This month we welcome Union Bar’s Reuben Gould as our guest chef. As the man behind popular restaurants Gekko and Parami Pizza as well as Union, the AA Rosetted chef originally hails from London and is well known in Yangon for his contemporary British dishes. Gould’s passion for cooking has taken him around the world, including a stint in Azerbaijan where he spent four years working for the country’s president and his daughter. He credits his grandmother’s casseroles, lamb and pickled fish with getting him interested in cooking, though he says it was his uncle, a celebrated chef in New Zealand, who gave him the final push he needed. “He told me to either join the army or be a chef,” he said.
While expats bemoan the scourge of capitalism and inevitable decline of humanity that will follow the arrival of KFC this week, they have failed to notice a much greater menace facing the future of Yangon’s restaurant scene: the hipsterfication of food.
Now that the weather has turned cool, the thoughts of some of us turn to the joys of hot and spicy food. For me, that meant Sichuan Dou Hua, a Chinese traditional restaurant on the first floor of Yangon’s Parkroyal Hotel. It offers the daily dishes of Sichuan Province in southwestern China, which is as cool and damp as its food is hot and spicy.
With the exception of a growing number of “exotic” street vendors – who caused outrage recently when it was discovered they were serving dog meat to labourers on a nearby construction site – Vietnamese food has yet to take off in the city. That could be about to change, however, with a trickle of new Vietnamese restaurant openings doing a roaring trade – particularly among expats thankful for their fresh, healthy offerings and minimal use of oil.