The small population that makes up Kalaw is diverse, resulting in a wide range of culinary options. For dinner, the must-try restaurant is Aung Nyein Chan Aung (II). The restaurant is rarely visited by foreigners because of its location a few blocks from the main road. Those willing to take the short walk though will be rewarded with a culinary experience that includes generous portions of fresh local vegetables, house-made Shan influenced salads, delicious bean soup and curries – all fresh. Thu Maung Restaurant is located on Pyi Daungsu Lan (the main road) and offers a similar menu that's slightly more expensive and not as popular with locals.
Located next to Thu Maung Restaurant is the FMD Indian Food Restaurant. The chicken kabob we tried was thoughtlessly flavoured, stir-fried with onions and oil. The yogurt lassi, on the other hand, was fantastic. Go for the lassi but save room for some of the better restaurants in town to eat.
We heard great things from locals and travellers alike about The Everest Nepali Food Centre, located near the pagoda on the southern part of town.
Pyae Pyae is a lunchtime favourite among locals for its Shan noodles. The vegetarian noodle soup is flavourful and loaded with fresh veggies and tofu– a steal at only 500 kyat. The number of motorbikes parked in front of the restaurant indicates its quality – best lunch in town!
As is the case in any Burmese town, tea shops are everywhere in Kalaw. Maninsi, located on the east side of the market, offers a delicious style of tea called 'le-pae-yae' that contains condensed milk. This style of tea was no doubt influenced by the British and pairs nicely with the assortment of fried vegetables offered by the shop.
The town goes to sleep early but there's a Burmese-style bar on the eastern part of town on the main road (look for the terrace overlooking the road and large green Myanmar Beer banners). While we didn't drop by, it looked quite lively at night and may be of interest to night owls or those in search of a night cap.