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Venturing to this well-hidden warehouse-like diner is akin to stepping into a secret world where time slows down. Having had dinner at Karmakamet the other week, we invited some good friends to have lunch. The Gravlax with rocket salad and eggs with cherrie and blackberry was the kickoff of a two hour lunch and hit our taste bud just right. Surprisingly this place turned out busy for a Tuesday lunch and from what I observed; lot’s of regulars and locals frequent this lunch venue. Duck Confit with a slow cooked egg and vegetable was just a prefect lunch dish; anything with bacon tastes great I would comment but the duck was cooked to perfection!
The highlight of our lunch must have been the 600 gram French Chicken Roast on a bed of vegetable, berries and hand cut fries. The eatery pays homage to the art of dining in a wondrously absorbing and magnetic atmosphere.
Desserts are basic but with some weird flavour combination; I am not a fan of having Truffle oil in my Brulee and Lavender in my Ice Cream of Chocolate Cake.
This entry was posted in Asia, Bangkok, Food, Friends, Restaurant, Thailand and tagged Karmakamet, NomNom. Snapping a portrait of two men in traditional Burmese costumes, smiling in a sea of golden bowls and flowers, may seem relatively innocuous compared to the many historic steps Myanmar has taken in recent years. But photographer Phone Myat Htoo may have been the first in recent years to capture a gay wedding in Myanmar.
The photo, which he posted on Facebook in October with a caption supporting same-sex marriage, received positive comments from hundreds of internet users in the region and was shared by some 1,000 more. But it also sparked violent reactions in Myanmar, where homosexuality is a crime under Section 377 of its penal code, and where members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community face a mix of grudging tolerance and outright discrimination. Though not privy to the details of the ceremony, he said pre-wedding photo sessions were one of the ways to formalise such a union. The experience illustrates how gay people are forced to stay in the closet by an unsympathetic public and government. It prescribes an unspecified fine, life imprisonment or up to 10 years in jail for "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal". Though Section 377 is rarely enforced in Myanmar, Aung Myo Min, executive director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) and a graduate of Columbia University's human rights programme, said the fact that this law existed made LGBT people vulnerable to abuse by the police. HREIB launches campaigns and training for Myanmar's marginalised sectors, and compiles reports of human-rights violations. Aung Myo Min cited the case of a gay man in Yangon who was caught at night in the streets by police, and accused of "hanging out in a dark place and soliciting". In a less extreme case, the Belgium-based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's website said several gay people were arrested a few years ago during the annual Taung Byone near Mandalay, the country's largest spirit festival, which attracts hundreds of gay people. It is no surprise, then, that Myanmar's gay scene has been muted to the point that it is barely visible to outsiders. One of the tour highlights is Yangon's city centre, where a handful of gay meeting spots like the 9th Floor Disco are located. Thailand-based Canadian lawyer Douglas Sanders, who has written extensively on the gay scene in Myanmar after travelling to the country 10 years ago, said the disco attracted an emerging set of young, middle-class gays.

