Where to eat and drink: Dawei

Dawei: Where to eat and drink

Dawei offers a pretty good selection of restaurants for a small town. Highlights are Pearl Eikari, especially if you can get a garden table, for dinner, Diamond Crown’s rooftop for a sundowner and awesome view, MK5 for a coffee break and Meik Shwe tea shop for morning rotis and tea.

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Pearl or Pale Eikari is the place to eat in town and was packed every time we went there. Tables are liberally dispersed on a long lawn out front plus there’s inside seating in an open but roofed interior. The food – a mixture of Burmese, Thai and Chinese cuisine - is good, though not spectacular. It’s not the cheapest around -- dishes are 4,000 to 6,000 kyat, a whole fish 9,000 -- but service is excellent and rapid and the 700 kyat draught beer seems to be a big draw in a town that was undergoing a severe alcohol clampdown by Dawei’s finest when we visited in early 2016. Plenty of eateries had large Myanmar Beer signs plastered across their frontages but no beer and only hotel restaurants were serving alcohol. Eikari, with a small on-site guesthouse and large under-construction hotel was therefore exempt.

At the curry shop. : Mark Ord.
At the curry shop. Photo: Mark Ord

Other hotel options include the confusingly named Sky View, atop Diamond Crown, and Golden Guesthouse’s Skyview – both sixth floor – and while the latter serves up very good quality dishes the former’s not bad either and less expensive. Of the respective dining and drinking areas, we found Diamond Crown’s much more welcoming and it has unobstructed all round views. Prices are lower for their extensive menu of Thai, Burmese and Chinese dishes, with even a couple of spicy Kachin options available. Dishes are 3,000-5,000 kyat.

We also found a couple of very good restaurants down Bogyoke Road: Golden Dragon and Joy House. The former, on the Niban end of the street, dishes up delicious and cheap Chinese-style noodle and rice dishes -- you certainly wouldn’t go there for the ambience. Shabby would be a polite description but full marks to the chef and for great Sino-Burmese food at around 2,000 kyat a dish we were grateful to the tuk tuk driver who recommended it. Joy, at the other end of the street just before it meets Arzarni, is an altogether much cosier spot. The owner spent 26 years working in Thailand and serves up very authentic versions of all the Thai classics. With dishes going from 1,500 to 3,000 kyat we can see this place doing very well when more travellers hit Dawei.

As far as tea and coffee shops go, MK5 on Arzarni is an interesting spot with a kind of 60s American diner design. It serves up a surprisingly good bakery selection as well as teas, freshly brewed coffees and juices and smoothies. Along with the cakes and brownies, pizzas and burgers (latter both Burmese style!) they have an interesting choice of sandwiches including fruit salad ones. Chicken cheeseburgers go for 1,500 kyat, brownies 300 and a juice 700. Dream Journey, another coffee shop and bakery, is just by the Shwe Maung Hotel and comes recommended by locals but we can’t vouch for it as they were closed the day we passed.

Curry shop hosts. : Mark Ord.
Curry shop hosts. Photo: Mark Ord

For a more traditional style, Meik Shwe is an Indian-run tea shop by the mosque on Niban Road. They have friendly English-speaking staff and while offering snacks throughout the day also do rotis for breakfast and biryanis on Sundays. They open early for the adjacent mosque trade.

As far as a drink goes, Diamond Crown’s friendly staff and great views get our vote with perhaps a draught stout on the lawn at Pearl Eikari once the sun’s gone down. Skyview at Golden Guesthouse has a more sophisticated and expensive menu but is your best bet if you fancy a cocktail. As we mentioned our visit coincided with a clampdown by Dawei police and while joints like Joy House normally offer draught beer, only hotel restaurants were selling alcohol. We’ve no idea how this will pan out.

Dream Journey Cafe: 661 Pakauku Kyaung St, Dawei; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Golden Dragon (Shwe Nagar) Restaurant: Bogyoke Rd nearr corner of Niban Rd, Dawei; open daily 09:00-21:00.
Joy House: Bogyoke Rd near the junction with Arzarni Rd, Dawei; open dailiy 10:00-22:00.
MK5: 8 Arzarni Rd near junction with Ye Rd, Dawei; open daily 06:00-22:00.
Mate Shwe Tea House: Niban Rd, next to the mosque, Dawei; open daily 04:00-21:00.
Pale (or Pearl) Eikari Restaurant: 572 Ye Yeik Tha St, Dawei; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Sky View Restaurant: Top floor of Diamond Crown, Ye Rd, Dawei; open daily 10:00-21:00.
Skyview Restaurant: Top floor Golden Guesthouse, Myotedwin St, Dawei; open daily 08:00-22:00.

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Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.