Ngapali, pronounced ‘Napoli’ as if you are in Naples, Italy, is one of the best beach resorts in Myanmar.
A bunch of beach cafes serving fresh seafood and sunset views have sprung up along the stretch of public beach where there are no hotels. Most of them have exactly the same menu, so it was lucky that the second night we were there we tried the Green Umbrella.
The couple at the table next to us raved about the food, describing it as “the best seafood on the beach!” That night we had prawns in coconut curry with steamed rice and this was certainly worth going back for again and again.
Another night we had the barracuda; it was grilled and simply prepared, perfect with the avocado and tomato salad, another dish we had several times. The salad had some kind of nut in the dressing and caramelized onions on top, and I wish I had the recipe!
Once, for lunch, we had the grilled crab. You get two of them, and to start they don’t look like much as there is almost no meat in the legs. But, unlike most crabs I’ve met, the meat is in the body, and it was sweet and delicious. It was served with a yellow salsa, spicy hot but with an interesting base that we think might be grapefruit(?) – or maybe pomelo – we’ve seen them in one of the local stores, mislabelled as ‘lemons’. I would recommend that you order them during the day when there is lots of light. They have lots of little pointy bits that could cause severe damage if it was too dark to see that they were there.
Our final meal we ordered the avocado and tomato salad (again), the prawns in coconut curry (again), steamed rice and three grilled tiger prawns.
Wash all this delicious seafood down with a cold Myanmar Beer.The owner Bashwe and his sister at the Green Umbrella cafe.
As it was our last night I asked if I could see them cook the curry and they pulled me in the cook shack at the critical moment. There were several charcoal braziers, one containing our grilled tiger prawns, the other a wok with a small amount of hot oil.
Bashwe’s wife did the cooking; she first added garlic which sizzled a little, then the curry paste, pale pink (and a secret recipe) which was also fried until fragrant, then came the prawns and finally the coconut milk from a can, Aroy-D, the same brand we use at home.
Then there was the added bonus of dessert. We have had several desserts at the Green Umbrella. All of them have consisted of various permutations of the small sweet local bananas – banana fried with a topping of brown sugar syrup; uncooked banana with a honey/syrup mix; and tonight, the bananas have been cooked and slathered in coconut cream and grated coconut.
I should note that the hotels in the vicinity, burdened with heavy taxes, have demanded that these ‘squatters’ be relocated away from the beach to the other side of the road – not far in theory, but without the sea breezes and sunset views, and with hoards of insects, the traditional sunset cocktail just wouldn’t be the same. Try and get there before it all changes!