As every seasoned South East Asian traveler knows, there comes a point when you need a break from curry, fried rice, and street meat; from time to time, you simply crave the tastes and textures and ingredients of back home.
Lucky for us, many expats and locals have created cafes and restaurants to satiate our tastebud’s homesick desires.
And, many of these cafes double as nonprofits or training centers; they provide jobs and internships to locals who would otherwise not have promising professional opportunities.
One of these cafes, located in the city of Yangon (Myanmar), is called Yangon Bakehouse. Located a short taxi ride from Shwedagon Pagoda (about 10 minutes / 3,000 kyat — just tell the driver you want to go to Pearl Condo), the Bakehouse is a must-eat for a variety of reasons shall you find yourself in the capital.
For one, the food is, simply put, amazing. SE Asia can be a bit harsh on the stomach; everything is fried, the hygiene is, at times, questionable, and fish sauce is used in obscene quantities. Therefore, finding a place like Yangon Bakehouse, that uses fresh and mostly organic ingredients, is a savior.
They have healthy breakfast options, like whole wheat egg wraps and homemade yogurt with muesli; scrumptious lunch options, like pear and goat cheese salads and roasted vegetable sandwiches; and decadent dessert options, like pumpkin cheesecake and banana walnut muffins.
Second, the coffee is fresh; this makes for a nice break from the Nescafé or the infamous ‘three-in-one’. The lattes and espresso are expertly brewed, and will satisfy any caffeine cravings you may have. They also have fresh tea, as well as healthy juices.
Finally, Yangon Bakehouse is a social training center that provides wonderful opportunities to women; revenue from the cafe benefits the local population. The women who work there commit to ten months of work and training at the Bakehouse (with a reasonable living wage) while they learn about the ins and outs of culinary work. After, the cafe assists them in finding work in the hospitality field.
When you travel through a country as beautiful as Myanmar, the inclination to give back is strong; that alone is great justification for a visit to the Bakehouse.
Similar enterprises (that seek to train and empower the local population) can be found all throughout SE Asia. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
Pearl Condo, Block C, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road
59 Van Mieu
Chiang Mai, Thailand
166 Maneenoparat Road
Friends the Restaurant
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
#215, Street 13
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
#74, Street 174
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Between Wat (Pagoda) Polanka & Catholic Church, #8A,B Phum Slokram
Sovann Sakor, Kompong Kandal
7 Makara Street
#78 , Ban Inpeng Vat Chanh Tha, Vientiane