Monday, September 25, 2017

Acacia Tea Salon: more than just tea

Dessert is served at Acacia Tea Salon. Yadanar / The Myanmar TimesDessert is served at Acacia Tea Salon. Yadanar / The Myanmar Times

Two decades ago Sayasan Road, the part just off Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, had one or two large teashops. They were the kind that served the strong, sweet, condensed-milk-laced tea that is the lifeblood of Yangon men, along with buns, cakes and pastries filled with bean paste.

Now the whole street is lined on both sides with huge restaurants offering Thai food, grills, hotpot, noodles and many more varieties of the same. Most of these restaurants can easily be spotted, with their names and menus flashing in red, green and yellow neon.

But one place, a renovated 1950s house of a substantial size, sits back quietly from the road within a large compound. A wide and pretty glass pavilion stands at the side, rather like a dressed-up girl obediently standing next to her imposing mother. A discreet black-and-white sign on the front wall says ‘Acacia Tea Salon’. But don’t be misled — Acacia is about much more than tea.

Someone I know to be a person of discerning taste in food and ambience had suggested that my friend Gabriele and I try Acacia. Never having heard of the place, but trusting my friend, we ventured forth one evening, saying to each other that if it did not work out we’d go someplace else. Our doubts were amplified after seeing the sign with the words “tea salon”.

We stepped inside the elegant front room where large glass cases showed off the most beautiful cakes we’d ever seen. They seemed inspired by Miro or Japanese gardens. We forgot about dinner, for a few minutes at least, but upon questioning a waiter, we were assured that we would be fed a proper meal.

Casting experienced eyes on the cakes, we decided to leave room for dessert. I wondered how anyone could bear to eat up such works of art but, oh yes, we managed to gobble ’em  up just fine.

The dining rooms lay behind the front room; the house must have been a residence of one of the old-money aristocrats, and apart from the re-plastered walls and off-white paint job, the decorator had left it in a state of minimalist elegance. A few tubs of tall, lush palms, some cases displaying blue and white ceramics, and white furniture gave an air of dignity to the place.

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