Gay-friendly tours attract professional couples from Singapore and Europe, the tour agency official says.
Tour guide Leon (not his real name), 26, who handles some gay-friendly tours, said LGBT visitors were curious about the other side of Myanmar. Leon's own sister is a lesbian in her 30s, whom he describes as "very handsome" and thus "has many girlfriends". Still, as a tour guide, Leon sees potential risks in the rising tourist interest in the local gay scene. Another reason why gay people are less visible, sources say, is because they are boxed into certain jobs: hair stylist, make-up artist, fashion designer or entertainer - jobs which are not always looked upon favourably. Hair stylist Thein Tun Zaw, who goes by the name Empress Linn Linn, said he had to defy his parents' wishes to run a salon in Bagan, an arid and rural tourist destination some 600 kilometres north of Yangon that is known for its ancient temples and shrines. He has quietly run a spartan and modern hair salon for seven years in a sleepy Bagan village accessible only by dirt roads.
Aung Myo Min said the limited range of employment available to gay people was a form of stereotyping. Linn Linn said Myanmar's gay scene was less vibrant and outspoken than in neighbouring Thailand, where he trained for several years as a stylist. However, one role that allows gay people to live out in the open is being a nat kadaw, or spirit medium.
Sanders, the lawyer, wrote in Singapore's Fridae magazine that "virtually all of the male nat kadaws and their acolytes are homosexual, manifested in the effeminate self-presentation and various degrees of cross-dressing".
Many gay people aspired to this role, Aung Myo Min said, "because in real life they always feel discriminated or looked down upon - but once they are nat kadaw, they have worshippers who respect them and listen to them".
It is precisely this kind of acceptance of LGBTs that rights activists would like to see enshrined in Myanmar's law and public consciousness. Aung Myo Min is helping the push for an equality law to be drafted into the constitution, and hopes to hold an LGBT caucus, bringing in activists from across the region, leading up to the 2014 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - which Myanmar will host. But he sees problems with reluctant ministers and a parliament where "35 per cent are from the military and another 60 per cent are from the government-backed party". While the picture is far from perfect, there have been signs of progress for LGBTs in recent years as the country, freed from military rule, began to open up. In fact, the name Karmakamet Secret World should ring a bell, as it’s the same crew behind the glossy black boxes of Karmakamet aromatherapy products, which first appeared at JJ market.
Exuding an Indo-Chinese, old-world charm with extraordinary rows of tin cans, glass bottles and old-fashioned medicine cabinets lining the walls, the ambience is reminiscent of the owner’s Baba-Nyonya ancestry.
The lunch menu is different to the dinner menu but nevertheless; listing some great dishes, comfort food, Brasserie style. Needless to say; my first order of Mikeller Beer was of course not available, therefore settling for a basil-lemon drink with soda which of course to my taste was by far too sweet. How I was happy to have a dish prepared with homemade Italian sausages, Chorizo Stew and mash. Waiters are extremely courteous and in case you were wondering, no, the food does not taste like soap or smell of flowers like the brand’s scented products.
Even though Karmakamet lists a number of desserts on their menu, there was not much to choose of and the ones we chose were average in taste and presentation.

Homosexual acts are listed under "unnatural offences" in Myanmar's British-colonial-era penal code. The penal code is also in force in former British colonies such as India and Singapore - but not in Hong Kong, which legalised gay sex in 1991. That law should be abolished and repealed," said Aung Myo Min, who has been based in Thailand for 20 years, and said he had to leave his country due to his political views.
One reason is that some teachers of Buddhism, the religion of 90 per cent of the population, hold that "LGBT people suffered from lust in a previous life, or they did something wrong, like adultery. It is accessible to those "in the know" - helped by guides such as online LGBT resource Utopia Asia, which verifies a handful of gay hangouts in the country, and local tour agencies that discreetly offer gay-friendly tours.
The club - which is in a block of night spots and karaoke bars called Mingal Zei that doubles as a red-light district - only comes alive a few days a week. Maybe this is why the slang term for a gay person is achauk [which literally means 'dry one']," notes one official from a gay-friendly tour agency. These visitors want to travel to the country without being judged for things like sharing the same room at a hotel. So I thought about a job that my parents considered dignified," said Linn Linn, who studied psychology in university. They are believed to be chosen by the gods to perform crucial roles at sacred festivals like the Taung Byone, and tell the fortunes of their followers. It looks like a Chinese grandpa could have lived here one with great taste and an eye for details, such as placemats resembling vintage newspapers.
All of us, more or less, are working in the food industry and all of us appreciate good food, honest food without any frills and bling-bling. Peranakan dishes will come soon, but for now, French food with an Asian twist dominates the menu. Burma has so many criminal statutes that can put anyone in jail, without any reason," he said. Maybe it is still pretty invisible, though the two [gay] discos in Yangon function openly and are busy," he said. He became a tutor and later worked at the offices of export-import companies, but quickly realised "those jobs were not for me".
That same year, Myanmar saw its first gay pride festival (though without a parade) in May and its first celebration of International Day against Homophobia on December 10. The haute and decorative nature of French cuisine reflects Karmakamet’s personality splendidly _ its philosophy of traditional craftsmanship means everything is created meticulously and by hand, one at a time. Chef Som, having worked at many hotels under the Relais & Chateaux umbrella, lends every dish a dreamy touch.

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