Jing Hpaw Myay
DEAR readers, your brave reporter is aware that he has geographical biases in his reporting. He’s a midtown fellow through and through and a firm believer in old-town aesthetics and staying within a short taxi ride of the action. While erudite, tasteful and handsome, your reviewer is still a reporter and so, as they say, not exactly ‘rolling in it’. Inya Lake holds some few promising locations that we may together explore one day but, at least for the time being, we’re sticking with local favourites where you can stand out the front and lay eyes on Shwedagon pagoda.
This week, it’s an old favourite going way back – it’s Jing Hpaw Myay Kachin on Kyun Taw. This smart little family establishment has been feeding locals and expats alike for many years and, broadly speaking, satisfying everyone. It’s an eatery your reporter has been to many times, as well as most people he knows. Sanchaung maybe have been Frenchified in recent years but that’s no reason to avoid going. Kachin cuisine ranks pretty high with this food reviewer on the Myanmar selections (note, it’s not a hierarchy) and when this reporter needs a fix, this is the place he goes. Let’s talk about what’s on the menu.
During this outing your reporter ordered the classic mashed potatoes, a mixed vegetable soup, spicy pennywort ginger salad and the boneless chicken curry.
To start with the chicken curry, it’s a classic and very simple mustard-based curry, as most Kachin curries are, served quite moist, tossed through with a little greenery for flavour but otherwise minced and unadorned. This dish probably won’t wow any newcomers but for simple flavour, it carries its own and also mixes well with other platters. It’s peppery and, well, it tastes like mustard, the pleasantness of which will depend on your palate. This reporter finds it to be simple and comforting.
It went especially well with the mash potato, which is a restaurant classic. Kachin mash potato is made with oil instead of butter, which doesn’t affect the flavour too much but leaves the texture firmer and more ‘raw’ looking. It’s very well salted and loaded with tasty garlic, it’s primary flavour. It is then sprinkled with fried shallot flakes. This dish is an absolute favourite and goes well with just about anything else on the menu.
When the soup arrived, your reported noted that it had lots of pepper in it but otherwise looked simple. It is simple, we could generously call it a very healthy option. There is some spinach, greens and carrot in a thin salty broth. The vegetables were actually pretty satisfying but there was really no way of getting around the fact that the vegetable soup is leaves in hot salty water. At least it felt good to eat it.
On to the pennywort and ginger salad, which was relatively fresh and well presented, but in this writer’s opinion, was moderately good. In fact, a little too much on the grassy side. If you, dear reader, are tempted to visit, the salad that comes firmly recommended is the French green bean (or long bean) salad, which is green beans steamed, served with a tasty creamy sauce punctuated with more fried shallot, garlic and mustard.
If one other dish could be recommended, it would be the beef tornado – an odd little dish of semi-dried beef, shredded, served oily on bamboo leaves with raw garlic. It’s punchy and salty as hell, if you like that flavour, and goes excellently with plain white rice. On the rice front, Jing Hpaw Myay offers Kachin fried rice and a couple of other pleasing ethnic renditions.
When you’re done eating, which may take a while due to the small kitchen and occasionally surly staff, take yourself over the road to the roof of the Vista hotel and enjoy the stunning views and affordable drinks of Tony’s Love Shack bar. Tony himself will likely be there, and he loves a chat. There’s often a good vibe to be found there and then you too, irritated bougie reader from Yankin, may fall in love with the local creature comforts of midtown.
The irresistable mash.
The beef tornado.
Their private dining room.