Contemporary pan-Asian restaurant Burma Social on Tras Street draws culinary influences from countries around Myanmar for an elevated take on Burmese cuisine.
Burmese cuisine, it must be said, does not quite have the culinary cachet that its Thai or Vietnamese Southeast Asia cousins have in Singapore’s dining scene especially in the fine-dining space. But Burma Social, a modern pan-Asian restaurant newly-opened on Tras Street, aims to change that.
Burma Social takes over the spot where award-winning Italian restaurant Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare used to be. The three-storied shophouse space itself has been converted into a tasteful contemporary space, borrowing many design elements from Myanmar’s ethnically diverse and Buddhism-centric culture. Ornate bells, gilded lamps, intricate wood carvings, embroidered cloths, and traditional lacquerware complete the aesthetic across the different floors. On the first floor is an alfresco lounge and bar, while level two is its main dining room. The third, currently still undergoing refurbishment, is slated to house private dining rooms.
Burma Social offers up what it calls a ‘Feast of Six Kingdoms’, weaving a story of Myanmar’s culinary heritage as influenced by its neighbouring countries of China, Thailand, India, Laos, and Bangladesh. Expect a full-on gastronomic journey of traditional Burmese flavours with a modern touch.
There’s Raw Coconut Milk & Broccolini Adorned with Flying Fish Roe, which we think could be traditional khow suey reinvented as an appetising milky broth but without the noodles. Like Vietnam and Thailand, salads are a big thing in Myanmarese cooking. Both the Papaya & Mango Thoke (Ye Thu Kyun) and Laphet Nay Wai Thoke – Tea Leaf are excellent. The former is similar to Thai mango or papaya salad, but comes topped with beautifully poached prawns. The latter, of course, is Burma Social’s take on the classic Burmese tea leaf salad. Here the fermented tea leaves are tossed with a variety of other ingredients – crushed nuts, anchovies, and more – for a punchy salad that’s altogether an umami-filled flavour bomb.
Also worth ordering is the Crispy Tohu Jaw, a dish of frittered tofu made from ground chickpeas that’s drizzled with a robust sweet and savoury jaggery-based sauce. Hnin Si’s Steam Puzon features steamed cakes of ground fish and prawn – much like our otak-otak, but without the spice – topped with a chewy rice wrapper (eat with the accompanying chilli oil for a bigger flavour hit).
Then there’s Mohinga Noodle Symphony, which serves up Burma’s unofficial national dish Japanese tsukemen style where you dip the traditional rice noodles into a rich and aromatic creamy fish broth. One mouthful of this makes you want to visit The Golden Land.
Burma Social has an interesting cocktail programme that incorporates Asian ingredients and flavours into its drinks. Pepper Fashioned is an Old Fashioned infused with pepper, for example, while Jewel of India is an Indian take on a classic Manhattan with notes of saffron, cumin, and pomegranate. We did enjoy the thirst-quenching qualities of Ginger Seduction, which tastes like hybrid Dark & Stormy and Moscow Mule.
You’ll need to fork out at Burma Social; a few are likely to baulk at the price of a fine-dining version of mohinga, for example. But dining here is experiential, mystical even. More importantly, it may just thrust Burmese cuisine into the Singapore gastronomic consciousness.
Address 34 Tras St, Singapore 079026 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 12am on Mondays to Fridays; 6pm to 12am on Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 6016 9140