Monday, September 25, 2017

Kopitime: Coffee time at Ya Kun cafe

Wherever you are in the world, there are some traditions that are universal. A tea break in Myanmar, a coffee break in the United States, or kopitime in Singapore help bridge the gap in cultural differences. We all know what is to sit down to a cup of tea or coffee and unwind.

Nasi lemak istemewa. Photos: Lwin Ko TaikNasi lemak istemewa. Photos: Lwin Ko Taik

While I could never imagine the tea-drinking culture in Myanmar being broken, the invasion of coffee into the mainstream has resulted in a number of Western-style cafés popping up all over Yangon. In contrast, the Ya Kun Family Café is a Singaporean chain that’s proving to be as popular in Myanmar as it is in Singapore and Malaysia.

The restaurant, conveniently located in a bustling tourist hotspot on Bogyoke Aung San Road next to the market and underneath the new Parkson building, is already attracting passersby as well as those familiar with the chain. The outdoor dining area provides a great vantage to people-watch and soak up the Yangon city atmosphere. The mosque across the street is a charming backdrop to the hustle and bustle of the street, but it can prove a bit noisy when you’re trying to talk and listen.

Tucking into a nasi lemak istemewa (K3700), I definitely felt the international flavours of Yangon. The coconut rice, dried anchovies and sambal and deep-fried chicken tasted like something I’d eaten in Malaysia. The Kaya toast (K1100) – a toasted sandwich with coconut jam and dollops of cold butter – was something like I’d tried in Australia. It felt like I had ordered a decadent snack, but the toast was quite light and not at all heavy. The coffee was also decent, coming out in a generous portion and cost just K2200 for a cappuccino. A regular filter coffee is priced at K1000.

What I noticed the most about Ya Kun was the staff’s commitment to hygiene. The quick-service style is efficient and the food (while most likely calorie-loaded) was not at all oily. Care was taken in presentation and the bonus for th is place is that they provide free Wi-Fi that’s connected to the fibre-optic cable network.

Ya Kun

Ya Kun Family Café, FMI Centre, Ground Floor, 380 Bogyoke Aung San Road, Yangon

Ya Kun Coffee and Toast, Junction Square, 2nd Floor, between Pyay Road and Kyun Taw Street, Yangon

Food: 7

Drink: 8

Service: 8

Atmosphere: 8

X-factor: 7

Value for money: 7

Total Score: 7.5/10