In its year of existence, Yangon’s only crêperie has defied a powerful trend by staying open and inoffensive. In a city where imaginative restaurants come to die, Ô’thentic Crêperie & Wine Bar remains committed to improving and innovating. One of those innovations is the lahpet thoke galette, which was introduced to the menu this week.
When we came down to Ô’thentic to try this French take on a Burmese classic, we were pleased to see it was busy and populated by a diverse crowd. Most of the guests came in couples, but there were some groups, and one solitary crêpe-lover. The interior is cozy and simple. It is definitely a nice place to sit, especially if you’re turned on by vintage Edison light bulbs. The staff are lovely and familiar with the menu.
Other reviews have described Ô’thentic as a tasteful, peaceful, air-conditioned haven from a gaudy, chaotic, sweaty outside. The floor-to-ceiling windows that gaze out onto the lives of street vendors and rubbish collectors definitely lend themselves to that interpretation. But if you lightly scratch this crêperie’s surface, you’ll find a sincere intention to be part of the surroundings, not separate from them.
For example, Ô’thentic maintains a friendly relationship with the food vendors that operate right outside its doors, and Christophe, the French owner, says he has bought new tables and chairs for his “competitors” in an effort to make sure their relationship mutually beneficial.
But aside from such obvious gestures, Ô’thentic also tries to fit in using the content of its menu. The lahpet thoke galette – a Burmese tea leaf salad packaged in a buckwheat pancake with a half-fried egg on top – is central to that effort.
More than just another east-meets-west gimmick, this dish is a lahpet thoke-lover’s ticket into the world of galettes, or the galette-lover’s ticket into the world of lahpet thoke. The dough, much like the rice in a lahpet htamin (tea leaf with rice), tempers the potency of the bitter leaf but does not mask its flavor. The sliced tomatoes, nuts, and seeds are exactly what you’d find in a traditional lahpet thoke, so the dish is not pretending to be something it’s not. And, according to one member of our party, the egg on top makes the whole thing feel a little French.
The Indian chicken curry galette, also released this week, offers a similar combination of the foreign and the familiar. The chicken and potato curry is pleasantly spicy and goes well with the chewy galette, though it might not entice people who don’t like carbs with their carbs.
These fusion galettes are well-intentioned and pretty well-executed, and we hope they become local favorites. But if you are beyond the need for a gateway galette, you can always opt for the non-fusion variety, which is where Ô’thentic truly shines.
The goat cheese and spinach in the Berger galette give it a creamy, tart, and earthy flavor. One member of our party described it as a bargain, remarking: “Where else could you get a goat cheese dish for K8,000?” We would order this one again.
We had the Chocolat Leigois crêpe for dessert, which we devoured, even though there was no belly space left between us. The crêpe is layered with semisweet Belgian chocolate and topped with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect treat to share after a satisfying meal.
Ô’thentic’s foray into Burmese-French fusion skillfully navigates the minefield of conversations about authenticity by inviting rather than advising, by combining rather than “improving.” These conversations are important to have, and perhaps the best forum for them is over a yummy crêpe.
TOP PHOTO: Ô’thentic’s lahpet thoke galette, priced at K6,000.