Formerly:   Burmese Independence Army Headquarters
Address:     290 U Wizara Road
Year built:   Unknown
Architect:    Unknown


This villa-turned-restaurant displays unusual features for a colonial residence. It is more akin to British homes in the hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (then Maymyo), in Shan State, where colonial officers grew strawberries and escaped during their holidays in search of cooler weather.

As you turn off U Wizara Road and into the driveway, the heat, fumes and heaving traffic subside, giving way to a gentler aura: when the authors of this book arrived for an afternoon drink, staff were enjoying a leisurely game of five-a-side football in the courtyard at the front.

The colonial teak villa appears in remarkably good shape

The house displays many of its original features, save for the makeshift roofing which suggests repairs prompted by weather damage.

The house was at one time known as the “Nath Villa” (a sign at the front gate still bears that name) and belonged to Mr Dina Nath—Chairman of the Indian Independence Army’s chapter in Burma—and his wife, Caroline. The Nath family still owns the house and as their grandson, Richie, explains: “I thought about renting it out, but I couldn’t do it.” Instead, they converted the spacious house into a pleasant restaurant which, as the name suggests, doubles up as a homage to the Nath family and their heirlooms. A number of private dining rooms are named after Nath family members, save for one on the first floor which features a grander name still: it was the office of none other than General Aung San.

Indeed, and like in a number of other properties around town, General Aung San struck up quarters here for a time. The Naths, also active in the anti-colonial struggle, gave Aung San a room in 1941. Dina Nath also brokered meetings between the Indian Independence Army and Aung San. The IIA’s leader, Subhas Chandra Bose (who, like Aung San, colluded with the Japanese at the start of the war) stayed here during clandestine visits to meet with Burma’s independence leader.

The airy guest room continues on the outside terrace in the back

As the Nath family recount on the restaurant website, Dina Nath was subsequently imprisoned for a year by the British, in 1947, for his role with the IIA. Rajiv Gandhi, prime minister of India (1984–1989), later honoured Nath’s role in the independence struggle. The house features many photos of Nath’s momentous life.

The house is well preserved but clearly delicate. The staff politely ask you not to run or jump on the first floor’s teak floorboards. (And as the authors were writing this text on the first floor’s airy terrace, a small piece of the roof came crashing to the ground.)