A Foodie Guide: 10 Must - Try Dishes in Myanmar
When travelling to a foreign country, it would be a huge mistake to not discover local cuisine, especially Asian countries which are the very home of exotic spices and cooking techniques. Myanmar was once a mighty empire of Southeast Asia for eras. However, this rich-in-culture country has been much of a favour of the modern world; therefore, some may find it confusing when trying to explore Myanmar cuisine.
Insufficient information and images would not give you a full understanding but quite patchy about what to try in Myanmar. It may seem that the Burmese do not have many traditional – cultural dishes like many other Asian realms.
In fact, you will be amazed by these tasty legacies of Myanmar when you set foot on this vibrant country yourself and discover the once forgotten values of this culture. Below comes 10 must - try dishes in Myanmar that you don't want to miss in your Myanmar tours.
1. Mohinga - Fish Noodle
As Burmese is also an Asian civilization, their foods also come with lots of tastes and spices; hence, noodle dishes with delicious broth is a must. Mohinga is considered one of the biggest proud of Myanmar cuisine, just like Vietnamese ‘phở’ and Thai ‘pad’. Although this dish is usually served as breakfast, you can easily buy this anytime of the day from street food stalls and teahouses.
Mohinga is usually cooked with fresh fish, vermicelli noodle and typical Asian spices like garlic, onion, lemongrass and ginger. Although it may seem simple, the taste will never disappoint any travellers.
2. Lephet Thoke – Tea Leaf Salad
This one could be considered the most exotic and extraordinary dish for those who are exploring Myanmar cuisine. The fact that tea leaves that are normally brewed into heavenly elixir are now made into some kind of salad would confuse many.
The ingredients of Laphet thoke consist of fresh tea leaves, tomatoes, sliced cabbages, fried peas and garlic oil. All these are mixed together by hand to create the strange but appetizing Lephet thoke.
3. Myanmar Curry
Because of its close relation with South Asian culture, Burmese cuisine bears various similarities with Indian one. A perfect example is curry. Meats are stewed in thick sauces to make curry, then the dish is served with rice and other side dishes. Compared to Indian curry, Burmese curry is quite salty but as tea often comes along, it brings balance to the dish.
4. Myanmar Milk Tea
Myanmar milk tea is nothing like Taiwanese/ Chinese milk tea which is full of boba and served in a plastic cup. Myanmar people have reasons to be proud of this cultural beverage of their own. Milk and natural brewed tea are mixed together in a harmonic portion and served in porcelain cups. Milk tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and is consumed during the whole meal. This should be a saviour of travellers if they happen to not like Burmese cuisine very much. Moreover, a cold cup of milk tea is not a bad choice to quench your thirst in the hot weather of Myanmar.
You can find milk tea served widely across the country in restaurants and teahouses.
5. Teahouse Dishes
In Myanmar, teahouses are not just for a cup of tea. They also have snack - like dishes to satisfy anyone who has a heart for a quick meal in mid afternoon. No teahouses are the same in Myanmar, their types of tea and side dishes also reflect the owners’ culture and lifestyle.
For example, shops that are run by ethnic Burmese serve traditional noodle or rice such as htamin thoke, which is a combination of rice and salad. On the other hand, Indian/Muslim-style shop offer dishes with a taste of South Asia like deep - fried snack or curry. