Biking around Bagan in the heat and on sandy road could really drain some energy, I tell ya. So eating right is a must while we’re there for a couple of days. And by eating right, I mean yummy and not too pricey. Here are a list of restaurants we dined in in Bagan.
1. Queen Restaurant.
Located on the side of Nyaung U main road, You won't miss it especially during night time. Queen restaurant is lit with lanterns hung from the tree branches, making it very attractive to tourists, in this case, us and many others. The lanterns weren't compensating for anything. The food, service and facilities were all good. We spent 11,700 kyats in total, having a spaghetti aglio e olio, a tuna salad, and a set of Myanmar food. They also have steaks and Chinese food, among others, with quite a wide range of prices. A can of Myanmar beer costs 1300 kyats and a glass of wine (I don't know what kind) costs only 1,500 kyats.
Of all the restaurants we dined in in Bagan, Queen Restaurant is the only one with free wifi. They also have an internet 'cafe' that provides computers you could use for some fee.
2. The Library.
The exterior of this Italian restaurant really stand out from the rest on Nyaung U road. It didn't need lanterns to attract us, just an all-white facade that looked very modern and classic at the same time (am I making any sense?). Turns out, The Library restaurant was only operating for 3 days when we came. That explains the fact that there weren't many people dining there. The food - we had a pizza and ravioli for 10,000 kyats in total - was delicious. The staff was nice and super polite, they just weren't quick enough. We had a little chat with the chef, an Italian who's there to train the Burmese staff in between his job in Bangkok, while he was making the pizza at the outside kitchen.
"The restaurant is very nice," I told him.
"Yes, the restaurant is very nice, but service is zero. I mean, where's your water?" he said, looking (angrily) for the waiters.
Well, If the service improves soon, The Library could be in any guide book's top choices in no time.
3. Nation Restaurant.
The reason why we chose to have lunch here was because it's located right across the dusty festival diner that tried to rip us off. The restaurant looked decent enough, comfortable enough for a lunch on a super hot and sweaty afternoon. The fried vermicelli and fried rice with chicken tasted alright, reminded me of the similar dishes we have in Indonesia, only a bit more oily. Our total spend there was about 3,400 kyats. A great place to go thrifty on food. Also located on Nyaung U road, across the Shwezigon area, Nation restaurant also has a shop corner that sells snacks to soaps.
4. Star Beam Bistro
A recommendation in Trip Advisor and Wiki Travel, this restaurant deserves it. Located north of Ananda Phaya, one of the most important temples in Bagan, Star Beam is only 5 minutes (max) by bike from the main gate of Old Bagan. We had a fish curry, chicken cashew nuts, green papaya salad and steamed rice for a total of 11,000 kyats. The restaurant is semi open-aired with leafy surrounding, being one out of many restaurants in the area. If you're following the main Nyaung U road to the Old Bagan, you shouldn't miss the obvious sign to Star Beam on the left side of the road.
The staff is friendly and really helpful. They even act as “human faucet” to replace the one on the wash basin. A staff would pour water from a bowl to your hands, squeeze out the liquid soap, and then pour water again to your hands over the basin. And you're all set to dine!
5. Moon vegetarian restaurant.
Moon restaurant is exactly next to the Star Beams. It has a motto "Be kind to animals" as it is a vegetarian restaurant. That probably explains the bird nests they have hanging from the trees at the entrance. As for the food, well.. I am a meat lover, but I can enjoy non-meat dishes if they're cooked in certain way. And let's just say that the menu we had at Moon didn't quite cut it for us. The tofu was too soft and the texture resembled fish meat a little too much, the tomato salad and mixed veggie was too soury. I had all that in a menu called Myanmar set. So I don't know what makes Moon restaurant a recommended pick in Lonely Planet. Maybe the greek salad? The pasta? Who knows. But the total of 6,200 kyats surely made us happy. (The western food is usually more expensive, though.)
6. Aye Yeik Thar Yar restaurant
This is where most Aung Mingalar guesthouse guests would dine at least once, like us. The reason is none other than because it is located exactly next to the guesthouse. Plus, the food is good, if not alright. And they have a wide range of food, from Burmese to Italian. Nothing special about the place, but they have caricatures of local famous people hanging on the wall - something to look at when waiting for your food delivered to your table. The fried noodle and fried rice we ordered were in really big portions, totaling at about 5,000 kyats.
*forgot to take any pictures of the restaurant.. I was too hungry and tired, I guess :P
7. Eden BBB Restaurant
We picked the BBB Restaurant because it appeared to have something that we needed after a long bike ride in the sun: a comfy place and preferrably ice cream. Turns out, they do have ice cream in the menu. Too bad they ran out of it.. *sob* And after quite a number of Burmese local dishes, which in general were a bit too sour and salty for my liking, I needed a more familiar taste. I picked a prawn burger with fries, and Diyan followed to order a burger because buegers is one of the cheapest menu in the restaurant :P They charge 3,500 kyats for a portion of burger and fries, and 7,000-8,000 kyats for a portion of fried rice.
The service was moderately quick and helpful, the waiter gladly told me how their sauce was made. Which reminds me, that it's pretty creative of them to serve the traditional sour and salty soya sauce (mixed with garlic, chili, sugar and vinegar) as a dip for the potato fries, aside to the ketchup option. And I must say, they match!
Another special feature is the stage in the garden, where a traditional musician and singer performed on our visit, giving a nicer ambience to our - turned out to be - romantic dinner ;)
8. Pyi Sone Restaurant
Another one on the row of restaurants on Nyaung U Road, Pyi Sone doesn’t have much to offer compared the others. The food and the place are just alright, the wifi didn’t work at all although they also run an Internet café, and the price isn’t as cheap as Nation restaurant. We spent 6,300 kyats for two portions of rice with chicken cooked with dried chili and green chili. The reason why chose this place, other than because I wanted to try a different restaurant, was because it was halfway between That Bin Yu temple and our guesthouse Aung Mingalar, and I was so hungry and needed to use their bathroom!
9. Sarabha Restaurant
Located only about 200 meters outside the main entrance of Old Bagan, Sarabha restaurant cooled us off after some temple visits and bike riding on dry and sandy streets of Bagan. We had a deep fried noodle with prawn and veggies, and a grilled fish with steamed rice. It's the best food I've had in this Bagan trip! The service, cleanliness, and ambience were all good, too! I totally recommend this place :)