We go back to Shan Yoe Yar for lunch on our second last day. Well I had to. To make sure the first impressions after a 14 hour flight were correct! And most importantly my main mission is to discover new dishes and to promote Burmese food and Burma as a beautiful destination to be discovered! This place has so much yet to be unocovered….
When we arrive. they allow us into the ‘nerve centre’ of operations for only a brief moment though (the recipes and cooking techniques are a fiercely guarded secret). We film part of the cooking process for their speciality dish, a ‘seafood omelette surprise’.
Chef U Shwe Toe is a genius. He whips up the dish in no time and it looks like he’s been doing this all his life.
Afterwards we sit down for lunch and as well as the signature dish, I order several other dishes off the menu which look interesting and unusual to me.
As a consolation for not being allowed into the kitchen, the lovely sales and marketing manager, Sumeko sits down with us and explains the dishes very comprehensively and eloquently. (incidentally her Aunty lives in Manchester!
So the signature dish arrives which does not look like an omelette I recognise! It’s more like a souffle. I now understand why the chef would not allow us to see the technique how it is made. A large golden fluffy round pie. At least risen by 2 inches. The waiter ceremoniously makes two cuts crossways in the middle, then pours the juicy seafood and mixed vegetables into the centre. The juices ooze and soaks into the omelette. We all oohed and ahhed expecting the whole thing to implode but impressively it remained firmly upright.
Then came the best name for a dish I have ever heard, n’ga dokh kihte (I may have the phonetical spelling a little incorrect here!), meaning fish in trouble! Aptly named, I guess the poor fish may have foreseen his misfortune as it was winched out the water. I, on the other hand, am less troubled when I think it probably had other thoughts, after six seconds! (or is that just applicable to goldfish??) Anyway, that’s my hope!
This troubling named dish is quite fabulous! It has been split open stuffed with fresh Shan herbs, neatly re-tied with bamboo strips and deep fried. Crispy edible skin, an explosion of fresh herbs and sweet soft flesh in one mouthful. Perfectly cooked.
Then came another delicious dish. All food I have not tasted before. This time it was a mushroom dish, finely diced mushrooms, garlic, herbs, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. So meaty and full of umami you would not have known it had no meat in it. On the side, slivers of raw garlic, dried chilli roasted paste and leek roots. So good!
Of course, I also asked for the amaaaazing fermented mustard green, diced pork and herb melange, wrapped in silky, fatty thin slices of pork belly, which melted in your mouth. A rich yet piquant taste sensation like no other. (the dish we had eaten on my first night of arrival in Rangoon. The ingredients which I could not decipher then). I asked about the delectable sticky sauce which enveloped the whole dish and made it complete. Needless to say Sumeko was not parting with the exact components. Despite the several subterfuge attempts deployed to trick her into spilling the beans, no luck! Clearly we have not been the first. Well done Ms Sumeko Oo, for keeping your lips stummed! I was most impressed.
Their recipes are a closely guarded secret! I too would be the same. And with the competition emerging in recent years with other great restaurants, more so than ever to keep that recipe secret and unique.
As is de rigeur, at the end of every filming we sit down together with the film crew to feast on all the amazing dishes cooked for us….
The food was accompanied by a refreshing drink called san cho yay (fermented rice water). Very welcome on another hot and sticky day. The rains have not yet fallen in Rangoon and it seems to be late. Humidity is high. I think it must be looming and imminent…….
If you are in Rangoon you should check out this place as it’s a comfortable setting with a wide selection of Shan dishes to try and the guys are super friendly (like everyone else in Burma, so no different there!), who can explain the dishes to you.
Let me know if you go and what you think about it. I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Shan Yoe Yar Restaurant at 169, Wa Dan Street, Lanmadaw, Yangon. Yangon Region; Lanmadaw Township, 11131.