Sunday, August 20, 2017

Restaurant Review: 7th Joint Bar and Grill

Last week, an article on Global Post declared, “Bushwick is over: Time to move to Yangon.” Apparently, Yangon’s emerging bar and restaurant scene is an early sign of the “hipster revolution” about to sweep the city. Clearly, in his haste to broadcast the city’s hip new “foodie culture” to the world, the writer of said article didn’t find time to visit 7th Joint Bar and Grill.

Photos: Charlotte Rose / The Myanmar TimesPhotos: Charlotte Rose / The Myanmar Times

Whilst I certainly don’t claim to be an arbiter of hip – I’ve never owned a gramophone and only drink from jam jars when I’ve run out of clean glasses – I’m fairly confident that 7th Joint isn’t it. For those tired of sipping cocktails out of tea cups while sitting on milk carts, this is no doubt reason enough to visit. Unfortunately, there are many more reasons why you shouldn’t.

7th Joint’s location, at the back of a disused retail unit facility, gives it a clandestine air which – in a world where “cool” means partying in a converted shipping-container – should be its free ticket into the hipster club. But this place is not so much “fashionably uncool” as it just uncool. Claiming to be “the only reggae bar in Myanmar”, 7th Joint “strives to deliver a unique reggae experience with an atmosphere that will take you back to the Caribbean”. Now, I’ve never been to the Caribbean, but I’m almost certain that it doesn’t look like this. Unless, of course, it’s painted in red, green and yellow stripes and covered entirely in pictures of Bob Marley.

While Bob smiled down at us from the wall, my guest and I turned our attention to the menu. I ordered the “signature” jerk chicken (K6500) from the range of Jamaican favourites on offer, which was served with traditional rice and beans and an unbuttered, unsalted, unimaginative corn on the cob. The dish looked bland, and tasted even blander, though it was undoubtedly the better choice next to my guest’s Jamaican chicken curry, the taste of which was akin to a kitchen sponge that has been left in dishwater overnight. Even the potato wedges (K2500) we ordered as a side were undercooked and unseasoned – does the Caribbean not have salt?

Admittedly, 7th Joint probably isn’t the kind of place you go to enjoy a good meal. It’s more of a bar than it is a grill – a place to sip cocktails whilst listening to reggae and reminiscing about the time you smoked a joint on the beach with that girl with the belly-button piercing. And in the drinks department, 7th Joint deserves some credit. Not because they taste great (they don’t) but because they’ve taken the K800 mojito formula popular with 19th Street revellers – cheap rum, heaps of sugar syrup – and ingeniously repackaged it as a K4500 mojito. Among the range of other cocktails on offer, the Sex on the Beach was only mildly better – though I did enjoy the less-than-subtle quip on the menu: “I know you have tried it. If not, you do wanna try it. If you know what I mean.” (Yes. We know what you mean.)

None of this, however, seemed to matter to the crowds that packed out the two-tier bar. Perhaps because friendly service and a charming owner – who spent the night handing out free shots – create a welcoming atmosphere that makes 7th Joint feel like more of a house party than a bar. The buzzing, anything-goes vibe and live music give this place the potential to become a popular late-night watering hole. While they didn’t actually play any reggae, the band was jaunty, and after a bit of a dance I even started to enjoy the place. Who knows, perhaps there’s a need for a Bob Marley-themed bar among the wave of “gastro” and “bespoke” openings that has swept the city of late.

Hipster is over: It’s time to move to the Caribbean.

7th Joint Bar and Grill
G-A10 Shwe Asia Building, corner of 47th Street and Mahabandula Road, Botahtaung Township
Restaurant Rating:   2/5 stars  
Food: 3
Beverage: 4
Service: 7
Value: 5
X factor: 5