Tucked away in a lane in Gongguan (公館) close to the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Xinsheng South Road, Yangon (仰光滇緬料理) serves up delicious Burmese-style food with Thai and Yunnan influences. Owner Tsun Dai-hua (寸待華) came to Taiwan more than 30 years ago to study Chinese and liked the country so much that after a stint slicing and dicing at restaurants in Japan, he returned to Taiwan and opened up his restaurant 18 years ago. His family, which hails from Yunnan, fled to Myanmar following the Chinese Civil War.
I’ve eaten at Yangon several times over the years and have never been disappointed by its fresh and spicy food, excellent service and warm interior of terra-cotta tiled floors and dark wood tables. But it’s the restaurant’s fusion of flavors and textures that make it stand out.
Take Yangon’s seafood salad (NT$280), for example, which is more Thai than Burmese, yet doesn’t suffer as a result. Ample portions of cuttlefish, clams and shrimp are mixed with a moderate amount of tomato, onion, cucumber and chopped basil. Served with a tangy homemade chili sauce, the seafood is prepared in such a way as to bring out its different textures — firm slices of the cuttlefish contrasting nicely with the soft shrimp and chewy clams.
From firm and soft to moist and crunchy, one bite of the deep-fried chicken with spicy sauce (NT$250) and you’ll understand why it ranks as one of Yangon’s most popular dishes. Not too greasy nor too oily, the chicken breast was juicy on the inside, and crispy outside. Resting on a bed of sliced cabbage and drizzled with a spicy sauce made from cilantro, garlic, ginger, chili and lime, it disappeared from the plate very quickly.
Address: 1, Ln 284, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路三段284巷1號)
Telephone: 02) 2369-1821
Open: Daily from 11:30am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm
Average meal: NT$800 for two, NT$120 for lunch special
Details:Credit cards not accepted, English and Chinese menu, 10 percent service charge
Though it might not be the prettiest dish you’ve ever seen, the flavor of the stir-fried pork (NT$220, NT$230 for chicken, NT$250 for beef) with chili paste more than makes up for its lack of aesthetic appeal. The robust chili taste is tempered by slightly acidic tomato and sweet basil. On previous visits, I’ve tried the steamed lemon perch (NT$380), which was delightfully sour, and fried chicken in coconut cream (NT$230), which I found somewhat oily and rather tasteless — the only disappointing dish I’ve ever had at the restaurant.
Yangon has four lunch specials (NT$120), which include deep-fried chicken with spicy sauce, stir-fried beef in chili paste, fried pork with bamboo shoot and Yunnan-style stir-fried pork with homemade pickles. Lunch specials come with rice, two vegetable dishes, soup and dessert. And for those of you who want to try Tsun’s recipes at home, be sure to pick up a copy of Let’s Eat Burmese Cuisine (來吃滇緬菜), his cookbook published by Kingstone (膳書房).