When you walk into Boat Noodle, a staff member at the door shouts “Boat Noodle!” To this, the rest of the team responds “Sawadee ka(p)!” And then you are led to your seat.
The tables overlook an open kitchen with three stations – one each for wok dishes, noodle soups, and icy drinks. Though not a true Bangkok-style food court, (you order from your table), Boat Noodle offers the people of Yangon a super-affordable, air-conditioned place to grab a quick, tasty bite.
The boat noodles themselves, a take on the Thai dish kuaitiao ruea, come with either chicken or pork, rice noodles or egg noodles. The broth may be sweeter than you expect, so taste it before you add your kruang prung (condiments). It doesn’t contain much more than a few bites of noodles, animal flesh, and some herbs, but a serving costs just K720 (US$0.53).
It cannot be overstated that the portion size is small, but your second one will also cost just K720. Given the restaurant’s location on the ground floor of Dagon Center (I), it’s a good mid-shopping snack option.
In fact, the restaurant challenges its customers by asking “How many bowls can you do?”
Also on the menu are other Thai classics, like som tam (green papaya salad) and pad krapao (ground animal flesh with Thai basil). We tried the MAMA noodle salad with crab sticks, which was fresh and spicy. The crab sticks were probably edible food-like substances, but the flavors created by the mixture of tomatoes, fish sauce, lime juice, and chilies were enough to put one’s mind off the failures of capitalism.
If that doesn’t do the trick, though, washing everything down with a giant cup of sugary iced coffee sure will.
The staff at Boat Noodle are cheerful and competent, and the street scenes painted on the exposed concrete walls make it a cool place to chill. Patrons get a few minutes of free WiFi access, and there are outlets underneath the benches lining the walls.
If you’re looking for a big, exciting kuaitiao ruea experience, you’re better off heading down the street to the ground floor of the Myaynigone City Mart, where you’ll find 365 The Terrace, whose boat noodles are a true breath of Bangkok air (in a good way).
But if you’re looking for a quick escape from the Sanchaung bustle and a tasty, affordable snack, Boat Noodle has what you need.
Boat Noodle is open from 10am to 10pm. Directions can be found on its Facebook page.