The opening of BB Cake and Coffee in Parami, a chic and spacious cake, coffee and pastry shop, is yet another indication that Myanmar’s commercial capital is creeping northwards. When BB Cakes opened on the corner or Parami Road and Myint Zu Street about four months ago, its elegant exterior instantly made it a landmark in the local area. This place is practically impossible to miss – especially at night, when it’s lit up by a warm lighting scheme that softens the edges of the white building, which is complemented by a fringe of tall palm trees and shrubbery. The gala opening even made it onto MRTV4. It’s opposite the high end salon, Stag, on Myint Zu Street, where Yangon’s male celebrities reportedly go for hair-cuts.
Step inside BB Cakes and it feels as though you’ve walked into the spread of an interior design magazine. Within three steps you’ll be greeted by one of the many female waitresses who are dressed so smartly that they resemble air hostesses. The service is prompt and efficient without being overbearing.
Cool temperatures and generously proportioned white couches paired with plump cushions make it easy to spend an entire morning or afternoon here (and there’s wifi too, though these days that almost goes without saying). There’s a lot of natural sunlight due to the expansive use of glass panels, but virtually no glare thanks to the surrounding vegetation and silky white drapes. Smokers can sit on the patio outside in cane chairs that are of course, white. Miniature “trees” in pot plants and watering cans sit atop the white tables and the stacks of books against the walls give it a homely feel, though sadly the books are actually just hollow cardboard boxes with about 12 repeated titles. Admittedly this is a very small point to pick on though.
Iced coffees are served in boot-shaped glass mugs (K3,200) and the strawberry smoothie, while pricey at K3,200, had real pieces of strawberry at the bottom. It also offers Myanmar’s famous avocado smoothie, plus papaya yoghurt and blueberry smoothies, to name but a few.
BB Cake and Coffee has eye-boggling window displays of cakes, which are available for home delivery and cost around K28,000 (excluding delivery charges). As implausible as it sounds, there are even cakes displayed on iron framed bicycles. Each bicycle has three oversized cream cakes perched on the place where a seat would go, plus one above that and below.
But while a decadent birthday treat is one thing, BB Cakes is not for health conscious consumers. And brown bread lovers beware: there is nothing for you here but a pack of four brown bread slices that will set you back a surprising K1,800. Plain white bread is sold in slices of 10, for the over-the-top sum of K2,200. Although there are bakers on the premises, there are no baguettes or the like in sight and almost everything is sweet rather than savoury. Granted, it’s acake and coffee shop, but when items such as Fruit Pizza (K1,500) or Flower Sausage (K1,500) make an attempt to fill that gap, it seems that something less ambitious and more comforting and nutritious may have been a better way to go. The bacon croissant was served cold and contained a confusing spread of sliced cucumber and chopped cabbage in a mayonnaise dressing, which gave me a sense that a lot less thought is going into the food than the beautiful interior design. The chicken and bacon sandwiches on display had been deep fried and it was hard to tell if they were made of bread or the ubiquitous puff pastry, with a thin strip of bacon slathered across the top of the latter. Sadly the results were ultimately unappealing.
As the chef of one Yangon’s best known restaurants once told me, “There’s enough room in the market for all the new cafes and restaurants popping up in Yangon. The problem is that most places get the concept and service right, but fall flat on the food. Or it’s the other way round…”
For the time being at least, BB Cake and Coffee falls into that category.
BB Cake and Coffee is located on No. 48 Parami Road (on the corner of Myint Zu Street) Parami.
Phone: 09 4211 806 70
Please note: This review was published by Mizzima way back in December 2013 – so perhaps take it with a grain of salt (pardon the pun).