Sweet Gluttony: A dessert addict’s guide to Yangon

Apple pie, falooda, Indian treats. Photos: Yangon Bakehouse, Rangoon Tea House, Liberty Sweets & Snacks
Apple pie, falooda, Indian treats. Photos: Yangon Bakehouse, Rangoon Tea House, Liberty Sweets & Snacks

I have a serious sweet tooth and firm belief there’s a separate dessert stomach. Believe it or don’t, Yangon is not lacking in some fine sweets if you know where to look. I’ve put some serious thought into this list, but feel free to reach out if, like me, you have strong opinions when it comes to dessert and would like to have a healthy debate over a cool bowl of shwe yin aye.

Scroll down for a map of where to find these all.

Best falooda at Rangoon Tea House or Shwe Pu Zun

Photo: Rangoon Tea House
Photo: Rangoon Tea House

This is a weirdly contentious topic with my best friend — I think that the falooda (a refreshing, milky confection of rose syrup, vermicelli, sweet basil seeds) at Shwe Pu Zun is too sweet. She thinks that’s the case with that served at Rangoon Tea House. Neither of us will budge, and we usually end up alternating between the two whenever we’re craving falooda (which we do a lot when it’s hot, which in Yangon, is pretty much all the time). Also, Shwe Pu Zun is the OG when it comes to falooda so I don’t dare make too much of a fuss out of respect for tradition. Obviously have it in-store so the ice-cream doesn’t melt.

 

Best ice-cream at Sharky’s

Photo: Moe Thet War
Photo: Moe Thet War

Among the city’s priciest ice-creams – but oh-so worth it. No artificial flavoring, a million different flavors (a slight exaggeration, but there are a lot!), and a nice array of sorbets for vegan cravings. If you’re jonesing for some of the more basic flavors (e.g. strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, etc.) then pop into any of their branches. But for the full selection, head to the Dhamazedi shop. Flavor-wise, I’d recommend Chocolate Hazelnut or Yoghurt or my absolute favorite in the whole world: Mango and Coconut (trust me, iyou’ll end up buying a tub to bring home with you; I did). If you’re lucky, head over during prime sein ta lone for a scoop of sweet yellow magic in a cone.

 

Best apple pie at Yangon Bakehouse

Photo: Yangon Bakehouse / Instagram
Photo: Yangon Bakehouse / Instagram

Confession time: I hate pies. Maybe it’s because they aren’t a thing in Myanmar cuisine and are almost nonexistent in bakeries here – but I don’t like pies. There’s one notable exception: the apple pie at Yangon Bakehouse. I always say that it’s the only pie in the world I not only eat, but actually really, really enjoy. Pair it with one of their amazing coffees while you catch up on some work.

 

Best cakes at Rangoon Tea House

Photo: Rangoon Tea House
Photo: Rangoon Tea House

I eat a lot of cake, and generally speaking, only like one on the menu at any bakery. I believe that you should have a few amazing cakes instead of several mediocre cakes, but Rangoon Tea House’s selection of naked cakes nail that balance of flavor and variety. You can pre-order larger sizes several days in advance, but they also serve single portions in-store. Okay, I say “single portions,” but if you’re only planning on eating a normal-sized serving, two or three people could share one. I don’t dislike any of them, but my absolute loves are the Golden Coffee and the BFF. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous or want something special for the ‘gram, Naked Dessert Cafe which is run by the same management accepts pre-orders for a Boba Cake.

 

Best butter cake at 77 Cakes

Aside from Rangoon Tea House, the only other shop I could name off of the top of my head if pressed for a “best cake in town” recommendation is 77 Cakes, whose butter cake I’ve been eating since I was a kid. It looks pretty basic, but looks can be deceiving. The butter cake is so moist and airy and has never let me down; my sister and I usually buy a whole cake and split it right down the middle and devour it all within one evening. I’ve never had a bad butter cake, but I’ve most definitely never had one that even came close to championing 77.

