Thursday, July 27, 2017

Phar Kant packs a punch

In every city there are those hidden gems – places that are so good you want to tell people, but are loathe to lest you find yourself unable to find a seat as a result of its newfound popularity. Phar Kant is one such place.

Kachin-style chicken served with fried tofu . Photo: StaffKachin-style chicken served with fried tofu . Photo: Staff

While Shan restaurants in downtown Yangon are a dime a dozen, Phar Kant stands out with its punchy flavours and friendly local vibe.  Located just near the intersection of Yaw Min Gyi Lan and Bo Yar Nyunt, in a nondescript open-front shop, it’s already a popular spot for locals and the area’s burgeoning expat population.

While its name conjures up images of the rugged hills of jade-rich Kachin state, the majority of the fare it offers up is of Shan origin.

As you wait for your main meal you’ll be brought a bowl of complimentary clear broth. The assortment of roots and shoots floating around in it doesn’t give much of a hint of its unique, sharp flavour.

The spicy tomato and coriander salsa by way of the Shan hills (also complimentary) is sent out with a plate of sliced cucumber – something you’ll be grateful for in order to neutralise the salsa’s chilli kick.

The fried tofu is an entree that will please all tastebuds and tide you over while you wait. It’s fried to perfection, never excessively greasy, and comes with – forgive the technical jargon – a vinegar-y dipping sauce.

The malahin, a spicy shan noodle dish, is not one to be missed. While other establishments might find themselves falling short with dulled flavours clinging to flaccid vegetables, Phar Kant is consistently  on point with crispy lotus root, a colourful array of fresh veggies and several types of noodles set off by a chilli sauce that’s packing just the right amount of heat and complexity.

The Kachin chicken is a zesty crowdpleaser but, like the malahin, is only one for those who can handle their chilli. Those with more cautious tastebuds are advised to try the cashew chicken.

There’s no shortage of options on the menu, with a wide variety of meat, egg and vegetarian dishes to explore but please – if you don’t mind, go at lunchtime. I don’t want to have to wait for a seat.