Newsletter

Who We Are

The Rangoon Diner is the result of French born globe trotting Olly Daniaud’s long love affair with South East Asian food in particular Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and North East & West Thailand.

Olly co-founded the Westbourne in Notting Hill W2, the Pig’s Ear Bar and Dining Rooms in Chelsea SW3 and The Island in Kensal Rise NW10. in 2005 he also set up a travel business in Luang Prabang – Laos which provided him with an additional excuse to discover and embark on lesser known culinary adventures. His wife’s extended family in Myanmar has allowed him understand the finer points and techniques of this often overlooked cuisine.

What we know today as Southeast Asia was once called Indochina, named by western cultures because the three nations that form the Golden Triangle – traditionally the opium-producing countries of Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand but today the stunning culinary melting-pot where the flavours, ingredients and textures of these ancient civilisations collide – were hugely influenced by India and China.

Burma’s culinary history has been influenced by the cooking styles of China, Thailand, Cambodia and India, not coincidentally the ancestral starting points of the majority of its immigrants. The Chinese influence comes from the influx of Tibetans and Chinese Mongols between the ninth and 13th centuries and the Shakya people migrated from India around 250BC, hence the strong draw towards Indian methods, ingredients and dishes.

Burmese cuisine is a culinary roller-coaster and we’d love you to join us on the journey!

Thai food evolved at a much slower pace. Since Thailand wasn’t subject to European colonial rule, it gave the kings time to develop their own cooking methods and to encourage the cooks to create new dishes as well as continually making improvements on traditional fare.

Curries emanating from northern Thailand use a lot of chillies, of which there are dozens ranging from very mild to some of the hottest on Earth and while Thai food, especially their world-famous red and green curries, is popular in restaurants and home kitchens around the world, far fewer column inches have been devoted to the cuisines of Cambodia, Laos and in particular Burma.

Cambodia, as with India and Thailand, has as many curry variations as there are people who cook them and their Khmer versions are based of five elements. The first four are ingredients that form the base of most dishes – lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk and galangal (a root from the ginger family). The fifth constant is the specific cooking technique to be used and is dictated by the consistency of the milk and the texture of the lemongrass.

‘You cannot meditate on an empty stomach’ so says a famous Burmese proverb and like all countries in the region their food has distinct regional variations. The Shan people who migrated south from China in the 12th century use few spices as well as using soy to replace fish sauce; the ethnic groups closest to the Thai border make their curries in a more soup-like consistency and those in the south of the country use far more chilli than their northern brethren.

In an ever-changing world that moves at a thousand miles an hour, the creation of a classic Burmese curry remains a constant. The curry paste is made from onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric while the oil – a combination of sesame and peanut – is heated in a wok until it smokes. This is called ‘cooking the oil’. The paste is added to the oil, the heat reduced and then it’s cooked for 15 minutes. The cook then adds the meat which cooks and when it’s done, the oil rises to the top. This process is called ‘see byan’, the ‘return of the oil.’ As the oil rises, the dish is done but the oil isn’t discarded, it’s absorbed into the accompanying rice.

As we move over to Laos, we can see that two styles of cooking have emanated from the different cultures that settled here. Laotian cuisine is broadly similar to Thai cuisine, except for the fact that galangal and lemongrass are used rarely, and when they are, they’re used sparingly. The second style come from the ethnic Hmong people who come from the mountainous regions of China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand and influenced by the Chinese, they use soy sauce to replace the more common fish sauce, like the Burmese Shan people.

Almost without exception, Laotian curries use pink shallots, chilli, ginger and lots and lots of fresh herbs which are pounded to a smooth paste-like consistency and then cooked in coconut milk until silky. Either meat or freshwater fish is added but no vegetables; they are served on the side.

Similar to food from the Isaan region of northeastern Thailand, lots of herbs and raw vegetables are used and one of the most popular ingredients spanning both Laotian and Isaan cuisine is the huge Asian catfish which is found across the river systems spanning the Golden Triangle and common cooking methods include poaching in a fragrant broth or minced and fried and turned into a beautifully crispy catfish salad.