In Focus

Regional Café & Bistro Bar

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By Marie Starr, Photo By Phyo Thiha

The first thing that strikes me when I walk into Regional Café and Bistro Bar is the design. The layout flows well from open plan to a raised, more intimate seating area to the private booths at the back of the restaurant. It caters to those here to meet a date, a business partner, or friends. The interiors are sophisticated on a level above many other new openings in Yangon – teak wood furniture, marble tiling and leather upholstery with playful lighting fixtures and a touch of traditional art. We meet Herry, an owner and the execute director of The Regional who drew on influences from his twelve years in Singapore for inspiration for the business which opened in August.

It is the first business to open in the new commercial complex located near the corner of Dhamazedi Road and Link Road.   “I think in a few months time, this place will be a busy business area. Currently, it’s a bit isolated but more shops and offices will come in a few months time and we have plenty of parking to attract customers,” says Herry. We peruse menu and I’m impressed by the fair prices – beef kofta is 5,500 Ks, tom yum soup with prawns is 4,000 Ks and Australian steak is 23,000 Ks.

Herry is excited to tell me about dishes of his own creation. His new take on pickled tea leaf is to team it with dried pounded mutton and the result is a delicious mouthful of familiar flavours in a new combination. The bayar hlaw served with dried chili flakes reminds me of falafel but a little more crunchy and it is one of those dishes that is made to be an accompaniment to a glass of beer. The spawn spaghetti packs a seafood punch and the pasta is well-cooked, though the European in me misses a tomato-based sauce. “I try to take traditional foods and make them into an exciting new signature dish.” Herry shows an astute sense of what his customers want – a comfortable and chic place to hang out where they can order favourite foods as well as fusion dishes and an exciting and comprehensive drinks menu. “My main target audience is local people who want to meet here for business but also who want to party late into the evening.” The strong point of The Regional is the drinks menu. Herry has put a lot of imagination and love into creating a menu of quality, exciting drinks. Inspired by the Starbucks concept which Herry enjoyed during his Singapore years, he was eager to include a variety of frappuccinos, matcha green tea and flavoured lattes for Yangonites to try out. Beer-lovers will be happy to know that three craft beers from Yangon’s own Burbrit Brewery are available on tap with a fourth to be added soon. However, it’s the cocktail menu that really catches my eye. Bold and daring names are given to new creations using high-quality liquors and all are fairly priced at 4-4,500 Ks. ‘Sex on the Jungle’ is an apparently potent cocktail of vodka, Bacardi, midori and blue curacao. I can’t resist ordering a ‘Donald Trump’ (4,500 Ks) which is actually served in flames – the glass is topped with half an orange filled with flaming whiskey! The best cocktail is the cocktail Herry has obviously put a lot of thought and experimentation into, the signature Regional cocktail priced affordably at 4,500 Ks. The strong minty flavour is light and fresh and really delicious. “It’s a very refreshing drink that’s perfect for the evening when you want to feel fresh. The secret is that you drink it and you don’t feel the alcohol at all but a few moments later it will hit you.” With live music every Saturday and Sunday night, favourite dishes and exciting drinks all set in a beautiful restaurant and at affordable prices, Regional is a fantastic addition to the Bahan, and indeed Yangon, restaurant scene.

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