Walking The Earth was created as a creative expedition to shine a light on people worth helping and places worth saving around the world. Recently, our stories from Kenya and Greece have been featured on Longevity and someone asked us about restaurants we had run into while on our journey that we would recommend.
Well,first, I have some pretty good guidelines and rules about what I think makes a great restaurant. While I are not averse to dressing up and spending money on a great meal, when I have my walking shoes on, I actually prefer restaurants that are –
Authentic and local – I don’t travel to eat with other Americans to be honest. I am constantly searching for, and walking the extra block for, the restaurant that is just a touch more authentic – ideally family-owned, with amazing food and value. I’m not into white table clothes in Phnom Penh for example, when there are so many amazing local places.
Value – by definition, these places usually offer great value but ever so often, I find the prices seem a bit high for where I am and am suspicious that my tourist nature means I am paying a bit more than I should.
The Last Night Test – I recently spent five nights in Phnom Penh. I ate at nice restaurants, street carts, with Cambodian friends and overlooking the river. I always then decide to go back to my favorite spot for that last night – where I go – if it is good again, is usually my favorite spot in the city. One Phnom Penh restaurant did make the top five of the year, but first:
Let’s head to Bagan Myanmar, Old Bagan to be more specific to my first favorite restaurant of the year, Be Kind To Animals The Moon.
If I had been writing this in 2012, or 2013, or 2016, it would have made the list as well.
Be Kind To Animals (I still don’t get the Moon part and I have asked a bunch, in English and in Burmese) is my favorite restaurant in Burma. It is a vegetarian delight where the owner, a woman by the named of Zinmia, and that in and of itself is remarkable by the way – there are very few women business owners in Burma – creates the best vegetarian food in the world in her restaurant justoff the main square – and in the shadows of the famous Ananda Temple.
On this recent trip, I had Coconut Pineapple Curry – it was ungodly good. As were the fresh spring rolls that they offered – the guacamole was strong as usual (and guacamole is relatively rare considering there are avocados everywhere in Burma when I was there, huge, fresh and ripe.) Her traditional Burmese salads, tomato, tea leaf, all incredible.
In addition to amazing food, Zinmia has crafted a delightful little restaurant – especially at night with lights hanging in the trees and candles on the tables – even though you are just off the main road and in the corner of the square which can get dusty, once you are under those lights and relaxing with the amazing food there it is just a special spot. She has recently opened a second location in New Bagan, down a side street from the Bogoyoke Aung San statue. The food is strong and the setting is even more magical as it is greener and more isolated than the original.
I was in Burma this past trip with Longevity as part of the work around my book “Floating: What I Found When I Went Looking For My Father.”
We ate five meals in Bagan – four were at Be Kind To Animals and no one complained once. One more Burma restaurant made the list this year as well. Here’s a hint.