As you stroll the dusty sidewalks of Yangon and skip past the never ending traffic it is hard to assume that amongst the decaying beauty of Yangon city you could find yourself in a bar drinking cocktails almost as if you had never arrived.
Well, at least this is what the new venues remind me of. In January for my first visit to Myanmar I would never have pictured myself with an old fashioned clasped in my hand.
It was confusing walking into The Lab bar and taking in the innovation that you wouldn’t have expected for Myanmar but the best thing about it all is the entrepreneurial integrity. It is something to add to the city and not something that will destroy its culture.
To get an insight into the background and the faces of this venue I went to talk to the owners of The Lab and Mojo so you too can also be tempted to visiting, if you haven’t already, the venues and in turn experiencing the delights that they have to offer.
The low hanging lights and the high-seated tables the wall-to-wall air conditioners closes you in to the conversation you were wanting to draw yourself in. The rustic bar and the open character that it permits is warming, a great escape from the heat of the finished day.
A small hole in the wall restaurant that focuses on local sourced tapas dishes and the largest range of professionally made cocktails; it is something that you must experience with friends.
The Lab is the brainchild of two childhood friends, Amine Zlaoui and Raouf Baccouche.
“We started to think of the concept and wanted to start something different,” says Raouf.
The Lab is aimed at locals and expats, tourists are warmly welcomed but don’t make up the numbers. “We designed this for expats, people who are living here for 2-3 years and those who are staying here long-term,” says Amine.
The three times that I’ve been to The Lab it has been busy and buzzing with hoards of people eating and drinking, it is closed on Monday because everybody needs a day off somewhere down the line.
“You have a piece of paper and a pen in front of you and you say, ‘Ok, let’s open a bar.’ That’s how you start,” says Amine. That is the truth you want to hear about a venue. These two are there the six days that The Lab is open, now that is passion.
A last resort is the best way to describe Mojo, not because you wouldn’t want to go there, rather you know that it is open late and you will be able to dance with a drink surrounded by people who are in exactly the same mood you’re in.
They have pre planned your nights they cater to those of different tastes, whether you’re into blues, dance or satisfying your music creativity on a tiresome Sunday evening.
It has been a busy first year for Jean Curci and his partners, setting up with the downstairs area that caters for people coming in for their Vietnamese and French focused and electric atmosphere.
“I was teaching my chef how to cook French food and every time there was a cheese platter my friend went to the kitchen to prepare it, so we started from level zero,” says Jean.
Soon after the upstairs section opened and that is when the dancing and nightlife chaos started, offering a balcony and an always-crowded dance floor with international acts performing for locals, expats and tourists.
“Tomorrow I have a DJ from Shanghai coming the day after we have a DJ from Singapore, which is pretty new for the country.”
With Mojo’s first birthday arriving on the 8th of November they have your week planned out with an event occurring every night.
“We are doing our one year birthday bash party from the 3rd of November until the 8th of November, so we’ll have an event everyday to celebrate and to give back to the community and the customers.”
Here is but a small piece of the two venues that are really kicking off in Yangon at the moment, as the country emerges into the rest of the world so does the option of having a exciting and grand night out in Yangon.
So hopefully the passion that is put into these two venues creates a vortex and sucks in more likeminded individuals who will continue with this trend, set up a nice community and eventually build a nice area for all of us to enjoy.
Address for The Lab: 70/A Shwegondaing Road (on the corner of Shwegondaing and Kabar Aye Pagoda Rd), Yangon.
Mojo: 135, Inya Road (near the corner of Dhammazedi Road), Yangon.