Food and drink: La Carovana (Yangon)
**Please note that all of Tour Mandalay’s restaurant reviews are carried out undercover and are therefore 100% unbiased. We only feature the best, thus helping to ensure you make the most out of your time in Myanmar.**
**IMPORTANT UPDATE – La Carovana has now closed and there are talks about the same owners opening up a South East Asian-style fusion restaurant. As one of our favourite gourmet Mediterranean restaurants, fingers crossed we’ll see La Carovana open up somewhere in Yangon again soon.**
On the back of his success with Port Autonomy, executive chef Kevin Ching aims to raise the bar even higher with his fresh take on authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
Located just off the busy Kabar Aye Pagoda Road (a 15-20 minute drive from downtown depending on traffic), La Carovana can be found in the mansion adjacent to Port Autonomy. Once home to Le Planteur, the venue is no stranger to fine dining and we’re sure the walls are happy to see expertly prepared dishes gracing the restaurant floor once more.
Shortly after being ushered in by a glamorous looking waitress, Tour Mandalay were presented with two wooden backed menus, one à la carte items and another featuring a carefully chosen two or three course set. At 15,000 ++ kyat for the two course and 20,000 ++ kyat for the three course, we thought this was amazing value (especially considering USD1 would get you close to MMK1290 at the time of writing).
Armed with a healthy appetite, Tour Mandalay ordered the following dishes from the à la carte menu. Please note that these photographs were taken with a hand held camera in low light so it wasn’t possible to do the presentation, colours and freshness complete justice.
Thoughts: Who’d have thought butter tzatziki would work?! Excellent vegetarian dish and the mint helps to further enhance the freshness.
Thoughts: Our favourite dish. The hamachi was so fresh it could have gotten away with being served at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. Very creative and colourful presentation – great use of edible flower leaves and pomelo.
Thoughts: There was certainly no shortage of meat – extremely generous portion. The mash potato (mixed with olive oil) and side of chutney complimented the dish wonderfully.
Thoughts: One of the best desserts we’ve eaten in a long time. If you like chocolate orange, this dish will literally send you temporarily to heaven. Apparently this is served at La Carovana’s ‘eat as much as you like’ brunch served on Saturday. We’ll definitely be going back for an extra portion.
Having recently eaten at some of South East Asia’s best restaurants including Joel Robuchon Bangkok, Signature Tokyo and Amber in Hong Kong, we agreed that the presentation, quality and freshness of the dishes served was on a similar scale if not better. It’s also important to point out that Myanmar does not have easy access to most of the ingredients served up, which makes Kevin’s efforts seem more impressive. It turns out that a lot of the ingredients are sourced from Sharky’s, a food Yangon-based producer that specialises in top quality organic Myanmar produced cuisine.
To wash down the above, Tour Mandalay ordered a lemon grass infused cocktail from the recently opened ‘New Boris’ bar upstairs. If a cocktail doesn’t take your fancy, then hopefully a bottle of wine from the extensive wine list will.
One thing we really liked was the main restaurant area located on the ground floor. In what was once the bar of the old Le Planteur, the red and white stripes might seem a bit ‘in your face’ at first, but if anything, it helps the room to feel bright, modern and hip. It’s also a good size with nine tables, which helps to ensure that personal touch. For diners looking for that extra bit of exclusivity, there’s also a spacious private room available, which would comfortably accommodate five to six diners.
Reluctant to leave, we decided to order another cocktail, this time ordering a silky smooth rum based concoction. If time permits, be sure to pull up a pew in one of the many comfortable wicker chairs as the drinks served here are divine. If it’s not to humid out, you may also wish to consider sitting outside in the garden – just be careful not to step on the free roaming goose!
Just as we settled the bill, we caught executive chef Kevin Ching running through the kitchen with some fresh pasta. If anything, this helped to further convince us of the time, care and thought that goes into each one of his dishes.
Before arriving at La Carovana, we had been advised to watch our wallets due to the hefty price. However, with prices starting at MMK20,000 ++ ($15.50) for a three course meal, we honestly don’t know what they were on about. Perhaps they had over indulged on those tasty cocktails upstairs? In the end, Tour Mandalay opted for the à la carte menu, but even this averaged out at just under MMK40,000 ($30) per person. For a fine dining experience in a country where quality ingredients are hard to get hold of, we thought this was exceptional value.
For anyone looking to celebrate the first or last night of a trip to Myanmar in style, La Carovana comes highly recommended. It’s also worth considering a stop here if you have a late flight, or crave a temporary escape from the city’s non-stop hustle and bustle.
Kevin Ching’s brilliance, coupled with his appreciation for fresh, local and authentic produce has helped to create a Mediterranean restaurant with a real difference. The service, food and general ambiance was spot on and we would not hesitate to recommend the experience to any of our clients.
To check out La Carovana’s sample lunch, dinner and à la carte menu please click here.
Address: No.22, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Yangon, Myanmar
Tel: +95 9 262230070