While I was In Kuala Lumpur last month I was able to satisfy my cravings for monhinga, the savory Burmese noodle soup that is a breakfast staple throughout Myanmar, at a local restaurant. In the past, while visiting Kuala Lumpur, I have dined at another place specializing in Burmese food, the Gandawin Restaurant on Lebu Pudu Street. But due to construction work it was closed the first day I ventured out. Luckily, I found another place nearby, the Zay Yar Restaurant.
Actually, it wasn’t so much luck that I found this place. There are several restaurants and grocery stores in the same neighborhood that cater to the large number of Myanmar nationals who work in the greater Kuala Lumpur area. Zay Yar is much more of a basic operation than Gandawin, offering self-serve meals where you walk up the counter and place your order, similar to a fast food joint. But Zay Yar turned out to be a very friendly and very inexpensive place that offered very tasty bowls of monhinga along with a few other Burmese noodle and rice dishes. A pleasing cup of hot Burmese tea is the perfect accompaniment to any meal.
Zay Yar Restaurant is located on the corner of Jalan Tun Perak, on the second floor of a large building that houses other restaurants and businesses. It’s directly across the street from the Maybank Tower.
But all is not blissful for those people from Myanmar working in Malaysia. I frequently read accounts of Burmese being robbed, injured, or murdered in Malaysia. Whether this is Burmese-on-Burmese crime, or something else, I can only speculate. This week I read a report on the Irrawaddy’s online site about four Myanmar workers in Malaysia who were brutally murdered this past week. One theory is that these murders were somehow linked to the Buddhist-Muslim riots in Mandalay last week. Hmm … that sounds a bit far-fetched, but the article said that whenever such sectarian violence erupts in Myanmar, attacks on Burmese working in Malaysia invariably occur soon afterwards.
Whatever the cause, it highlights the dangers and uncertainty that awaits anyone from Myanmar who decides to seek work overseas. The wages for unskilled Burmese workers are much better in countries such as Malaysia, but adjusting to life in a different culture and country is not always easy, nor is it always safe.