Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Strand Cafe, Yangon

Located in the heart of downtown Yangon, Strand Hotel is a charming reminder of a bygone era that was elegant, relaxed and comfortable. The Strand Cafe located inside this old British colonial hotel is the perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon spent sipping tea or coffee while sampling a delicious array of bite-sized Burmese delicacies elegantly served in black lacquer tiffin. This is the best place to be if you want to escape the heat and bustle of Yangon.

The Strand or Strand Hotel was acquired by the Sarkies brothers, who also owned the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It was in 1901 that Strand Hotel was opened to the public and it soon became one of the most luxurious hotels during the British colonial era. At present it is the only hotel left in Yangon of this period.

High Tea at The Strand Cafe is a must. They have two sets of menus, you can choose to have Classic (English) or Myanmar high teas. We'd rather tickle our taste buds and try something uniquely Burmese so we decided on the Myanmar High Tea Menu.

A taste of Burma in an old British colonial atmosphere.
Semolina Cake
Myanmar Wonton Stuffed with Rakhine Shrimps
Deep Fried Sticky Rice Balls Stuffed with Brown Bean Paste

Ginger-Infused Chocolate Bon Bons
Seasonal Fruit Jelly

Tea Leaf Salad (Laphet)

Deep Fried Banana
Seasonal Mushroom Tempura

Sago and Coconut Milk with Palm Sugar
Mutton Puff

Beautifully patterned British Colonial wallpaper featuring palm trees, elephants and pagodas.

The lobby 
Black and white photos around the walls show the heritage listed Strand Hotel throughout the years.  

The Strand Hotel maintaining its grandeur as a true historic and architectural landmark.

The Strand Cafe (Strand Hotel)
92 Strand Rd, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Monday, 23 October 2017

Yangon Street Food & Rangoon Tea House- Yangon, Myanmar (Part 3)

Exploring street food is an important part of my travel experience. Downtown Yangon is one of the best places to discover and enjoy authentic tastes of Burmese cuisine. Its street food scene will surely leave one drooling over all the mouth-watering local street specialties. However, one has to be careful when opting for street food. Here are some of my tips for enjoying street food without getting sick. 
*Observe the vendor’s hygiene.
*Eat well cooked food and cooked in front of you. Always hot and avoid cold.
*Beware of ice, fruits shakes and drinks no matter how tempting. Stick to sealed water bottles. 

*Avoid salads, skinless fruits and sauces. 
*Common sense is your friend.

I noticed all these stalls have low table settings. The locals seem to prefer sitting this way and I'm not sure how they find it comfortable. In the middle of every table is a plastic tissue holder with tissue roll and some condiments. A traditional Burmese meal includes a bowl of soup, steamed rice, several curries of fish, meat or poultry and dipping sauce with fresh vegetables for dipping.

Here are some of the Burmese dishes you need to try when in Myanmar.
*Mohinga- Burmese fish noodle soup, usually eaten at breakfast.
*Tea Leaf Salad- a healthy and unique salad also known as lephet thoke. This is a very versatile dish that can be served as a snack, appetiser or meal. 
*Shan-style Noodles- a simple rice noodle dish that originated from the Shan State of Myanmar. 
*Falooda- the most popular dessert in Myanmar especially during summer. It’s a mixture of rose syrup, jelly, basil seeds, sago or tapioca pearls, milk, ice-cream and bread pudding. 
*Gourd Fritter- also known as bhuti kyaw. It's a popular traditional snack in Myanmar and tastes extremely good. 
*Balachaung- a spicy condiment and popular accompaniment to Burmese dishes.

Located in downtown Yangon, Rangoon Tea House is inspired by the heritage and tradition of old Rangoon. This place is oozing with old colonial charm and popular with young trendy Burmese, expats and tourists. They serve traditional Burmese cuisine, Indian curries and biryanis as well as Burmese inspired cocktails. If you are a tea lover, you will definitely love this place because they let you choose exactly how you want your tea to be.

Black Tea

Spiced Pepper Squid
Burmese squid rings served with kaffir lime mayo. So delicious! All gone in seconds.

Duck Empanadas
3 pastries of duck meat shredded, sauteed onion, ground pepper and star anise. Served with spicy yoghurt sauce.

The last Tattooed Women of Burma, the tribe whose traditions are dying out.
I first learned of this when I saw my Burmese- Australian friend posted photos of these women when he visited Myanmar early this year. He then explained to me how these women had their faces covered in elaborate black patterns and some even in all-black. It was a custom that began when an ancient king tried to make slaves of the women. The tattoos were supposed to make them ugly and repel them from being chosen by the king but it eventually became a symbol of beauty. So popular it was that women who chose not to have it looked ugly to all men. However, times have changed and facial tattoos are now declared illegal.

Ground Floor, 77-79 Pansodan St, 
Between Mahabandoola and Merchant Rd. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

999 Shan Noodle Shop- Where To Go, What To See and Where To Eat in Yangon, Myanmar (Part 2)

If you are planning a trip to Myanmar, the best time to visit is between November to February when the weather is generally cooler and more pleasant. With sunny clear skies the weather in Yangon couldn't be better. The downtown area of Yangon is walkable and generally the best way to get around is on foot because traffic can be horrendous. We spent the day roaming the streets and markets taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this former capital.

Not far from Sule Pagoda is Maha Bandula Park and Yangon City Hall. 
  Make sure to take the time to admire the impressive colonial architecture in downtown Yangon. 
Sule Pagoda standing beautiful and grand in the midst of a busy street in Downtown Yangon.

 Located two blocks North of the park is the popular Bogyoke Aung San Market also known as Scott Market. This market is the largest and most vibrant in Yangon. A tourist attraction in itself, it is a must-see if you want to marvel the vast selection of traditional Burmese handicrafts. You can also find pretty much any local products here and with 1000 shops under a single roof, it can be pretty overwhelming. 

Everywhere I turned, the city was buzzing with life.

Some skewered meat and offal at a street food stall.

Dressy Burmese sandals.

The way locals commute.

A vendor shoulder carrying her stall in Downtown Yangon.

If you are travelling on a budget but still want to eat well then be sure to check out 999 Shan Noodle Shop.  It's a Burmese restaurant serving noodles from the Shan State region. We were so eager to try this place so we went there and battled for a table. The prices were unbelievably cheap, service very fast and staff was friendly. Dishes looked quite simple but boy, we were overwhelmed by how good and delicious they tasted.

Shan is the eastern most state of Myanmar bordering China, Thai and Laos.
Shan noodle is one of Myanmar's most famous dishes.

Spicy and sour roasted pork

He was the only wait staff upstairs but he can juggle several things at the same time and moves like a bullet. I cannot count the number of times he went running up and down the stairs with such incredible speed.


Shan noodle (oil flavour)

Shan Noodle Soup

Wheat Noodle (oil flavouring)

Pop-up street food vendors are everywhere in Yangon.

This is the famous 19th Street in Chinatown that comes alive after sunset.

This is the place to go for street food in Yangon where you can eat and drink the night away.

Eating, drinking and nightlife in Yangon's Chinatown where lined food stalls sell all kinds of local food and drinks.

Outdoor dining in Yangon.

999 Shan Noodle Shop
130b, 34th Street, Yangon

Bogyoke Aung San Market
Bogyoke Aung San Rd, Yangon

Sule Pagoda
Junction of Sule Pagoda Road, Yangon 

Maha Bandula Park
Maha Bandula Park St, Yangon