Excellent spot to sample a delicious range of authentic Kachin dishes, even if consistency isn’t always guaranteed.
Another day, another great Kachin restaurant.
We’ve just reviewed Agape Kachin Food Channel, also in Sanchaung Township. But Jing Hpaw Myay is a completely different dining experience.
Agape works well for solitary diners, allowing you to savour individual bowls of delectable spicy beef noodles. Others are also welcome to join, providing they get their own bowl of noodles. Because sharing just means less noodles, a painful experience for all.
On the other hand, dining at Jing Hpaw Myay favours large groups. This affords the opportunity to sample as many dishes as your stomachs can bear.
What should you order?
There are some classic stalwarts on the menu, so here are some of our favourites. Note: the menu has recently changed, but it seems mostly in appearance than content.
Among the top is the dish formerly known as ‘beef tornado’ (now relegated to the boring moniker of ‘beef tenderloin’). Thin strips of shredded tenderloin are dressed in a zingy marinade of lime, chilli, garlic and herbs, and arranged in a presumably tornado-like fashion.
Also excellent are the Kachin-style curries, offered with chicken, pork or beef. The pork is our preferred option, in the form of chunks of pork belly. However, the pork has ranged from deliciously tender to slightly dry across our numerous visits. The beef is minced and more reliable, but pales slightly in comparison to the beef curry at Agape.
However, our personal favorite is the beef tongue.
If you’re a bit squeamish reading this, you’re not alone. We’ve lost count of the number of slightly disgusted faces dining companions have made upon hearing our suggestion.
But if you’re wary of eating beef tongue, we have to be straight with you. You’re going to have to get over it. (Except of course if you’re vegetarian or abstain from beef for religious or health reasons…)
Because you’re missing out.
Tongue can be an extremely tender cut with none of the unexpected texture or taste of other unpopular cuts of meat, like liver or sweetbreads. Except for the image conjured in your mind, there’s nothing legitimately off putting about this piece of meat.
At Jing Hpaw Myay the beef tongue is served in thin slices, lightly grilled and dusted with spices and coriander. It’s accompanied by a lime, coriander and chili dressing so good it should be bottled and sold nationwide. At its best, the tongue is outstanding – smoky from the grill, zingy from the dressing and equally tender and chewy.
The only problem is the cooking of the beef tongue can be a bit unreliable. Occasionally, some pieces are sliced so thin they’ve tipped over to chewy and slightly dry during the cooking process. But dunked in the dressing even these bites are pretty tasty.
But there’s much more to the menu than just meat.
For example, the grilled eggplant salad is a major heavy hitter at Jing Hpaw Myay.
If you’re into baba ganoush this will be love at first bite. The smokiness of the grilled eggplant/aubergine combined with heady umami flavour of soy beans have made it an instant favourite of numerous vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Other notable vegetarian options include the mashed potatoes (super smooth and more gelatinous than the typical western mash); rainforest salad (though often unavailable!); spinach salad; and the omelettes (the mountain mushroom one being our favourite, though the okra or cauliflower omelettes are also good).
Not all dishes are universally satisfying though. The pounded ginger – highly recommended by a friend – tasted medicinal with an astringent undertone. Dishes with bamboo require a firm love of the ingredient which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have been a surprise to us.
The dining experience
First off, if it’s not already clear, we’re pretty firm regulars at Jing Hpaw Myay.
That said, there are number of eccentricities about the spot that are either quaintly charming or frustrating, depending on your temperament.
Dishes are delivered as and when they are ready, which doesn’t bother us in the slightest. A tad more inconvenient is when dishes don’t arrive, either because the ingredients are not available or they got lost somewhere in the communication chain.
Some menu items aren’t always available, which optimistically means there’s a strong focus on fresh, seasonal produce. But it can be a slight disappointment if you’ve been daydreaming about it for two days.
And then, as mentioned earlier, the quality of the cooking varies from visit to visit. Sometimes we’ve declared it the our favourite Kachin (or even Myanmar) restaurant in town, other times not so much.
That said, it’s never dipped below ‘pretty good’, so we continue to be open to the inconsistency, especially when you stumble into an outstanding visit. To top it off the people working at Jing Hpaw Myay are lovely, there’s aircon and good seating, plus a ‘VIP’ room at the back for large groups.
Jing Hpaw Myay Kachin Restaurant
Price: 5,000 – 10,000 MMK per person
Must orders: Beef tongue, beef tenderloin/tornado, eggplant salad
Good for: Big groups. Or little groups. All groups.
Address: Kyun Taw Road, close to Bagaya Street, Sanchaung Township, Yangon