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Wednesday, April 30,2014

New In Town

NAING MYANMAR FAMILY RESTAURANT

by ALLAN I. ROSS
Add “Malaysian” and “Burmese” to the list of Asian cuisine offerings in the Lansing area. The two styles are joined by Thai food to make a triad of Asian intown dish options on the menu at Naing Myanmar Family Restaurant.

Owner/operator Moe Latt was born in Burma, now Myanmar, but moved to Malaysia, where he operated a restaurant for 20 years. He moved to the U.S. to increase his business prospects, and set up shop in south Lansing last November.

“I moved to Boston first, where I worked in the Starbucks at the Logan Airport, but a friend told me there were opportunities in Lansing,” Latt said. “I came here to see for myself and had found this building before I even left. I just picked up my family and moved.”

Latt’s restaurant is set up in a strip mall on Cedar Street, just north of Holmes Road. Most of the other businesses in Naing’s building are vacant, giving the environs a desolate look. It’s not the greatest location, particularly because the building runs perpendicular with the street, making it hard to spot. He said he’d like to expand into East Lansing eventually, as that’s where he’s noticed most of his customers come from.

“We haven’t had big crowds yet, but the people who find us really like it and come back often,” Latt said. “I’ve heard many good comments about the food.”

Burmese cuisine is influenced by a variety of Asian styles, including Indian. Seafood and fish sauces are prominently featured, as are eggs. All dishes listed on Latt’s menu include a list of all ingredients and an 8-by-10- inch color photo to make it easier.

“Burmese food is similar to Thai food, but it’s got a lot more flavor and use different spices,” Latt said. “We cook it in the traditional way, but we adjust the dishes based on how you want it. We make every dish to order. We don’t have any food (in warmers).”

There are only five Malaysian dishes on the menu; mostly vegetarian offerings and traditional soups. The Thai section

of the menu is the most extensive, with 20 selections. Latt said his wife, Mi, primarily handles the Thai orders, while he takes care of the Malaysian and Burmese dishes. The menu also features a selection of raw juice shakes and smoothies, and the beverage list features a host of authentic Asian teas.

“People in Lansing are mostly used to Chinese cuisine and Thai cuisine, so it’s great to able to introduce them to something new,” Latt said, who added that he’s selftaught. “This is food from three countries. A lot of people have never heard of Myanmar. Now they get to taste the food from there and get exposed to a whole new culture.”

Naing Myanmar Family Restaurant 3308 S. Cedar St., Lansing 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Saturday; closed Sunday (857) 615-8393

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