YANGON — Bogalayzay Street in downtown Yangon has been getting increasingly popular of late thanks to a growing number of good restaurants, cafés, an art gallery, an old-school barbershop — and now a traditional village-style restaurant called Buthee, courtesy of Rangoon Tea House (RTH).
Opened in July, the space combines Buthee, which means bottle gourd, with Mr. Wok, an RTH chain popular for its fried noodles and rice. I stopped in for the first time this week after a few strong recommendations from colleagues.
From the street, the white storefront gives the appearance of a coffee shop more than a typical Yangon lunch spot.
When you enter, the staff greet you with a “mingalar bar.” There are tables both downstairs and upstairs. And though Buthee bills itself as a traditional restaurant, the space is much more modern.
Buthee offers village-style Burmese lunches with a wide choice of a ywat thoke (vegetable salad), a kyaw thoke (fried salad) and desserts, coffee, tea and other drinks.
Like many Myanmar lunch spots, all the main dishes and sides are behind glass. You can take a look at the options and place your order at your table.
They have a very clean ngapi yay (fish sauce) station, an all-time favorite with most Burmese. There are many fresh vegetables including bamboo shoots, cucumbers and eggplant to eat with the sauce.
My friend and I tried the nga phel hinn (fried fish cake curry) for 2,300 kyats, mixed vegetable salad for 500 kyats, a kyaw sone (deep fried vegetables) for 1,000 kyats, and Pyinmana-style salad, named after a township in Naypyitaw.
Most of the dishes and salads are prepared in the Pyinmana style because it’s the hometown of RTH owner Htet Myat Oo’s father, according to Buthee’s Facebook page.
Except for the salads, the dishes are ready to eat, so they won’t take too long to reach your table.
The nga phel hinn was cooked with tomato gravy, so it was a bit sour, but I loved it. The fish was fresh and the gravy not too oily.
The mixed vegetable salad was excellent. The leaves were perfectly boiled and the combination tasted great. But I didn’t much like the Pyinmana-style mixed salad; It was sweet and had too much bean powder.
But the complimentary gourd soup was also great. I loved it. And the rice is all-you-can-eat.
The a kyaw sone is served with delicious tamarind dipping sauce. The fries are crispy and crunchy, not very oily, and the portion is enough for two.
We had a very pleasant lunch and I wanted to try their desserts but I was full.
The whole meal cost about 7,000 kyats, cheap for what you get. I fully recommend Buthee for those who want to try a typical Burmese lunch.
Though the food and prices are perfect, the restaurant does need to train its staff. While friendly, they don’t pay the customers enough attention. I called and waved to place my order, but they hardly noticed. And while a few of the dishes are written in English, most are in Burmese. So if you can’t read Burmese, try to ask the staff for help.
Other than that, Buthee is a perfect choice for lunch, coffee and tea.