A heritage row in the former Burmese capital gives us food envy

Jul 2, 2019

Lined with crumbling fin-de-siècle buildings, Rangoon’s Pansodan Road transports visitors back to the former capital’s colonial yesteryears. But now, on-trend restaurants are breathing new life into the heritage edifices that once housed government offices and banks. Take a stroll down the avenue’s imperfect pavement, where you’ll also pass by stalls selling secondhand books and women carrying baskets of fruit on their heads, to these spots that have made Pansodan the city’s celebrated culinary hub. — Veronica Inveen

1. The Pansodan

At stylish The Pansodan. Courtesy of The Pandsodan.

From its chevron marble flooring to the glimmering gold leaf–capped ceiling, this new buzz-worthy restaurant is a journey to a bygone age. Dressed as an old colonial brasserie, the Pansodan serves traditional Burmese dishes with a European flair—think mutton bone marrow and Burmese pâté. Some of Rangoon’s most creative culinary minds are behind the menu: the place was founded by Pun + Projects, the same team responsible for cool haunts like drinking house Port Autonomy (portautonomy.com; mains from K14,000) and pub-grub eatery 50th Street (50thstreetyangon.com; mains from K10,000). thepansodan.com; mains from K11,000.

2. Café Deja Brew

Café Deja Brew in a cup. Courtesy of Café Deja Brew.

This humble little shop only uses Burmese coffee beans, which is increasingly rare around the city. Here, you can count on a solid latte, but don’t be afraid to opt for specialties like the sunkist-presso, a refreshing concoction with fresh orange juice and espresso. fb.com/cafedejabrew.mm.

3. Gekko

Cocktail hour at Gekko. Courtesy of Gekko.

In Japanese, gekko means “moonshine,” but don’t fret, the drink menu at this Nippon-focused diner sticks to high-end bottles of sake and Japanese whisky, plus cocktail recipes from the mixologists at Singapore’s 28
HongKong street. It all pairs well with charcoal-fired yakitori or crunchy bites of gyoza, but the restaurant, which is housed in a grandiose building built in 1906, also offers a few worthy Korean and Vietnamese dishes. gekkoyangon.com; mains from K12,000.

4. Rangoon Tea House

A pour at Rangoon Tea House. Courtesy of Rangoon Tea House.

A hipster spin-off of a traditional Burmese teahouse, this eatery draws as many locals as expats. With a white-tiled coffee bar, leather couches, and walls that feature black-and-white photos from Rangoon’s past, the upscale-cozy surrounds complement a diverse menu spanning Burmese favorites like mohinga noodle soup and lahpet thoke (tea leaf salad), and fancified bao bun sandwiches and chicken-tandoori wraps. fb.com/rangoonteahouse; mains from K9,500.

5. Sofaer and Co

Chicken roti at Sofaer and Co. Courtesy of Sofaer and Co.

The cobalt-blue façade of this hip spot is hard to miss, but go for the eclectic Southeast Asian bites. Here, burgers range from soft-shell crab with papaya salad to chicken katsu with morning glory. More traditional plates include Vietnamese bun cha and Burmese banana blossom salad. fb.com/sofaerandco; mains from K9,500.

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