Restaurant : The creamy curries of north India are the main event here and they are an event worth getting seriously worked up about. The portions are small but that justifies ordering several courses including piping hot breads and filling samosas. The colonial villa the restaurant is housed in is as gorgeous as the food. The service is formal and attentive.
Yakiniku Japanese Barbeque : A fun Japanese restaurant where the tables open up to reveal that favourite of men the world over - a barbecue! Yes, the chefs have it easy here because you cook your own meat and so, it you're a woman and want to eat something vaguely edible then it's best to go without a man! The menu is full of pictures of what your dinner should, but probably won't, end up looking like.
Funisato Japanese Restaurant :Furusato, a traditional Japanese restaurant (no shoes, floor seating), enjoys a stellar reputation because of its high-quality sushi and sashimi. The hotpot and barbecue dishes are also excellent and the wood-panelled building itself is lovely.
Japan Japan :A kitschy-decorated, hut strangely cool, new Japanese restaurant with Japanese staff who like to make a fuss over you. The food is cheap, tilling and mouth-watering with some superb sushi. We've had a number of raving reports from travellers over this place.
Ichiban-Kan : An intimate and tasteful restaurant, which seems to have been lifted straight from the backstreets of the Tokyo of yesteryear. It's a perfect sp,of for couples wishing to indulge in a little romantic smooching over dinner. The food is as well presented and created as the decor, and the small menu focuses on soup and noodle dishes.
Lavender Food and Drink (: Slick and modern restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere and a tasty range of Korean and Japanese dishes. If you don't want a meal then the inexhaustible range of milk shakes and yoghurt drinks (K1400) might tempt.
World Cup : This rare Korean restaurant is a little hard to find (it's diagonally opposite the Savoy Hotel), and is located inside a family home. You eat in the front room, which gives it a laid-back family vibe, but bring a friend or you'll feel a bit lonely and it's best to call ahead just to check it's open.
Le Planteur : Widely considered the best restaurant in Yangon and with meal prices to match its exalted reputation. A list of just a few of the delicacies that will whet the appetite ot foodies: chowder of Japanese scallops with black truffles and Myanmar white beans, and locally caught filet of parrot fish. Book ahead and dress sharp.
Cafe Dibar : An unassuming and romantic restaurant heavy with Mediterranean senses. The food, which is Italian through and through, is well priced and comes with all the olives attached in just the right places. The beef lasagne (K4500) is superb and the staff normally chuck in a free antipasto as well. It has a comprehensive wine list (Italian and local) and is popular at lunch and dinner with well-to-do locals. If you've been on the road a while this is exactly what you're looking for.
Cia Pizzeria Italiana: Small and simple Italian restaurant without any unnecessary fuss, and with passable imitations of Rome's finest, including spaghetti with seafood and a decent selection of pizzas. The Myanmar chef has been trained by an Italian.
L'Opera Restaurant : One of the better and more elegant restaurants in Yangon, L'Opera boasts well-trained and smartly dressed waiters, but more important is the Italian owner and chefs meticulous preparation. The outdoor garden seating is a bonus in good weather. Lunch is cheaper than the dinner service, but on Fridays there is a $15 all-you-can-eat-and-drink special.
Yangon's numerous teashops are not just places to have cups of milk tea and coffee or tiny pots of Chinese tea. They are great places for cheap Burmese, Chinese and Indian snacks. For breakfast, in fact, you're often better off spending a few kyat in a teashop, rather than eating the boring toast, egg and instant-coffee breakfasts provided by many hotels and guesthouses. As well as serving food and drink, teashops are a social institution where gossip is passed around, deals made and, if you believe the rumours, government spies are rampant. There are so many teashops in the city that in parts (such as central Yangon) they virtually merge with one another to create a single, huge multicoloured teashop. Just park your bottom on any spare doll's-house-sized plastic chair and get into the spirit of things.
