• Faye Bradley

Club Rangoon is Hong Kong’s First Gourmet Burmese Restaurant

With its ever-expanding culinary scene, Hong Kong is at no shortage of international cuisine to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a scrumptious vegetarian Indian meal or French fine dining indulgence, the city offers it all. One flavour which hasn’t yet been tapped into, however, is gourmet Burmese cuisine, a region known for its clean ingredients and cooking methods. Finally opening its doors in July, Club Rangoon is Hong Kong’s first gourmet Burmese restaurant. We stopped by the sophisticated hideout, nestled on Aberdeen Street in Soho, to try the delectable weekend brunch menu.

club rangoon mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


Location


Situated on Soho’s Aberdeen Street in Central, Club Rangoon takes the space which formerly housed Bindaas Bar & Kitchen. The space is slightly tucked away and features two entrances—one which leads straight to the bar and restaurant, the other with an outdoor drinking area on the steps. When you enter, it’s pretty obvious what the chosen colour scheme is—a grande, emerald green. There’s an immediate sense of royalty, and jade green is native to Northern Burma. The restaurant is furnished with plush booth sofas and stylish chairs in the main dining room. One of the most unique and memorable elements is the wall display. Photos of the Burmese-born restaurant owner, Nelson Htoo, and his childhood, with images of Burmese culture and tradition, are hung on the walls.

club rangoon mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


The Food


The dishes at Club Rangoon are inspired by founder Nelson Htoo’s fond childhood memories. Helmed by Brazilian Chef Karisa Cheque, who learned the recipes from Htoo’s mother, using passed-down recipes, and from spending a year abroad in Burma to learn the traditions and cooking techniques. The menu features a mix of small plates and large plates—but sharing is the main gist, as they do in Burma. We tried the Hta Min Wine by Club Rangoon (HK$700 for two people), a brunch menu available all day on weekends. The set is based on the traditional Burmese dining experience, which is typically a communal one. Rice is complemented with fish, soup, salad, vegetables, and relishes, all cooked in different ways. Thus, we were able to try 12 of the traditional Burmese staples—a welcoming introduction to the versatile cuisine.

club rangoon mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


There’s no doubt about it—the introductory Lahpet Thoke, was a winning feat. Known as the tea leaf salad, the refreshing dish takes a spin on classic Western salads which are typically less flavourful than Asian specialties. The salad is infused with a strong black tea, giving it a slightly tangy taste, matched perfectly with the crunch of the fresh vegetables and toasted sesame seeds.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

paratha club rangoon

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


Next came the Potato Samosa. The crisp pastry texture contrasted with the mashed potato, and the dish wasn’t spicy, unlike a lot of Indian samosas. It came with warm paratha, a familiar classic.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


The Mohinga was a very unique dish as well. Although it may look familiar—think ramen, phø or laksa—it’s unlike any of those tastes. The broth is mild, allowing you to taste the aromatic lemongrass and coriander at every sip. Mohinga is an essential dish in Burmese culture and is even said to be a national dish. It features rice noodle and fish soup, with a melting half-boiled egg.

club rangoon brunch

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


The main part of the course is the sharing display, which features Chicken Broth and Gourd Soup, Balachaung (dried shrimp relish), Roasted Sea Bream with Tamarind Sauce, Wat Thani (Burmese pork curry), Kyat Thar Hin (Burmese-style chicken curry), Village Style Potato and Egg Curry, and Steamed Rice. Each dish had its own distinct flavour, and I was intrigued to find out that Burmese cuisine—as my first time to try it—didn’t taste anything like its neighbouring countries. The spice is mild, meaning the focus is on the texture of the meats and the ingredients infused in the sauces to make it as scrumptious as it is. The village-style potato and the Burmese pork curry are standouts.

club rangoon

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


For dessert, we had a bit of an East-meets-West sweet treat. The Burmese Tea Ice Cream with Banana Crumble is surprisingly not too sweet and showcases a delicate final dish that is perfect to satisfy sweet tooth cravings at the end of the meal.

club rangoon mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


The Drink


Bar Manager Jack Byrne is well-known in Hong Kong’s bar scene, previously leading the bar teams at Hugger Mugger and Meats of the Pirata Group. He also has experience in the Australian F&B industry, where he got his first taste of it when working at The Hyatt in Melbourne. The drinks menu at Club Rangoon are just as important as the food.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


Cocktails are an iconic feat to the newly-opened restaurant, which serves delectable innovations, inspired by Burmese ingredients and culture. Highlights include the Rangoon Club (HK$100), comprising a turmeric-infused gin-base, with banana syrup, citric acid, and Capi ginger beer. Ode to Dawei (HK$130) is also a must, using pandan-infused vodka, fresh honeydew juice, falernum syrup, and lime juice.

club rangoon exterior mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times


Overall


Just when you thought Hong Kong has covered all the cuisines, Club Rangoon hits you with a pleasant surprise. For those who haven’t tried Burmese cuisine, be prepared for a unique flavour, which doesn’t resemble too closely to any of its Southeast Asian neighbourhoods. The restaurant is inviting and warm, boasting a chic atmosphere thanks to its elegant interiors, and jade green colour scheme. Food is very reasonably priced, and guests can even add on free-flow to the weekend brunch for an additional HK$190 for alcoholic drinks, or HK$120 for non-alcoholic drinks. Amidst the current pandemic, it’s encouraging to see new businesses cropping up and making their successful debuts as the city situation improves—and what better way to celebrate, than to indulge in fine cuisine?


Club Rangoon Hong Kong, 33 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2503 3077, clubrangoon.com.hk