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3 Spots for Small Plates in Rangoon

March 10, 2015

Three restaurants in Rangoon perfect small plating. Story and photos by Fiona McGregor.

Published on Mar 10, 2015


Dinner in Rangoon is an evolving affair. In the wake of Burma's entering the global stage, its former capital fast has become a center of networking. Workdays spill into social evenings and quick bites progress into long nights out on the town. This flexible flow has inspired the opening of three restaurants that offer small-dish dining, to easily scale from a snack to a full meal, depending on where the evening takes you.

1. Gekko (535 Merchant St.;, a Japanesestyle eatery, offers a range of small plates, and draws an equally varied clientele. "We get a really nice mixture of people here: Burmese, Western, Japanese, locals, expats and tourists," says owner Nico Elliott. Based in the Sofaer & Co. building, which dates back to 1906, it retains its original colonial merchant's exterior. Inside it is an interesting marriage of Far East and Middle East—black and white shots of Tokyo hang above mosaic tiles, made more exotic with bamboo light fittings and oversized fans. The food focuses on a yakitoriinfluenced selection of skewered and grilled bites, while the cocktail list stars fusions like the Hanami Old Fashioned, a concoction that includes Japanese whisky, hanami tea syrup and bitters.

The Gekko bar counter where yakitori-influenced magic happens.

2. The Lab (70A Shwegondaing Rd.; tapas bar is also luring locals and foreigners in droves with its diminutive dishes. Cozy yet airy with brick walls and high tables, it has a casual vibe that has made it an instant favorite. Mediterranean tapas and Middle Eastern staples like hummus are offered alongside Tex Mex classics like nachos and quesadillas. Though there's plenty on offer, the menu is not overwhelming and the owners are often around to make recommendations.

The Lab, Rangoon
Tex Mex in a cozy setting at The Lab.

3. In the heart of Rangoon, Phayre's Gastronomy (292 Pansodan St.; whets the city's appetite for savory snacks, while tapping into the country's colonial heritage. Named after the first Commissioner of British Burma, Sir Arthur Purves Phayre, this eatery is inexpensive but still stylish. It's cool location, next to the Pansodan art gallery, paired with its finger food like sandwiches and chicken wings, is proving popular with the city's media-types, as well as tourists visiting the nearby Sule Pagoda.

Phayre's Gastronomy
Outside Phayre's Gastronomy.

Like the dishes, Rangoon's culinary scene may still be on the small side, but it will still satisfy anyone hungry for a great night out.


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Phayre's Gastronomy, Rangoon
  • Gekko, Rangoon
  • Gekko, Rangoon
  • The Lab, Rangoon
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