bagan restaurant in strathfield

There are 14 of us for dinner tonight. Fifteen minutes on the train from Central Station takes us westward to Strathfield, where Sydney’s only Burmese restaurant Bagan is located. It is a short stroll to the restaurant along The Boulevard, the main vein of this suburb, brimming with numerous restaurants and shops.

The neon light blazing ‘Bagan’ outside draws us into the restaurant. The walls are chocolate with tapestry and images of scenes from Mandalay and Bagan. Burmese-style wood carvings contrast with the modern bar area tiled in sleek black. The dark wood tables and chairs give the restaurant a relaxed café-style atmosphere.

Except Christopher, all are new to Burmese food. I take the responsibility of ordering, selecting what I consider typically Burmese. We forgo the starter as it is mainly fritters and fish cakes which are all too familiar. I choose a selection of thote/salads: tea leaf salad (lahpet thote), pennywort salad (myin-kwa-ywet thote), samosa salad and spring roll salad. These are suitable for vegetarian, dressed with aromatic garlic oil and roasted chickpea powder though I do like my thote with fish sauce and plenty of kick.

Goat curry (hseik thar sipyan) with Indian-inspired spices and pork curry (wet thar sipyan) with the distinct flavour of Burmese-style pickled mango are robust, comforting fare. I am pleased to see a suitable amount of sauce in the curries – the best bit of any sipyan is undoubtedly the wonderful intense flavourful sauce though some may find a little oily. I have no qualms about eating good oil and use only peanut oil in my cooking.

Sour roselle leaves with bamboo shoots (chin baung kyaw) cuts the richness of the meat curries as does the thote. In Burma, we generally have a fish dish and I choose hisla with tomato and onions (nga thalout), which are cut into bite-sized pieces, meltingly delicious and light. It lacks the bones which can be eaten, perhaps catering to fussier palates. I do love hisla which is a freshwater fish that has similar flavour to sardines.

A condiment of crispy dried shrimp (ngapi kyaw) completes this meal though a soup would not go amiss. Plenty of rice is served in silver metal containers, topped up promptly. The service is attentive without being intrusive and the inexpensive menu and portion size works as tapas-style eating.

Dessert is left to the individual. Most go for ice cream with Asian flavours such as black sesames, green tea and taro. A few who are more inquisitive order durian shake, avocado shake and faluda.

I hope I have chosen well to introduce Burmese food to everyone. Christopher points out quite rightly that we are enthusiastic eaters and have forgotten to photograph the food. I would like to come back, not only to photograph but also to delve further into the menu. Fish noodle soup (mohingar) and coconut noodles soup (ohn nyot khaut swe) beckons me to return. I shall promise to photograph the food next time.

Shop 4/41 The Boulevard
Strathfield
Sydney NSW 2135
Australia
Tel: +61 (0)2 8746 0666
Tue-Sun 11am-10pm


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15 Comments

  1. Lee on February 10, 2009 at 3:00 am

    I ate here and have to say it was pretty tasty. It’s the only place in Sydney where you can get full-on authentic Burmese food. A lot of Thai restaurants actually have Burmese chefs but are forced to cook the more known food of Thailand. I love the mildness, and fragrant tastes of Burmese food – full of lemon grass and ginger…

    At Bagan, we ate a huge selection salads and curries, none of which I’d tried before. Overall I was very impressed by the food and friendly service. However, the chicken curry, as good as it was, wasn’t as tasty as the Burmese chicken curry on my website!

    http://whatyouhavingforyourtea.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/burmese-chicken-curry/

    Lee



    • Cho on February 10, 2009 at 3:25 am

      Thanks for the link, Lee
      – Cho



  2. Virgo1314 on February 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Good job Cho on the book and visit to Sydney’s Bagan restaurant. Just checked Lee’s website and discovered his Burmese Chicken Curry recipe is not authentic. I’ve just posted some comments. Bagan is the only Burmese restaurant we Burmese Sydneysiders have at the moment, There are some weekends only Burmese restaurants in Blacktown and Toongabbie, west of Sydney.



  3. amy on May 2, 2009 at 6:40 am

    weekend ones in blacktown and toongabbie? please disclose the locations! would very much enjoy to visit them when i visit there. However, if anyone can either tell me where i can find a burmese place in brisbane – or open one for me – would be very happy x



    • Cho on May 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

      Hi Amy
      I’ll also like to know where is Blacktown and Toongabbie! Can anyone help?
      – Cho



  4. Thaw on July 26, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Is there any Burmese restaurants in Melbourne? Can anyone help?



    • Cho on July 30, 2009 at 12:30 am

      Hi Thaw
      There’s a couple I’ve found but have not visited. Let me know what they are like you happen to go there –
      Burmese House
      303 Bridge Road
      Melbourne 3121
      Australia

      Burmese Kitchen
      356 St Georges Road Fitzroy North
      Victoria 3068
      Australia



  5. Dianne on August 20, 2009 at 9:33 am

    If anyone is from Western Australia there is a small Burmese restaurant in North Perth called ‘Burma Blue’. It is on Charles St .
    Very nice authentic food too!
    It is not a big place – so it’s best to call and book a seat or be happy to take away… wish it was bigger…
    They make a lot of homestyle recipes… Mmmmm!
    Just wish they were a little closer!



  6. Heather Kepski on November 28, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Does anyone know where you can buy dried lablab beans in Sydney please?



  7. Pisi on June 30, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    There is another Burmese restaurant in Parramatta now Guys. It’s called Kambozza Burmese Cuisine, 125 Church Street, Parramatta. A real Burmese taste. Sould try.



    • Cho on July 15, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Hi Pisi
      Thanks. It’s great to know there are more Burmese restaurants in Sydney. I shall head out to Parramatta soon and try them.
      – Cho



  8. Sally on September 8, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Hi,

    Just wondering where I can get some fermented tea leaves in Sydney? I am dying without La Phet thote!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks

    Sal



  9. shwe on October 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Another Burmese restaurants in Sydney called “Golden Burma” Shop 4/36 Derbyshire Ave, Toongabbie, NSW 2146 ph. 96315545. Here’s the website link “www.goldenburma.shutterfly.com”. The guy who running the shop is previous owner of burmese shop in Auburn.



  10. Nadia on November 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Thanks to your review Cho, I realised there was a Burmese restaurant in Sydney. It was so good to finally get some Burmese food in my system after ages! Especially the La Phat (pickled tea leaves) salad and Mohingar.. Bliss 🙂



  11. Max Soe on January 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Hey Sally, you can get La Phet thote in packets from Bagan.