Looking out to the Yangon riverfront, the street housing the regal Strand Hotel is full of historical and aesthetic value. You start with the old Telegraph Office and make your way past iconic landmarks like the Port Authority Office and High Court. Only now, there’s one more stop to make: the colonial-era red brick building, formerly the Bank of India, that now houses The Pansodan.
Have you ever stepped into a temple in Myanmar? Because typically, one of the first things you notice are the gleaming decorations of gilded gold. In that aspect, The Pansodan is very much the same. From the ceiling, capped with glinting gold leaf, down to the cold chevron marble tile flooring, every inch in the restaurant is designed to take customers back to a bygone age.
Really, we wouldn’t expect much less, since one of the restaurant’s investors is prominent local interior designer Mya Myitzu. Another is the director of Pun + Projects, which operates Rau Ram and Port Autonomy, two popular lifestyle establishments in the city. And clearly, a lot of care and money was spent in creating the turn-of-the-century interior.
Lacquered rattan furnishings and fancy modern lights are framed by artisanal elephant wallpaper (The Pansodan’s logo) that’s handpainted by local designer Laura Cheung. There are also tall arched windows that span two stories, wood-panel stairwells, decorative columns and wrought iron awning that harken back to the private social clubs of the 20s. Only now, anyone can appreciate all this beauty.
I went through the wood-panel stairwell to a table on the quiet mezzanine and lounged in a soft, oversized chair to watch the comings and goings of Yangon’s hottest new restaurant. The double-height main floor is bright and airy with a mirrored bar, marble tabletops, wood-panel walls and stand-out symmetric floor tiles.
The Pansodan was conceptualised to champion Burmese culture, and Myitzu, having been born a Yangon girl that grew up in the 1990s, is well-positioned to help lead Myanmar’s surging design industry.
Her work can be described as traditional with modern elements, and she attributes much of her inspiration to classic local designs, such as Burmese motifs and patterns from ethnic tribes like the Shan and the Shin.
Still, there’s no doubt it’s a fancy place, designed to compete with other bougie dining spots in the area, like Gekko, Sofaer & Co, and Rangoon Tea House — incidentally, the latter is also one of Myitzu’s earlier projects.
Whether or not The Pansodan manages to supersede them waits to be seen, but for now, this Burmese brasserie shines for what it is: a gorgeous beacon of design on Yangon’s most celebrated food street.
The Pansodan is located at 106 Pansodan Rd, Lower Middle Block, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Myanmar, +95 94 4263 1066. Open daily 10.30am – 11pm.