Gui Mi Restaurant – Authentic Yunnan-Burmese Cooking

Gui Mi Restaurant Yunnan Burmese Cuisine

WHO: Gui Mi Restaurant (闺蜜小吃店)

WHERE: No. 71, 19th Street (Lower Block), Latha Township, Yangon. Tel: +95-9456909804.

Spend long enough in South East Asia, and you learn to instinctively avoid the Lads on Tour and the trustafarians here to ‘find themselves’. For Yangon, that means avoiding 19th Street and anyone still wearing their Thai fisherman pants deep here in longyi territory. So consider me impressed that only 200m from hostel ground-zero we found regional Chinese Yunnan cooking as good as māmā would make.

Gui Mi Restaurant ignores their neighbours on the other side of Maha Bandula Rd to offer some reassuringly authentic food choices. Operated by two Chinese sisters from Mitkyina not far from Yunnan Province (the province that touches Shan State in Myanmar’s north east), Gui Mi focuses on the quality of the food and the warmth of their service in a tight and functional space easily overlooked by those headed to the bars only 200m north.

Gui Mi Restaurant Double Fried PorkDouble Fried Pork (回锅肉)

After starting with a clear soup with egg and fennel dumplings, the food was quick to appear, including the best example of Chinese double-fried pork I’ve ever had. Delightfully savoury and with great mouth feel, the pork was cut generously, and the chilies had flavour without being overpowering. Over well-prepared rice, it was a great start.

The steamed egg with minced pork, while not much to look at, was referred to several times as being “just like mum used to make”. My imaginary Chinese mother agrees. The watercress was cooked well too. Not overcooked, it retained crunch and had strong garlic and chilli flavours, and thankfully wasn’t too oily, a common complaint here.

guimi fried fish chilli tomato pasteFried Fish with Chilli Tomato Paste (绘鱼)

But the highlight was the fried fish, appearing at first more like a piece of pork belly than something from the ocean. Topped with a tomato, green chilli, ginger, fermented bean and garlic paste, it was first deep fried with an excellent crust, perhaps enhanced with a thin rice flour-based batter. Granted, there were bones, but the meat fell away easily, and there was plenty of it. It was a powerful dish, something I would never had ordered off the menu if I hadn’t known about it.

Also present was a second pork and green capsicum dish, served with dried chillies. After several distinctive and flavoursome dishes, this was comparatively subtle, not quite up to the same level as the others. Service was attentive, funny, and bilingual in Mandarin and Myanmar. We’re told an English-language menu is coming.

Take note, the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, but the previously avoided bars ended up being the source of several cold Heinekens. Maybe 19th street isn’t so bad after all.

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Ben Roache.
Food Photography: Stephen Lee

Remarks from Consult-Myanmar: We have to admit that we have been selfish. There are many great restaurants in Yangon which we frequent that are small family-owned restaurants. Many are run by the different ethnic groups in Myanmar and they serve fantastic home-cooked food at a reasonable price. However, over the years we have not done much to review the restaurant on our website for fear that it would become too popular and we would not be able to get a seat next time we go to the restaurant. As a result, some have closed when the landlord increased their rent as the restaurant owners are known more for their cooking skills and authenticity than for their business or marketing skills.We are trying to make amend by starting this section on “My Favourite Restaurant”.

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