 

Best Japanese cheesecake at Monster Cheese

Photo: Monster Cheese
Photo: Monster Cheese

(I told you I eat a lot of cake!) Surprisingly to some, I’m not a big American cheesecake person and as such, think that all the spots in town that serve it all do so adequately. What reigns supreme in my book is the light and fluffy texture of Japanese cotton cheesecakes. They’re fun to poke and taste like a cloud and can be consumed without the rich, heavy feeling that American cheesecakes leave behind. There aren’t a lot of places in the city that do Japanese cheesecake, but out of the ones that do have it on the menu, my favorite is Monster Cheese. The first time I ordered from them, I only got a slice, which I inhaled in less than a minute, and now I only ever get whole cakes. The ultimate endorsement: even my grandmother who doesn’t like cheesecake at all (she says it is too ee dae) lights up when I bring home Monster Cheese.

 

Best shwe yin aye at Marketplace or Bogyoke Aung San Market

I personally think that the vendors at Bogyoke Aung San Market serve the best shwe yin aye; I don’t have a favorite or a regular and usually go to the nearest one when I’ve done a few laps around the market and the beads of sweat are starting to drip down into my eyes. However, I’ve also heard arguments that roadside shwe yin aye isn’t made in the most sanitary of environments, which to be honest, is a fair enough concern. If you’re a germaphobe, Marketplace also does good shwe yin aye where the solid and liquid ingredients are packaged separately so that you can mix them only when you’re about to eat and thus not run into soggy bread territory. Obviously Marketplace is also a more convenient option for when you’re craving a cold, sweet bowl of shwe yin aye but shudder at the thought of trekking all the way downtown and braving the traffic and tourists (and tourist traffic).

 

Best mango pudding at Tiger Hill (Chatrium)

Photo: Tripadvisor
Photo: Tripadvisor

Tiger Hill Restaurant at Chatrium has a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet with a lot of great dishes, but the best thing on their menu is the mango pudding, hands-down. I would pay the full buffet price just to order nothing but a dinner’s worth of mango pudding. We once managed to convince them to sell us five cups of mango pudding and I ate it all in one afternoon. If we go eat there, the story my mother will tell you when it’s time for dessert at the end of the meal is (slight TMI alert) “My daughter loves this pudding so much that one time she was really ill but she insisted we come and eat here and she ate one cup of pudding, excused herself to the bathroom and secretly threw up, and then came back to the table and ate another cup.” I regret nothing.

 

Best assortment of Indian desserts at Liberty Sweets & Snacks

Photo: Liberty Sweets & Snacks
Photo: Liberty Sweets & Snacks

Yangon’s Indian quarter is teeming with small shops that have all the Mithai you could want on offer, and I could happily spend a couple of hours walking about and buying a treat or two from a slew of different shops. However, Liberty Sweets has been operating since way back when and is still going strong for good reason. The jalebi is a constant favorite of mine, and obviously, you have to try the gulab jamun. And of course, their official name is Liberty Sweets and Snacks — in addition to their colorful sweets, there are also a number of savory options for those who want the best of both worlds.

 

Best flan at Mañana

Photo: Mañana
Photo: Mañana

I had my first taste of Mañana’s flan a few days after they opened up their tiny first store at Pearl Condo. I went back many times for their delicious Mexican food, but I also always asked when ordering if they had flan that day. You can get custards at various bakery chains here, but no one makes real melt-in-your-mouth flan like Mañana. One time I was craving it real bad but when I got there, they said they didn’t have flan that day and it was very very sad; I must’ve been visibly heartbroken because the chef looked at my face and asked if we could wait a bit while she went into the kitchen and whipped some up just for me. I felt so arr nar but I also didn’t say no because I really really really wanted that flan. Just go right now and thank me later.

 

Best kyauk kyaw at Tint Tint

Photo: Tint Tint
Photo: Tint Tint

My vegan sister is always trying out new places that do desserts that aren’t just vegan but actually good. She excitedly brought home a couple of different things from Tint Tint. The ohn sein and ohn thee kyauk kyaw are my favorite — they’re not just great vegan desserts, but great desserts overall. In addition to kyauk kyaw, Tint Tint also has a wide array of traditional Myanmar snacks that are all tasty. Don’t be intimidated if you’re not well-versed in Myanmar monts — hanging on the wall behind the snack counter is a handy chart that names and describes each treat.

Moe Thet War is a freelance writer and full-time dog-petter based in Yangon. She is currently working on her debut essay collection.

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CITY: YANGONCATEGORY: FOOD & DRINKSUB-CATEGORIES: FOOD GUIDES

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