Edison must be turning in his grave.
It isn’t just the light bulbs that irk me. Located on Bogyoke Aung San Street near the corner of Thein Phyu Road, Eatfinity has all the hallmarks of a place trying too hard to be trendy. The faux-industrial décor and exposed brick wallpaper are straight out of a hipster restaurant design manual, and the kitchy drinks menu – which consists mainly of luminous syrups served in ubiquitous Mason jars – includes entire tanks of pastel milk teas.
Service is friendly and well-meaning but utterly shambolic. Since the idea of pouring my drink into a glass is evidently beyond the scope of the server’s imagination, I decide to forgo the light bulb tea altogether and order a pineapple juice instead. “Is the juice fresh?” I enquire. Confused, the server calls another server to help, who calls another server, who calls another, until an entire crowd has formed around my table. I order an Italian soda (K2000).
Fortunately, the food is not nearly as vexing. Served up by an actual Thai chef, the Thai dishes are probably as close as you get to the real deal in Yangon for the price. Seafood seems to be the specialty, and diners at the tables next to me tuck in to generous seafood platters piled high with giant shrimp, crab and squid. The curried fish cakes (K3500) are some of the best I’ve eaten – delicate and easy on the oil, without the rubbery texture common even to some of Yangon’s best Thai restaurants. My red curry (K4000) is served with such an impressive array of seafood that I have to check that it is, indeed, what I ordered. A comedic performance ensues: Managers are summoned, the kitchen is consulted and there is much examining of menus and heated discussion before, five minutes later, it is confirmed that it is, in fact, what I ordered. Of course, then they forget the rice and I go through the arduous fiasco all over again.
High-jinx aside, the classic dishes are sure to please Thai food epicures, and the “one plate with rice” menu offers a lot of bang for your kyat. Besides the extensive seafood menu, dishes include chicken with basil, tom yum, and stir-fried chicken or pork with cashew nuts. The “pad Thai with big shrimp” (K6000) is a stand-out dish: prepared with vermicelli – sans ubiquitous puddle of oil – it is fresh, fragrant and served in the traditional way with chilli, peanuts and bean sprouts on the side. I’m disappointed to learn that “shrimp” is used in the singular sense of the word; nevertheless, it is very big. The chicken or pork version is an absolute steal at only K3000.
Don’t be tempted by the desserts. My chocolate lava cake (K4000) – which presumably came from a box – is rubbery and devoid of any melting innards. The table next to me orders honey toast, an enormous slab of cake/bread topped with ice cream and syrup that is popular elsewhere in Asia but shouldn’t be. If you want to leave with your teeth, give it a miss.
But Eatfinity doesn’t give a shrimp’s bottom what I think of its restaurant: The place has only been open a few weeks and it’s already packed. Who knows – perhaps it’s the light bulbs. With few lunch options this side of the city, it’s sure to remain a popular spot even with more conventional diners. And with The Myanmar Times office just around the corner I’ll certainly be going back – though I doubt they’ll be delighted about that.