Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lakes and Strand Cruise!
Restaurants: Le Planteur or Seeds Restaurant & Lounge?
Before our trip to Yangon, I spent some time searching for the best restaurant for my wedding anniversary trip. Le Planteur and Seeds Restaurant & Lounge look equally appealing in the pictures. Both have garden seatings with a lake-view. So which one should I choose?
We went to Le Planteur on Dec 20, 2018. It is located near the Sedona Hotel. We were greeted by gracious staff at the door. Once we walked inside the restaurant, there are outdoor seating facing the lake. In fact, it actually has a terrace and the landscape was carefully maintained. From the outside looking back, the two-story French-style restaurant has a balcony, and the interior is beautifully decorated. The venue is suitable for event function. The French food was good, but not impressive. The staff presented us a chocolate cake and sang us a happy wedding anniversary song. Overall, good hospitality and ambiance.
Starter Homemade duck rillette with espelette and baguette toast
Main course: Hallibut "A la Plancha" with burnt broccolis OR
Slow cooked caramelised pork rib with crispy potato
Dessert: Cafe gourmand, i.e. Espresso coffee and sweet pastries
Cost: US$18 each
We went to Seeds Restaurant and Lounge on Dec 21, 2018. Similar to Le Planteur, the SEEDS also provices indoor and outdoor seating with s spectacular lake view. This time, we chose the indoor seating near the full size glass windows facing the lake. The interior is modern and stylish. The staff was gracious and quickly brought us to our table which had already decorated with rose petals. The food was carefully presented and the flavors were well balanced. Later the owner and chef came and greeted us. The highlight of our lunch: when the staff brought our wedding anniversary cake, the entire staff sang us a love song with an acoustic guitar. Very touching moment. Seeds definitely brings service to another level. After lunch, we walked outside. Apart from usual garden seating and wine bar, there was a huge bird nest on the tree. One may walk up the spiral stairs and enjoy a meal in the bird nest.
So, one day in Yangon, Le Planteur or Seeds Restaurant & Lounge? I would choose Seeds for lunch because of the view, the food and the service.
We luckily had the best table in the terrace of the restaurant overlooking the swimming pool with some paper lanterns decoration. We ordered yellowtail king fish tartar sashimi, which sprinkled with a dash of lime juice, decorated with Miso Creme, and served with green asparagus and rice crisp, as well as the Shwe Taung Khauk Swe, which was a soup with Golden Mountain noodles with shredded chicken mixed with coconut milk, quail eggs, and shallot, as the starters. We order the stir-fried tiger prawns in green curry paste with tomato, eggplant, shallot, garlic and coriander, as well as the Burmese lamb curry with potato, tomato, carrot, turmeric, cumin, and shallot for the main courses. The food was fresh and delicious, and the staff was friendly and attentive.
Due to its geographic location, Burmese cuisine has been influenced by Thai, Chinese, and Indian. It's the cooking melting pot.
Things to do in Yangon
Shwegagon Pagoda is a must-visit pagoda in Yangon. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar.
Tips: Don't forget to take off your shoes and socks when you visit a pagoda. Bring a plastic bag to store and carry your footwear so that you can easily take pictures inside.
Myanmar's tea room is perfect illustration for its cultural cuisine diversity. You can find Indian naan bread, Burmese food, Chinese steamed bun, sandwiches, toasts, etc. The first thing we do when we landed Mandalay is to visit Unique Mandalay Tea Room. We arrived before 10am, but it had already packed with people. We tried Mee Shay and Shan Kabul Swe. Mee Shay is a rice noodle salad served with chicken, chili bean sauce, bean sprouts, coriander accompanied by pickle and scallion soup. Shan Kwak Swe is Shan Starr's traditional thin flat rice noodles with marinated chicken served with a peppery broth. Two bowls of noodles and two coffee costed $10,000MMK (~US$6.5). Cheat good eats!
"MinGaLa Bar means "May you have an auspicious moment". The pronunciation is the nearest with Burmese tone.
When we arrived around 2:30 pm, many people were eating there already. We were greeted by the staff and quickly seated upstairs with A/C.
The menu was written in English, and had many vegetarian options. The price was reasonable (~7000 MMK for a main dish & ~2000MMK for fresh juice). We ordered the mutton curry and fresh dragon fruit juice. It came with soup, lots of side dishes (peanuts, mixed nuts, fermented tea leaves salad), strong beans, eggplant, bamboo shoots, mints, cucumber, carrots, potato salad, pickles, etc. Did I mention the complimentary dessert, too?
Overall, the food was good for the portion and price with friendly good English speaking staff. The restaurant was clean as there is a trash bin next to each table. Good Burmese cuisine experience.
I was told that Kuthodaw Pagoda contains the World's Largest Book, so I was super excited to check it out. After I walked around the entire place twice, I did not see any signage to locate the World's Largest Book. How could I even miss the largest book in the world? It turns out that the World's Largest Book was all around me. It consists of 729 large marble tablets separately stored in white kyauksa gu (stone inscription cave) and neatly arranged around the central golden pagoda. Instead of having one huge book, this design will affectively allow hundreds of monks to learn about the Buddha's teaching. Definitely a fascinating place to visit in Mandalay. Despite many people worshipping and taking pictures, I found my inner peace strolling around the Pagoda.
Note: Need to walked barefooted and no restrooms inside (restroom across the street, 300MMK for entrance).
We begin our day in Mandalay with a welcome breakfast in front of the famous U-Bein Bridge.
09:00 Visit U-Bein Bridge, a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lakenear Amarapura. The bridge is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Visit Mahamuni Pagoda.
12:00 The crew waited for us on board.
12:30 - 14:30 Myanmar lunch at the Strand Restaurant
Pennywort Leaves Salad
Squid Salad Myanmar Style
Tea Leaves Salad
White Pumpkin with Pork Spare Ribs
Mix Vegetables Curry
Traditional Myanmar Dessert
Small Rice Ball with Jaggery sauce
14:30 After lunch we stopped in Mingun, one of the country's former capitals. We first visited the Mingun Bell.
We then went to the Hsinbyume Pagoda, an impressive pagoda that rise in seven curved whitewashed terraces representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt Meru, the mountain at the cemter of the Buddhish universe.
18:00 Sunset cocktail, admire the magnificent sights over the Ayeyarwady river from the ship's sundeck, sipping one of the Strand Cruise's signature cocktails.
19:00 Grill dinner on an unknown island in the Ayeyarwady river
It was a surprised when we got on the island. The staff offer us drinks. We then walked on the sand with bare foot. On one side, the chefs were grilling food for us. On the other side, a camp fire was set. There are three tables so we chose our seat.
On the table:
Selection of Sauces (Alioli, Lemon, Mayonnaise, Mint-Yogurt, Pesto and BBA)
Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream, Spring Onions and Bacon Bits
Lamb Cotelettes, Sambal Chicken, Pork Ribs, Beef
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Banana Toffee Skewer
Flambeed Pineapple with Mandalay Rum
With the help of the staff, we launched a flotilla of paper boats on the rive. They also presented us a wedding anniversary cake and a "Hsun-ok". which is a Myanmar food offering Lacquerware. The whole staff team then sang a song with guitar accompany for us.
Bagan, located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, is the home to the largest and densest collection of ancient Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. The particularity in which each of these monuments are designed and constructed is of high significance in Buddhism, with each component part taking on spiritual meaning.