Babett has been open for less than two weeks, but in that short time, she has breathed new life into Yangon’s food scene and raised the bar for every eatery that aspires to turn Yangon into a food and lifestyle destination.
Like its sister restaurants in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Babett is an affordable yet trendy hangout spot with well-presented, Insta-worthy food and a day-to-night veranda perfect for dinner and drinks any day of the week.
It markets itself as “laid-back yet sophisticated,” and that’s hard to deny. It’s already one of the most suitable places in town for a chill date, a business meeting, or several drinks with friends. The furniture is satisfyingly weighty and comfy, and the background music is hip yet inoffensive.
The food comes from the mind of executive chef Javier Ballesta, who has honed his talent in creating authentic Spanish and Mediterranean dishes working in Spain, Cambodia, and Malaysia, now oversees food and beverage for the entirety of Hotel G Yangon, where Babett is located.
When we visited Babett last week to sample the menu, we started with the the G-Board – a sumptuous platter of wafer-thin serrano ham, salami, and Paris ham, complimented by chunks of blue cheese, camembert, and tomme de savoie, as well as cashews, dried fruit, and pickled onions and cauliflower. The tomme de savoie, both for its enigmatic origins and its creamy flavor, was the star of the show.
Next, we dug into an array of tasty starters. The Grilled Octopus with Shan potatoes was savory and tender, and not rubbery at all. The Roasted Baby Carrots with feta cheese – cooked yet still crunchy – inspired love for a vegetable that rarely gets dignified with an opinion. Among the tapas, the Ham Croquettes – crispy on the outside, slightly sweet and soft on the inside – were a favorite.
The G Pizza, baked in Babett’s wood-fired oven and topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, serrano ham, pepperoni, ham, and olives, was one of the better pizzas for meat-lovers in Yangon, especially considering the fact that Babett does not describe itself as a pizzeria.
The Black Angus Rib Eye steak was tender and buttery and served in its own juice in a manner that was both intentional and tasteful.
In the originality category, the Salmorejo won hands down. The tomato-bread gazpacho came with little slabs of seared, marinated butterfish. If you’re looking for a few bites of something you’ve never had before, this dish will make you happy you decided to experiment. Also, we were told it is Chef Ballesta’s specialty.
For dessert, we had the lemon meringue pie, which featured a delightful juxtaposition of buttery, tart, and sweet. We also quickly tore apart the chocolate volcano – a soft, warm molten chocolate cake that went perfectly with vanilla ice cream. We all vowed to order it again.
Among the four of us who shared the meal were two carnivores, one non-pork eater, and one vegetarian, and we found that the menu was slightly friendlier toward the carnivores. This is neither surprising nor unique, especially for a restaurant serving Spanish cuisine, but points can always be earned by defying this trend.
Finally, it must be said that given the range and quality of its fare, Babett is of considerably better value and comfort than Yangon’s other “fine dining” options. It’s location in the Yaw Min Gyi ward is ideal, and it offers a different promotion every day, including free-flow cocktails for ladies every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm. Babett serves dozens of imported wines, and offers a unique three-course lunch special every weekday for just K10,000.
See you there for lunch. And then dinner. And then maybe a drink. Or five.