One of my good friends from Cambodia decided to use her Water Festival holiday (a 4 day long cambodian public holiday) travelling around Myanmar and I was lucky enough to be able to join her for a few days in the beautiful Bagan countryside.
One of my first tasks was, naturally, to look into the best places to eat in Bagan and Nyaung U, so I was thrilled when I was reminded that TREE ALLIANCE (behind Romdeng & Friends restaurants in Phnom Penh, Marum in Siem Reap and Khaiphaen in Luang Prabang amongst others) had recently opened a training restaurant in Nyaung U called Sanon that was exactly what I had been looking for.
As with the other Tree Alliance Restaurants, Sanon offers vocational, on the job training to former street kids and vulnerable youths, with all profits being invested in the students who train there as well as social programs to “support them on their journey to becoming a skilled, productive and happy young person with a more secure future.”
The menu is also similar in style to the other Tree Alliance restaurants in that it is a great mix of local favourites as well as some appealing asian fusion and western dishes, perfect for the weary travellers who may well have spent several weeks in Asia and are looking for a taste of home, as well as those keen to sample all the local specialities – no prizes for guessing which camp I fall into 😉
I decided to start with the “Burmese Crunchy Bean and Ginger Salad“(3,500 Kyats or $2.60) followed by the “Burmese River Prawn and Catfish Curry with Apple Eggplant and Acacia Leaves” (8,700 kyats or $6.40) along with a refreshing “Frozen Pickled Plum Margarita” (5,500 kyats or $4)
I’m a big fan of Burmese salads, I love how they utilise all different sorts of ingredients and textures to create unusual and interesting flavour combinations and the Sanon ginger salad was a great example of this. Crunchy fried broad beans and shredded cabbage, lovely ripe tomato and slivers of fragrant fresh ginger, absolutely delicious!
If I was impressed by the salad, it’s safe to say I was blown away by how good the prawn and catfish curry was. The acacia leaves had been added to a fiery tomato based curry with small apple eggplants, slices of pan fried catfish and a HUGE river prawn that had not only been perfectly deveined but was also absolutely beautifully cooked, all the more impressive when you consider they have only been open 6 months!
I would whole heartedly recommend a meal at Sanon when you visit Bagan (my friend enjoyed it so much she went back twice!) The pretty garden dining area is a lovely place to enjoy dinner and the ambience is similarly enjoyable. Whilst it is a training school, the service when I went was excellent. Obviously this can change as new students come into the restaurant and I would generally recommend having a bit more patience than is usually necessary, although again in fairness the same could be said of most, if not all restaurants I have eaten at in Myanmar!
Sanon is open every day between 11am – 10pm, although the kitchen closes at 9.30pm. Bookings are recommended and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or asking your hotel to call +95 9451951950 / +95 9785989078
Pyu Saw Hti Street
(next to Thante Hotel)
Nyaung-U, Bagan, Myanmar