Sei Taing Kya Teashop :This is the most famous tea-tip pling spot in Yangon. It has six branches but this one is the most happening. It serves top-quality tea, samosas, palata, mohinga (rice noodles with chicken or fish and eggs) and ei-kya-kwe (deep-fried pastries). A branch east of the city centre is at 103 Anawrahta Rd, on the corner of 51st St. There's another just south of the Theinbyu Playground and by Kandawgyi, on Them Byu Rd.
Yatha Teashop :Mahabandoola Rd has a couple of more modest establishments that typify the general division between Chinese- and Indian-influenced teashops. This place, between Seikkan Thar and 39th Sts, represents the latter, providing fresh samosas and palata.
The Golden Dragon Teashop : and Lucky Seven Teashop :are lively teashops serving good snacks and are in the vicinity ot several mid-range guesthouses east of the city centre.
Lit up like Times Square, little makeshift grills and small plastic tables line 19th St between Mahabandoola and Anawrahta Rds in Chinatown. To order, point to what you want - a selection of meat and fish skewers (K300) or artichokes and bean curd. It's a bit of a men's club, though there's no reason to think women aren't welcome. Another good Indian stall, selling good barbecued fish, is nearby on Latha St, just south of Mnhahandoola Rd, next to Vilas Beauty Salon. Snack places for dessert are around the corner on Mahabandoola Rd.
The noodle stalls on 32nd St, near the Sule Paya, are very cheap and very good. Food stalls serving curries and rice - for experienced stomachs only - can be found along the eastern side of Bo Galay Zay St (east of Sule Paya).
It you're seeking more of a cafe-style atmosphere
Sharke’s : More of a shop than a restaurant, but whatever it is there's no denying its popularity with the expat community. It sells locally made cheese, yoghurt, pizzas (part cooked - you need your own oven to finish them off), pesto, olives and sundried tomatoes, as well as home grown rocket and other vegetables and fresh herbs.
Ginza Pan Food Center :The Ginza Pan, across from Aung San Stadium, is a pop place for well-to-do local teenagers who can't decide if they are feeling Italian, Japanese or Chinese today. As it happens it does all of the above adequately.
Tokyo Fried Chicken :There are several outlets of TFC, Yangon's very own version of RFC. One is just north of Mahabandoola Rd and the other is across the street from Bogyoke Aung San Market.
J' Donuts :is just south of Bogyoke Aung San Rd and there is another branch on Pansodan St between Mahabandoola and Anawrahta Rds.
Apart from the following listed bars and cafes, Yangon abounds in teashops, where milk tea or coffee, endless tiny pots of Chinese tea and cheap snacks are available. As these places are a good choice for breakfast, we have included them opposite.
Most of the city goes dark around 9pm. A lively expat scene rotates around the city during the week: Wednesday nights are for the Savoy (Captain's Bar), and Friday nights the Strand.
Strand Bar : Primarily an expat scene, this classic bar inside the Strand Hotel has any foreign liquors you may be craving behind its polished wooden bar. Occasionally there's someone around to play the baby grand. Friday afternoon and early evening is a two-for-one happy hour (there's a standard happy hour all other days from 5pm to 7pm). The bar is pleasantly relaxed and comfortable despite the price of the rooms above.
Mr Guitar Cafe : Hounded by famous Myanmar vocalist Nay Myo Say, this dark cafe-bar features live folk music from about 7pm to mid-nigtit nightly. Well-known local musicians drop by frequently to sit in with the regular house group. The clientele is a mix of locals and expats.
Frenz Bar & Grill : A sleek place, especially for Yangon, Frenz keeps the decor minimalist and, like trendy bars everywhere, risks style over substance. Live music, mostly covers, is on offer most nights.
50th Street Bar & Grill : Popular with locals and expats on Wednesday nights, when it has $5 pizzas to soften the drinking. Many people go straight from here to the Savoy.
British Club Bar : Think ambassadors sit around at night discussing world peace? Think again! Once A month the ever-so-prim British Club throws open its doors and discussion mores from world peace to beer consumption. F.xpats (of all nationalities) rate this as the social event of the month. Bring your passport.
Captain's Bar ; This bar at the Savoy is popular with locals and expats, especially on Wednesday and Friday nights, when there's live jazz.
