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A BASIC GUIDE TO MYANMAR FOOD

· Myanmar

Myanmar cuisine is already diverse due to the many ethnic groups residing together in the country. The food is also influenced further by neighboring countries like China and India. Burmese cuisine is found easily and available at different price ranges in Yangon from street vendors on sidewalks to restaurants that warmly welcome tourists. To truly experience the Burmese cuisine, here are the snacks and dishes that you should definitely try out when you are in Myanmar.

Noodles are a staple food in many countries. In Myanmar, we have “Khao Swe Thoke” and it is a very common noodle dish here. The noodles are dressed in peanut oil, fish sauce, and lime. Then, dried shrimps and vegetables like cabbage and carrots are added. This is why the dish’s name in Burmese is roughly translated to “noodle salad”. There are many more noodle dishes in Burmese cuisine. Another similar dish is Nan Gyi Thoke, which is the same thing but with rice noodle - a different type of noodle. Also, we cannot forget mohinga, a tasty rice noodle soup served with vegetables and fried snacks. It is regarded as the national dish of Myanmar. Mohinga is usually a breakfast food, but nowadays, people eat it throughout the day, no matter the time.

Coconut Noodle Soup (Ohn No Khao Swe) | Gary Stevens | Flickr
Mohinga | Wilson Santos | Flickr

Quick snacks are almost everywhere in Myanmar with small street vendors and stalls selling tasty deep fried samosas and spring rolls. In the downtown area along the Anawrahta Road in Lanmadaw, you can find delicious snacks, which are especially convenient for breakfast food. Fried breadsticks are one of the common street food. They are a version of Chinese snack called youtiao. Burmese people dip these fried breadsticks in coffee or eat them along with porridge or mohinga. Burmese food continues to take inspiration from neighboring countries. The next snack is roti or paratha from India. People enjoy this popular breakfast food with sweet condensed milk or curry. For Burmese snacks, there is the famous pickled tea or laphet, which is unique in the region and is a favorite national dish. It can be an appetizer, a snack, or something you have with a bowl of rice. Burmese people also have their own variation of fried snacks like how Indians have samosas. This snack is called Mote Lin Ma Yar and street vendors tend to sell this alongside samosas and fried spring rolls. The name “Mote Lin Ma Yar” roughly translates to “husband and wife snacks” because two halves of rice flour batter are grilled separately on cast-iron pans and then, like a married couple, they are joined into a single piece with toppings like roasted chickpeas, quail eggs, and etc.

Tea Leaf Salad (Laphet) | Ron Dollete | Flickr
Mont Lin Ma Yar | The Myanmar Times

Speaking of Indian influence, Burmese cuisine has its own curries. Unlike Indian curries, Burmese curries are on a less intense scale when it comes to spice. There are curries with whatever type of meat such as chicken, pork, fish, lamb and etc. An array of side dishes such as boiled vegetables and dips are served alongside the curry. Aung Thukha Restaurant on West Shwe Gon Daing Road serves great burmese food. The meals there are curries and rice with free soup, tea leaf salad, and vegetables with a bowl of dipping sauce called ngapi yay. The place may not be fancy but the prices are reasonable and the staff is very nice. They sometimes even refill the curries for free. This is actually what Burmese people eat at home. They have meals like this for lunch and dinner. A simple typical meal at home would consist of rice, an accompanying curry as a main dish, soup, and vegetables with ngapi yay.

In the eastern part of Myanmar is the Shan State, which has a lot of popular tourist attractions such as the Inle Lake and the hot air balloon festivals. It is the place of where one of the most popular dishes in Myanmar, Shan noodles, comes from. Shan noodles have two different types of rice noodles they use. “San See” is sticky and flat noodles for the salad version while the “Yay Sein” is the round and thin shaped noodles for the soup version. The “Nga Htamin” or fish rice in English is another specialty of the Shan people. It is a unique version of fried rice with herbs and spices. A few good Shan restaurants in Yangon are Shan Yoe Yar Restaurant, Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle Shop, and 999 Shan Noodle Shop.

Shan noodles

If you plan to visit Myanmar, don’t forget to try all these delicious dishes from such a unique region. To make finding all these local authentic food easier to find, consider contacting our company, Yangon Food Tours, specializing in showing tourists authentic Myanmar cuisine. Happy eating!

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