Promising new addition to the Yangon restaurant scene, serving up Burmese, Vietnamese and other pan-asian offerings
Pan-asian cuisine can represent food at its best, or at its worst. It’s far too often a sloppy label for ‘asian’-esque menus featuring dishes that fail to ring true to any cuisine but are sufficiently ‘exotic’ enough to tempt the palate of those who hail far from any Asian locale.
In the case of Sofaer & Co, there’s something decisively authentic about their frankly unorthodox menu that straddles Myanmar, the Mekong Delta, Japan, and beyond.
For example, on the menu are:
- Mini eclairs full to the brim with chicken liver parfait (a nod to French influences in Vietnamese cuisine?);
- ‘Grilled Mandalay tea leaf smoked pork neck’ with a sticky rice skewer;
- A ‘Burman scotch egg with teriyaki sauce’ (a British invention of minced meat wrapped around an egg, then deep fried, a.k.a. the most American dish America didn’t create);
- As well as bun cha (a Vietnamese noodle dish with grilled pork and herbs).
It all (mostly) makes sense at Sofaer & Co. It’s not as if food in Myanmar shares a singular origin – just take a look at any tea shop menu. And likewise, neither did Issac Sofaer, the restaurant’s namesake. He was a Jewish trader born in Baghdad and educated in Yangon, and commissioned the building that Sofaer & Co resides in during the early 20th century.
The renovated space celebrates the greatest gems in the heritage building: the original stunning mosaic tiles shipped from Manchester (also on show in neighbouring Gekko) – coupled with a bold vintage-inspired mural by a Hong Kong artist.
But back to the food
There are some excellent options. Standouts include:
- A nutty mango salad with tender grilled chicken and crispy chicken skin;
- Lovely mini eclairs filled with chicken liver parfait;
- Bite size morsels of Vietnamese summer rolls with unconventional, but still tasty, fillings;
- And triple cooked Shan potatoes with a spiced tomato sauce.
The afore mentioned ‘Burman Scotch egg with Sofaer teriyaki sauce’ was expertly fried and crispy on the outside, with a perfectly soft yolk within. That said, we struggled to see the Burmese influence, with the teriyaki sauce creating a more Japanese flavour profile than a Myanmar one. Nonetheless it was delicious, and we’ll be ordering it again.
There were mixed feelings were about the pork neck. With a delicious caramelised coating, the grilled slices of pork packed plenty of rich flavour. However, we found a few pieces on the tougher end of the spectrum.
The Burmese style chicken masala was delicious, but proved tricky to eat. Wrangling a bony chicken wing out of a curry sauce proved tricky without going hands-in, which didn’t seem appropriate for the upscale environment. Best skipped if you’re on a first date!
And for dessert?
Desserts were also in strong showing, with a delectably oozy molten chocolate lava cake, well-baked black tea madeleines and an indulgent sticky toffee pudding. On our first visit, the accompanying ice cream offerings were divisive. With fragrant tea and flower-infused flavours, they tasted “like soap”, according to our dining companions. Needless to say, on our second visit some of the ice creams had been switched up. Now, the wild honey and lemongrass ice cream is a clear standout.
With most dishes a modest size, a filling meal out at Sofaer & Co could easily set you back anywhere from 20 – 35,000 MMK per person. It’s also not terribly vegetarian friendly, though the kitchen can whip up a few decent options on request. But all that can be excused, with one bite of that lava cake or a couple of scotch eggs…
Sofaer & Co
Price: Approximately 10,000 MMK for mains or 20-35,000 MMK eating tapas style.
Must orders: Mango salad with grilled chicken, scotch egg, chocolate lava cake.
Good for: Something a little fancier in a heritage building, particularly for group dinners (top tip – grab the private upstairs room for that extra factor).
Address: 60 Pansodan Street, Lower Block, Kyauktada Township, Yangon.