Port Autonomy Is Back for a Third Time
By Lwin Mar Htun 3 October 2019
One of Yangon’s favorites, Port Autonomy, returns for a third time and brings back some memories. The restaurant is in the former Union Bar and Grill with new decor and a refreshed vibe.
The Old Union was traditional and PA is more trendy with its corrugated iron sheets on the walls and ceiling, along with pictures of harbor cranes and containers. There are also some traditional Yangon elements, like bamboo basket lampshades. The decor is a bit unusual, but it does offer a different vibe from other high-end bars.
A big neon sign in Burmese reads “war tee” (enjoy eating) at the bar, to remind guests to try the dishes.
In 2014 the first PA opened next to the Lanthit jetty and the second one was on the Kabaraye Pagoda Road before closing in 2016.
After three years, PA is back on Strand Road with a new Mexican-influenced menu and more Asian-fusion dishes.
When we visited a few weeks ago one afternoon there were only a few customers. It is quiet and my favorite band The 1975 were playing at the perfect volume.
We ordered the chef’s recommended tacos guisados (20,000 kyats), a DIY dish. It has hand-pressed tortillas, pickled onions, avocado salsa verde, fresh herbs, sliced lime and crispy fried fish sticks.
The homemade tortillas are best while fresh and warm. The taste is wholesome, soft and amazing. Although pricey, it is worth a try.
We also tried the PA steak (29,000 kyats), served with ssam (Korean for “wrapped”), nan pla (fish sauce), sirloin, lettuce wraps, herbs and Korean sauces.
It was the first time I’d tried steak in the ssam style and it was wonderful. The medium-grilled steak is tender, soft and succulent.
Both meals use natural, fresh ingredients and include different vegetables and colors. I really enjoyed them.
The drinks menu is a bit pricey but bar manager Jen Queen is known for her creative, outstanding cocktails.
We ordered PA’s celebrated vodka-based Return of the Jetty (7,000 kyats) with vodka, lemongrass, fresh citrus and frothed whites served in an enamel cup. It is sour and refreshing. Fully recommended.
The other sampled cocktail was the Legacy Pandan (7,000 kyats) with pandan vodka, coconut-pandan reduction, coconut gomme, lime leaves, cape gooseberry and fresh lime. Neither cocktail is too strong and they both taste wonderful, thanks to their fresh ingredients.
Queen said they always use seasonal fruit and get the ingredients from Yangon’s markets.
The friendly staff are willing to talk about the meals and drinks.
PA is hosting a series of events to celebrate its reopening. This Friday the event will be titled “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” and start at 8 p.m. to start the weekend off in style.