Sunday, August 20, 2017

Top food on bottom floor

Malls, Malls, Malls.

The Japanese dining hall is the first of its kind in Yangon. Photo - The Myanmar TimesThe Japanese dining hall is the first of its kind in Yangon. Photo - The Myanmar Times

The past few months has seen a slew of large-scale retail developments open around Yangon.

If anyone doubted that economic times are a-changin’, then these malls are the answer.
Inevitably, such developments come with requisite food options. So, like in many other parts of the continent, mall dining has also arrived in this city.

While mall dining conjures up images of bland food in equally bland surrounds, Tokyo Dining City is somewhat different.

The complex recently opened in the basement level of the fancy new Sule Square.

It’s not in particularly good company, with other basement shops including a supermarket, pharmacy and various fast food chains.

The salmon and avocado roll. Photo - The Myanmar TimesThe salmon and avocado roll. Photo - The Myanmar Times

But there is actually much more to Tokyo Dining City than meets the eye.

Walking into the space, customers are greeted with the usual chorus of Japanese welcomes. A purchasing card is then given out to use at each food station – something expected more in Tokyo than Yangon.

The hall is made up of a half dozen or so different food stations. Each serves a handful of Japanese favourites.

The swank signage announces dishes and prices – there’s a ramen station, a donburi station, a sushi station and a separate bar station with (for a food court) some pretty decent drink options.

The staff were very eager to please and, without being too verbose, showed us around.

Our party decided on a pair of donburis and some sushi, both to be washed down with a cold glass of Kirin draft.

Mall dining: the new normal? Photo - The Myanmar TimesMall dining: the new normal? Photo - The Myanmar Times

After a few swipes of our card, we were in our seats and ready for the meal.

First up, the sushi. The salmon and avocado roll (K5,800) was one of the better we’d had in Yangon at this price point. Out of curiosity, we also got a salmon sandwich (K7,800). It both sounded and looked strange – a sort of square sushi roll – but again, proved to be tasty.

The donburis were more impressive. The nanban don (K8,200) had well-cooked chicken swimming in delicious sauce atop rice. Similarly, the katsu don (K8,200) was a hit. The tender pork cutlet was gone in no time.

Our dinner was a quick one, but (again, for a food court) surrounds are pleasant enough to stick around and have another drink or two from the bar.

A neighbouring group of Japanese businessmen certainly looked like they were planning to do justice to a few more Kirins.

Considering this is mall food – basement mall food in fact – we left surprisingly satisfied.

Will we take another trip down into the lower levels of Sule Square? Hai!

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