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Burmese Flavours in Hong Kong City

The first course in “The Pansodan’s” tasting menu (counter-clockwise from the cracker): A savoury cracker, Burmese tomato paste on homemade honey toast, vegetable samosa, raw cauliflower and sweet peppers, and Burmese pâté

In this fast-paced, as daily demands in people’s work and personal lives seem never ending, the hyper-present middle class of Hong Kong society value unique and fulfilling experiences. Many of these experiences are centred around food. Over the decades, fine dining has become an increasingly popular way for the busy worker to travel to another country without having to deduct from their annual leave. And as more people seek out one-of-a-kind dining experiences, restaurants must regularly change their menus, carefully curate the ambience, and instill warm and professional manners in their staff to meet rising expectations.

Recently, I was able to take my taste buds on a journey. In recent years, the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar has opened to visitors. A unique location, Myanmar borders the Asian countries of India, China, Laos, Bangladesh and India, and is near Cambodia and Thailand. Surrounded by cultures with varied and complex flavour palettes, Burmese cuisine showcases the signature tastes of these cuisines, harmonizing them in a way wholly unique to Myanmar. Enjoying the dinnertime taster menu, below is an excerpt from my article about the experience, published in the Hong Kong magazine, “Culture”.

The main event: Melt-in-your-mouth tender sirloin steak paired with Burmese laphet and coriander relish

The typical lifespan of a popup restaurant is comparable to that of a mayfly. Culinary experiences can flit in and out of major cities from anywhere between a weekend to a handful of months. A collaboration between the JIA Group and Burmese entrepreneur Ivan Pun, “The Pansodan” pop-up nestled in Sai Ying Pun originally debuted for a three-month period ending on June 23. Popular demand saw this end date prolonged to the end of July, and once again to late October. Praised by online magazines and foodie bloggers alike, “The Pansodan” is an offshoot of a Burmese Brassie in Yangon – another of Ivan Pun’s culinary projects – that bears the same name from the historic road it resides on. While most pop ups come and go at the blink of an eye, “The Pansodan” has already extended its lifespan twice. As Myanmar’s borders open to more visitors, “The Pansodan” provides a unique cultural insight into a country whose flavour palette is influenced by its neighbours – China, India, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand.

Like most pop-up restaurants in Sai Ying Pun, “The Pansodan” is a hole-in-the-wall whose entrance lays near the end of an alley. A relaxed three-minute walk from the MTR station, coupled with its delicious food and it is no wonder that when we dined at the restaurant, it was near capacity despite it being a Tuesday night. Upon entering, “The Pansodan’s” ambience immediately sets guests at ease. A low-level warm glow permeates the space from the ceiling lights, affixed with Asian-inspired fishing baskets. The hand-painted wallpapers feature jungle flora and fauna by local artist Laura Cheung of Lala Curio. Rattan panels, cane chairs, and red banquettes point to the traditional brasserie concept that inspired Pun’s design choices. Attentive servers add to the charming atmosphere, happily answering any questions guests may have and promptly refilling water glasses before customers think to ask.

To enjoy the full flavour palette that “The Pansodan” has to offer, we ordered a Tasting Menu – a five-course medley of appetizers, salads, curry, noodles, biryani, steak, and dessert. As we waited for our dining experience to begin, we sipped on the eponymous cocktail. Comprised of Absolut Vodka, lemongrass, lime, pineapple, and basil, the sweetness of the lemongrass and pineapple claimed the initial impression of the drink, tinged with the aromatic flavour of basil and lime’s signature acidity. The first course arrived soon after our drinks were served.

Drinkception: Having “The Pansodan” at “The Pansodan”

Open until the end of September, “The Pansodan” also offers an expansive breakfast taster menu on weekends, which is composed of more than six taster dishes and bottomless champagne. For those looking to broaden their taste palettes, Ivan Pun’s “The Pansodan” is the way to go!

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