LinkAge Restaurant and Art Gallery operates as a self-financing program run by local NGO Forever Humanitarian and Development Projects, to provide vocational training for street children in Yangon. Since August 2011 kids have been given cooking training, and the restaurant opened about two months ago.
This sounds great, but first you have to find the place, which can be complicated. It’s located on the upper block of Mahabandoola Garden Street, but the sign is on the first floor rather than street level, so you have to crane your neck a bit as you search.
Once you climb the stairs you’ll find yourself in a small but very pleasant dining area with five or six tables. The orange walls are hung salon-style with paintings by local artists, all of which are for sale. There’s also a balcony, just big enough for a single small table, overlooking the street.
The menu included Myanmar, Chinese and European choices. We ordered Myanmar-style mutton curry (K2500), the tender meat cooked in a delicious, savoury brown gravy; grilled eggplant salad (K1000), which had a pleasant smoky flavour and plenty of fresh onions; and red snapper fish fillet with steamed vegetables (K3000), prepared with a tangy, relish-like sauce.
The food, without exception, was excellent, particularly considering the very reasonable prices. Our bill for three mains, rice, two drinks and two freshly brewed coffees came to less than K10,000.
There were some weak links in the service. Many items on the drink menu were unavailable, we had to re-order one or two items before they were actually delivered to our table. Still, the young waiters were super-friendly without being overbearing, and they were obviously very keen to keep us happy.
Overall, considering the great atmosphere, tasty food and good value, it would not be surprising, in the coming months, to hear increasing numbers of locals and expats name LinkAge Restaurant and Art Gallery as one of their favourite places to eat in Yangon.