Ginki Kids : This new, small and cosy bar is fast gaining a reputation on the expat circle as the coolest in Yangon.
Zawgyi's House : The city's hippest coffee shop is a hold display of what could be if the city was ever allowed out of its doldrums. It's a cafe/gift shop ensemble with a cool interior and shady terrace perfect for people watching. It's very much a hang-out for expats and passing businesspeople, all of whom appreciate the expensive shakes, juices, ice creams and sandwiches.
Ritz Cafe : Much more informal than the name implies, this trendy cafe is for the young or young at heart. It has a wide range ot Asian favourites, a dozen or more coffees and juices and you can download some Western treats including - wait for it - a full English breakfast (K1800)! It has a cool decoration theme including beach-flavoured tables.
Cafe Aroma : The Starbucks of Yangon, this cafe has several outlets around the city. The Sule Paya Rd branch, next to the cinema, is the most central, and offers fine, freshly brewed coffee and fruit smoothies (from about K500) in a stylish setting. Pasla and pizza dishes are also available for K800 to K1400. Other Cafe Aroma outlets are at the Yuzana Plaza, just east of Kandawgyi, and at the La Pyat Wun Shopping Centre (opposite).
Parisian Cake & Cafe : It certainly ain't as chic as a cafe in its namesake city, but it's cool, relaxing anil has an arm-length list of teas and coffees, as well as cold juices and shakes, a variety of cakes and light pasta lunches. There is another branch in the heart of Chinatown at 778 Mahabandoola St .
Mr Brown Cafe : Another place to get a break trom the heat, sip a cold drink and chow down on a cake.
Nightlife and Yangon aren't usually used in the same sentence. The main form of local recreation is hanging out in teashops or 'cold drink' shops. While Bangkok makes an evening in Yangon seem quaint and provincial, entertainment can be found tor those who are keen.
On festival days : local bands occasionally organise live outdoor concerts. During the water festival in April, si/able rock-music shows are set up along Inya Rd and University Ave Rd, and feature local underground rockers.
The Yangon government revived the performance of Myanmar classical dance drama at the National Theatre, a government-sponsored facility, northwest of Bogyoke Aung San Market.
There are a couple uf large, banquet-style res taurants with lloorshows in Yangon. Heavily used by the visiting business community, these dining spots are typically Chinese owned and feature extensive Chinese menus plus a few Burmese dishes. Entertainment is provided by bands that perform a mixture of local, Western and Chinese pop songs. Some places also feature Myanmar classical dance and/or marionette theatre.
LakeView Theatre Restaurant : Attached to the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, the entertaining show includes 10 traditional Burmese dances; one involves a woman bal-ancing on one foot on a chair while juggling a cane ball. It all kicks off at 7pm.
Yagon's own interpretation of club culture in-volves competitive fashion shows and mostly listless groups of men sipping bottles of beer. Most clubs have a nominal cover charge that includes the first drink.
There are several rooftop dubs in Theingyi Zei Plaza, on Shwedagon Pagoda Rd in Chinatown. They tend to be open from early evening until late.
You might find yourself straining to hear the gentle lap of ocean waves at Zero Zone Rock Restaurant (, whose bamboo shelters seem more appropriate for a beach club than a Yangon rooftop. It's a very male kind of place and there are some even more male-only dives nearby (think Bangkok...). BMEEntertainment is a seedy-dive club close to the US embassy.
There's no better city for Myanmar cinephiles than Yangon. By a conservative estimate there are over 50 theatres, a half-dozen or so found along Bogyoke Aung San Rd, east of the Sule Paya. Tickets are KXOO or less per seat. Critically acclaimed films are in short supply; rather there is a succession of syrupy Myanmar dramas, Bollywood musicals, kung-fu smash-ups, plus a few Hollywood blockbusters.
Nay Pyi Daw Cinema :This cinema across from Traders Hotel and next to Cafe Aroma has showings throughout the day. It's one ot the busiest cinemas in the city.
Thamada Cinema : Easily the best cinema for foreigners, it is comfortable and shows fairly recent international (including American) films.
American Center : This American-sponsored centre shows free American movies at noon every Monday.
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