We may never have given Four Tomatoes a chance had we not driven by it one morning and spotted a few friends sitting and laughing and sipping espressos on the patio. We still had no idea what the place served or what its name referred to, but the possibility of finding a new go-to spot with outdoor seating on a relatively quiet corner of downtown Yangon was enticing.
When we got there the next morning to check it out, we saw pizzas and pastas on the menu, and we tried to order some. But it turns out that only the evening menu is Italian. During the day, the menu is broadly Asian, with a focus on Mandalay cuisine. Neither is disappointing.
We started with coffee, which was strong and flavorful. Then we had some hand-made pork gyoza, which were crispy on one side and juicy everywhere else. The dipping sauce was perfectly tangy.
Next, we had the chicken biryani. The chicken came out a little dry, but hopefully that can be avoided in the future. In general, the dish is cleaner and fresher than the mass-produced biryani sold elsewhere in Yangon – the relative absence of grease and fat are made up for by raisins and peas. That doesn’t mean we’ll never seek the greasy version again, but it’s good to know there’s a yummy, healthy-seeming option.
The same goes for the other rice dishes – they’re not greater than the sum of their parts. They taste exactly like their ingredients, which are simple and fresh. And they are all super affordable.
Among the evening selections, the pizza was the most impressive. Though not as notably low-priced as the morning dishes, the pizzas are well-cheesed, well-sauced, and have crust that is both crispy and chewy, and that’s worth paying for.
We also ordered the linguine vongole, which looked good but was pretty bland. The clams didn’t taste like much. With a little salt, it was inoffensive yet unremarkable.
(Please note: Four Tomatoes is undergoing kitchen renovations, so it will not be open for dinner until the second week of February.)
Four Tomatoes’ two-cuisine concept has the unfortunate effect of making passersby think it’s a jack of all trades and a master of none. In reality, it’s pretty good at what it does. And it’s staffed by people who are lovely and attentive and fill your glass with water throughout your meal. (But they say “Mingalaba” every time they come to your table, which seems excessive.)
The interior is spacious, well-lit, and not overly decorated, and the outdoor area is surrounded by cute little herbs. The WiFi is pretty decent, so it’s a great place to meet friends, discuss cryptocurrency, have a language lesson, read a book, or do some work online.
Four Tomatoes Cafeteria is located on Mahabandoola Road, opposite the entrance to 48th Street. They are open from 7am to 2pm and, once renovations are completed, from 5pm to 10:30pm.