No restaurant is an island. That goes doubly for Rangoon, Philadelphia’s only Burmese restaurant.
In case you haven’t been following the news on CNN, Fox News, the Inquirer, the Times or whatever your media of choice is… Well, in Myanmar (aka Burma), the military junta that controls the country has been brutally repressing demonstrations by Buddhist monks. Yes, monks.
With this chaos back in the motherland, Rangoon has become a social center for expats trying to figure out exactly what’s happening back home:
The discussion turns to the old days in Burma, before it was renamed Myanmar by the military government: Rangoon’s main cook had operated a large Chinese-Burmese restaurant 20 years ago in Mandalay. Gyaw herself had studied law and run a video store and coffee shop. Solomon had come with her mother at age 9 in 1990 when schools were shuttered after the last mass uprising. A fried Burmese “won-ton” is offered, the shell stuffed with minced pork, then halved and oozing syrupy, sweet coconut milk. After I leave, Mya Solomon calls to tell me she won’t be around the next morning if I need to reach her. Rangoon would be closing for the day so they could travel to New York to protest on behalf of their friends far away and the families they would never forget.