Food and drink: Port Autonomy, Yangon
*Please note that Port Autonomy has now closed and will soon relocate to the old Le Planteur restaurant (this will again be on a temporary basis). Rumour has it that the owners will also open up a fine dining restaurant alongside.*
Fancy dining somewhere a little bit different this evening? Well, look no further than Port Autonomy, a restaurant created by the TS1 pop-up project, who, to quote their own mission statement, “aim to spearhead urban renewal and cultural exchange in a city on the verge of unprecedented change.”
Located in Transit Shed No 1, close to the not so well-known Lanthit Jetty area, you will find what can only be described as a modern, slightly more arty take on a local beer station – this is a place where locals tend to gather, usually over lunch and dinner, to enjoy some food and a few pints of beer. The same concept applies at Port Autonomy, although it is fair to say that the food served here is a lot more gourmet in style.
Kevin Ching, the Hawaiian-born Head Chef, has created a mostly seafood inspired menu that would make any self-confessed foodie proud. The current offering features a range of dishes including lobster paella, a Goan fish curry, scallops and crispy fried buffalo chicken. It’s also extremely good value with the average dish setting you back approximately $10.
As you can see from the plate of scallops above, a lot of thought and creativity goes into the presentation of each and every dish. Full marks also goes to the freshness and quality of ingredients used – the restaurant really takes advantage of its port-side location.
Of course, without a selection of alcoholic beverages, it would not be possible to make comparison with a local beer house. Thankfully however, the drinks menu is equally as diverse – whilst we didn’t get the chance to sample the whole selection, the Port Punch comes highly recommended.
Food, drink and atmosphere aside, the thing Tour Mandalay love most about Port Autonomy is its location. The quiet, laid-back nature of Lanthit Jetty is not what people usually have in mind when they think of Yangon, but a short taxi journey will help to ensure you experience that. Once you have found the location of Port Autonomy – drivers are usually required to ask around – we would recommend you spend a bit of time exploring the jetty area on foot. Yes, it’s Yangon so it will potentially feel humid, but the gentle breeze from the waterfront will hopefully help to cool you down a bit. Oh, we almost forgot to mention, but there’s also a great art gallery next door (also owned by TS1), which is also worth checking out.
With so many restaurants ‘popping-up’ across the city, it’s getting more and more difficult to determine which ones you should eat at, especially if your stay is limited to just a couple of nights. Sure, you can look on TripAdvisor to source a recommendation, but due to the on-going restaurant boom that Yangon’s currently experiencing, you could argue that the top featured restaurants are already out of date. If you are the type of traveller that appreciates great food, a unique setting and laid back feel, Port Autonomy is a must.
Please note that Port Autonomy is currently renting Transit Shed 1 (along with the aforementioned TS1 gallery) from the Port Authority. Whilst it’s likely the restaurant will be around for a while, there is always a chance that the Port Authority will ask for their land back – hopefully this will provide you with even more of a reason to eat there!