Located on the West coast of Myanmar, just a short hours plane ride from Yangon to the airport at Thandwe, Ngapali beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of beach I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
As one would expect from a seaside destination, seafood is very much on the menu in numerous little local restaurants dotting the beach road, although sadly very few of them actually have a beach view, with that privilege seemingly only going to hotels. We ate at several of these little local restaurants during our recent break, and here are my recommendations for the ones that we enjoyed the most!
One of the more stylish restaurants that we ate in at Ngapali (although thats not saying much!) Enjoy! has a broad menu with lots of local Rakhine specialities and plenty of wonderfully fresh seafood.
We loved the Crab Curry, and our simple grilled Red Snapper, served with both lime and pepper sauce and. aThai style Prik Nam Pla, which went perfectly with a side of their Tomato & Avocado salad. We paid around 55,000 ($40) for dinner for 4 which included a bottle of local white wine and beers.
The lovely owner of Sea Queen, Ma Moe Moe, walked the stretch of beach outside our hotel every day before lunch and dinner, telling the hotel guests about the daily catch and specials, and I was impressed with her creative approach to marketing (friends who have stayed elsewhere in Ngapali told me they have never seen someone doing this before)
The Grilled Prawns were delicious (although on the whole, we would have preferred them plain as opposed to their tomato marinade) and I really enjoyed the Grilled Squid that was meltingly tender and perfectly cooked. Their Tomato Salad was probably the most simple of the holiday but also one of the tastiest. Complimentary banana in coconut milk and little shell bracelets were a thoughtful end to the meal and I would happily have returned and we been staying for longer. We paid around 35,000 ($25) for lunch for 4 with beer.
The Rakhine Fish Curry and the Crispy Squid at Zaw 2 were without a doubt, two of the best dishes of our trip, and I certainly ate far more than my fair share of them both!
The Curry was light and fragrant, but, be warned – absolutely packed full of fiery green chillis! We asked for ours to be medium as it was our first experience of Rakhine Curry which is probably a good idea in a mixed group, although it left me craving more spice! The Squid was also a revelation, spicy, with just the right amount of texture, it was quite unlike the standard fried squid I had been expecting, making for a very pleasant surprise! Dinner for 4 with local wine and beer was around 55,000 ($40)
Just across from the Amazing Ngapali resorts just a little further up the road from Sea Queen, the Ocean Pearl was another great lunch find for when we wanted to get out of the hotel.
This was the only restaurant where we were given a complimentary appetiser, as opposed to a dessert, and the crisp Panko Prawns were very welcome indeed. We shared a few dishes including a very pleasant Fishermans Grill with grilled Barracuda, Vegetables, Clams and Prawns, with the owner giving us additional prawns for free to ensure everyone received their fair share which I thought was incredibly thoughtful and a very kind gesture indeed. The standard salad selection included our favourites of Tomato & Avocado and we enjoyed a lovely lunch there until I was struck down with some mystery illness (none food related!!) and had to beat a hasty retreat back to the hotel, much to my dismay.
A late discovery, but providing another of the holidays best dishes, was Family Restaurant, just across from the glitzy Sandoway resort.
We probably enjoyed the best service of the holiday here with the friendly owner making his way around all the tables for a chat, whilst the rest of the family took it in turns to serve the guests. Whilst the portions were on the smaller side compared to some of the others we ate at, their Coconut Curries (we tried both the prawn and steamed fish version) were a huge success. We paid around 30,000 for 3 with beer.
Thanks to The Greedy Chopsticks for their very helpful post on where to eat in Ngapali, which helped ensure our first few meals were great until we were able to suss out the lay of the land!