So far, most of his customers are from South Asia, and over the past three years, he estimates about 100 Arabs who have tried his cuisine. “I hope one day to expand it across UAE, but it will take time,” he says.
With official figures hard to get by, there are an estimated 10,000 Myanmar nationals working in the UAE, most of them in the hospitality sector like food and lifestyle, with some working in construction as engineers. In 2000, Mr Minn remembers that there were just 100 Myanmar nationals living in UAE, mostly in Dubai. “But more and more are coming here as everyone wants to live here. Dubai is very famous back home,” he says.
As a way of reviving the “golden” image of what Mr Minn calls the “golden land” of precious gems like rubies, he decided to call his restaurant “Golden” and put a logo of the Mandalay Palace, located in Mandalay, Myanmar. It is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy, built between 1857 and 1859.
Besides its unique food and culture, Burmese use a unique ancient script, a Brahmi style syllabic alphabet, adopted from the Mon script in the 12th century CE. The Brahmi script is one of the most important writing systems in the world and is the ancestor to hundreds of scripts found in South, Southeast, and East Asia. Check out this link to see this beautiful script.
“What makes us even more special, we have no last name, no family name per say,” explains Mr Minn, who says his name is defined by astrology and by the exact day, time he was born. “I am Thursday, Friday, Sat,” translating his name Minn Thu Soe.
Whenever a child is born in Myanamr, the family takes him or her to the astrologer who writes up the infant’s entire life, character and events into a tiny booklet and hands it over to the parents.
Known as “Zar Tar,” the record or booklet is a stack of palm leaves smeared with residual oil and folded into a handy packet. It is an old-fashioned birth certificate, declaring the name of newly born baby, usually prepared by monks and astrologers, by going through a complex calculation of the location of stars, sun, and the date and time of the birth of new baby. To find out more on this ancient tradition of naming, read more here.
The naming system has been brought up to the 21th century, with mobile applications dedicated to this. One such application is called “Mahabote,” where you put your date of birth and it tells you your personality and fortune. “Based on the number that defines your birthday, you can read about your personality and what to expect in life,” says Mr Minn. “I am number one, where I am told my life will be bumpy, ups and downs, and that I have to be patient and success will come my way.”