3 November 2023

Five minutes with Ko, Myanmar Corner

| Claire Sams
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Group photo

Aye (centre front) and Ko (centre back) are part of the team behind Myanmar Corner. Photo: Myanmar Corner.

Who are you?

My name is Ko, and I own the Myanmar Corner Restaurant and I am head chef there too.

What kind of food does Myanmar Corner offer?

We have curries that are totally different from Thai or Indian curries – they look like Indian curries but are totally different because we don’t use a lot of strong spices. We also have street foods, noodle dishes and little snacks, like you can find on a Burmese street corner.

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What does your usual day look like?

I have to get up at 7:30 am because I have a son and I love making different kinds of lunchboxes for him. At 10 am, I come to the shop where all the fresh products arrive. We start prepping and I finish that around 2 pm. I pick up the boy, and we start again at 5 pm until 10 pm or 11 pm.

I paint, from time-to-time, at night or watch TV afterwards.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

Cooking found me! I had never cooked until I was 21, when I arrived in Australia to start my business diploma. I’d moved away from family and I had to cook for myself.

I didn’t get into the hospitality industry until I was a a permanent resident in Australia. I started my apprenticeship and after that – out of nowhere – my sister called me and asked if I wanted to open a restaurant with her.

five dishes on table

The ‘laphet thoke’ or pickled tea leaf salad (centre) is one of many dishes on the menu. Photo: Myanmar Corner.

What is the menu item that really shows what Myanmar Corner can do?

At the moment we have a soft-shell crab curry. It’s very modern with crispy soft-shell crab and a base of a Burmese curry broth. Customers really love it, and I’m very proud of the dish too.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

In Burmese cooking, we have three ingredients that we always need to use: onion, ginger and garlic. With those three ingredients, I can make basically any Burmese food.

What is Canberra’s best kept food secret?

The Tongdak [in Gungahlin] is a Korean restaurant, and it’s never disappointed me whenever I go. They are a family business, like us.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I watch Korean cooking shows at the moment. I’m enjoying the way they film all these colourful foods. On Netflix, I’ve pretty much watched everything about Korean food.

prawn curry

Ko says there is more to Burmese food than just curry, but this prawn and pumpkin curry is one to try. Photo: Myanmar Corner.

What do you wish people understood about your restaurant?

I know Burmese food is totally out of most people’s comfort zone, but I want people to understand that Burmese food is different to what they have in mind. People shouldn’t be scared to try a curry, because it’s very mild.

What is your comfort food?

I go with my boy to get Korean food in Gungahlin a lot, but Burmese food has to be my favourite to eat. For me, a chicken curry is my favourite and what I cook the most.

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Where do you dine out for special occasions?

I only have Monday off and most restaurants close on Monday, so I can’t go out a lot. But if I can, I might go to Meat & Wine Co [in Civic] or Mrs Wang in TigerLane.

Who do you admire on the Canberra food scene?

Gerland Ong, the head chef of Mrs Wang. We’ve only known him for a few years, but he’s someone I always go to if I need a suggestion about food. I love his food, and he’s full of knowledge and a young, talented chef.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

I don’t drink a lot of coffee – but if I had to go for one, I’d go for a flat white.

Myanmar Corner is at 38/68 Dalkin Crescent, Casey. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch from 11:30 am to 2 pm, and for dinner from 5 pm to 9 pm. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook to see their seasonal specials.

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