Nam Su, named after the Shan word for vinegar – one of Shan cookings most important ingredients – is the newest concept from the talented young team behind Rangoon Teahouse, Mr Wok & Buthee, which is opening soon in the Pinlon hawker centre, in the west of Yangon.
They celebrated the upcoming launch with another of their great pop up dinners at Rangoon Tea House, and I thought I would write about it in order to show you the sort fo food you can expect at Nam Su when it opens.
We started with a cocktail from their small list of specials for the evening, I chose the Kalaw Tiki (7,500 mmk made with gold & white rum, fresh pineapple, lime and kalaw peanut syrup that acted a s sort of orgeat, but with a more powerful peanut kick.
The first dish of the 10 course (yes, 10 courses! you read that right!) was Sweetcorn Tofu Nway, a twist on the classic warm, soft Shan tofu, made by adding organic sweetcorn, sourced especially for the occasion from Shan state. I loved Shan tofu, and the addition of sweetcorn added a nice sweetness to the dish which was counterbalanced by the chilli oil and Shan soy sauce it was served garnished with.
Next came Shan Dumplings with chicken and ku sai (chive roots) which I must say were probably my least favourite dish of the night, not that there was anything wrong with them, they just didn’t stand out as much as the other dishes we ate. It would also take a lot to sway me from thinking that the Shan dumplings at Aung Minglar aren’t the best in town (happy to be proven wrong though so if anyone has any tips, please do leave them in the comments!)
I wasn’t sure how I was going to find the next dish of Fermented Pork & Chicken but it was far less sour and tangy than the Thai Sai Krok (which I mistakenly thought may be similar in style) with what was really rather subtle fermentation. I think they had been bound with rice flour (?) the texture was great and I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed them.
Our next dishes came in very quick succession, perfect for sharing, and portions of Triple Cooked Tofu Kyaw, Beef Ball Soup, White Tofu Salad, Mho Paung & Fish Rice with Crispy Catfish were all whisked to our table in no time at all.
Tofu Kyaw is a real favourite of mine, I tried (and failed miserably!) to make this when I was back in the UK as I enjoy it so much, and the Nam Su version, with its extra dip in the fryer, was the perfect contrast of soft wobbly tofu and a crispy outer shell.
The Beefball Soup transported me straight back to last years trip trip to Keng Tung in Shan State. The broth was wonderfully fresh and aromatic, quite different to the broth you have with Shan Noodles.
More Tofu, this time in the form of white tofu salad, something I was interested to try as I haven’t eaten Hsan ta hpo, a specialist form of tofu made almost exclusively in Shan state, using rice flour as opposed to chickpea and split pea flour which is more commonly found elsewhere in Myanmar, before. I really liked the slightly firmer texture of the white tofu and the Nam su & chilli dressing was great.
My favourite dish of the night (although dessert came a very close second) was Mho Paung, 3 types of mushrooms (Shiitake, Snow Fungus & Thit Khat – which I think are similar to Shimiji mushrooms?) marinated and steamed in banana leaves. This dish was so meaty and rich in umami it was really something else and I loved the simple roasted chilli and Nam Su dressing. Delicious, and something I am absolutely going to be hunting out in Yangon’s Shan restaurants.
I think the Fish Rice with Crispy Catfish we were served was Shan Htamin Chin. I say “think” as the versions I have tried previously have had the rice and fish pounded together almost into a paste, where as the Nam Su version was much more solid and you could make out the rice grains still. I love the Shan condiments of chive roots, roasted chilli paste & crispy garlic paste, and you can’t have a meal without rice now can you?!
By this stage I was oh so full, but dessert beckoned and am I glad I listened! Khaw Pote is made by flattening sticky glutinous rice into a sort of pancake & then frying it. Whilst it is often eaten as an appetiser, the Nam Su version was stuffed with shaved coconut and jaggery and then fried, before being drizzled in more jaggery. Super sweet, you only need a small piece to make the most of those rich, sweet flavours. The perfect end to a delicious meal!
The pop up menu was 28,000++ per person (around $18) which was great value and a fun way to try something different. I eat at Shan restaurants quite frequently but it was lovely to try some new dishes, as well as enjoying them in such a fun and lively ambience, not to mention the ability to order something other than Myanmar beer with dinner, as the drink options in the Shan restaurants are definitely not like this!
Congratulations to the RTH team, I love the thought and creativity that goes into putting on each event, and I look forward to seeing what will be next!
Nam Su is now open at the Pinlon Hawker Centre
262 Pinlon Road, Ward 30, North Dagon (11.63 km)
Open daily 10am-10pm
Rangoon Tea House
Ground Floor, 77-79 Pansodan Rd (Lower Middle Block), Yangon
+95 (0) 9 979 078681
Open daily 7am-10pm