Shwe Sa Bwe is a restaurant & hospitality training school, training some 20-25 hospitality students every year. Their programs are offered free of charge to disadvantaged students coming from the poorer provinces, as well as local monastery schools and orphanages.
Students are divided into groups for culinary or front of house service training, and undergo a years training; one month of theory during August (when the restaurant is closed to outside guests) and eleven months of applied practice in their fine-dining restaurant in Yangon. The students also attend English lessons and life skills training classes, before undergoing one final practical examination after which they graduate and leave to find jobs in local hotels and restaurants.
As a local hospitality professional, I have been invited to help judge their final exams for the past few years and though that this year I would write up my experience as an examiner.
The students are split into 2 groups, with half the team doing lunch service and the other half doing dinner service. As an examiner for the lunch service I arrived at Shwe Sa Bwe shortly after 8am in order to have a quick coffee (and delicious home-made croissants and canelé) and to be talked through the exam process.
Each culinary student pulls the dishes they have to prepare (taken from dishes that have previously been taught, and served in the restaurant) from a hat and is allowed to present those dishes however they wish. They are also assigned a member of waiting staff who will be responsible for setting up and decorating their guests table, & making 2 types of welcome cocktail, as well as wine and food service.
The students are allowed to make the bread and pastry for the exam a day in advance but apart from that, everything has to be done from scratch and students prepared everything from quiche & tomato soup, to banoffee pie and chocolate fondant amongst others.
After observing the culinary students for 3 hours, it was time for the front of house staff to take over, and I was thankful for the impressively made whisky sour and pomelo G&T, even if our waiter was so nervous he was visibly trembling and it took everything in me to not just give him a big hug and tell him he was doing great (of course I didn’t because that would have been HIGHLY inappropriate and likely would have terrified him even more!)
His service throughout the meal was unobtrusive and well timed, and he received bonus marks from me, as he noted that I was the one ordering wine (at a table with 3 men) and gave it to me to taste each time – something that has failed to happen at several Michelin starred restaurants I have dined in.
Our menu was very well prepared indeed, I was especially impressed with how beautifully the egg for our appetiser had been poached, and the beef (which we had been worried wouldn’t be prepared in time) was perfectly tender. Our chocolate fondant dessert was also spot on, with the molten chocolate centre oozing out onto our plates.
We were able to sample dishes from the other students as well, I was a big fan of the delicious quiche Lorraine, as well as a delicious seafood pilaf and an expert looking lemon meringue pie.
After making our final scores, we had a round-robin session where we discussed areas that had impressed us, as well as areas that had room for improvement and handed in our final scores to their management team. It was great to hear that in the current uncertain job climate, Shwe Sa Bwe will be keeping their students on as fully paid team members this year, for as long as it takes them to find employment elsewhere
Shwe Sa Bwe is open for both lunch (when they offer a very good value set lunch menu) as well as dinner, and you will also be able to buy their bakery items from Kokkoya Organics in the not too distant future so do keep an eye out for that! They also offer a separate menu for vegetarians which is just as creative and delicious as their regular offering making it the perfect place for vegetarians to enjoy a special night out in Yangon. *Please note, as mentioned earlier, Shwe Sa Bwe is usually closed throughout August so do phone ahead or message them on facebook to check if they are open before visiting
Shwe Sa Bwe
20 Malikha Street Mayangone Township | Yangon, Myanmar
Tel. 01661983 | 09421005085
Tuesday – Saturday 12pm – 2:30pm & 6:30pm – 9:30pm and Sundays 6:30pm-9:30pm