When April Chitkhin, the mother of Top Burmese co-owner Poe Myint, was in college in Myanmar, a dish called kyay oh was the hot new thing. A sweet soup with a tangle of rice noodles, quail egg, and meatballs, kyay oh quickly became a staple among Burmese locals, especially those in the town of Yangon where it likely originated.
It’s been a long time since Chitkhin was in college. Since then, her daughter and son-in-law, Kalvin Myint, opened a Myanmar-specific restaurant in Northwest Portland, where Chitkhin is also a major player. Soon, the family will have a restaurant dedicated to her college favorite, named for the dish itself.
As Portland Monthly first reported, Kyay Oh will serve chicken-based and vegan versions of the original dish, served “wet” or “dry” — Dry versions of kyay oh arrive tossed in a fried garlic oil, while the wet version of the dish uses a bone broth that boils for several hours. Kyay Oh is often served with pork, but the Portland version will stick to chicken and vegan bases — The standard bowl will come with vegetables like steamed mustard greens and the chicken meatballs or tofu, with an assortment of add-ons: quail egg, fried wonton, chicken livers. Still, the menu will stay pretty simple, not straying far beyond the namesake dish.
Kyay Oh will take over the original Top Burmese space, at 833 NW 16th Avenue.; for those who never made it in, the space is small, with 10 seats and lots of stainless steel. The restaurant will look very similar to the Top Burmese early adopters visited, though the restaurant won’t focus on delivery, like the original Top Burmese; the soup is meant to be eaten at the restaurant. The restaurant won’t offer alcohol; instead, diners can stick to non-alcoholic beverages like lemonade and Top Burmese’s mint and sugarcane juice.
When the restaurant opens January 23, it will stick to a three-day week — 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Kalvin Myint says the family wants to take things slow, to make sure they get it right. “It’s just a passion project for me and Poe,” he says. “We both love that dish; it’s what you eat when you go out and hang out with your friends [in Myanmar]. It’s a great childhood memory we want to bring back to life.”
• Kyay Oh [Official]
• Kyay Oh, a New Noodle Soup Shop from Top Burmese, Will Open on January 23 [Portland Monthly]
• Portland is getting a new one-dish noodle shop from the owners of Top Burmese [The Oregonian]
• Previous Top Burmese coverage [EPDX]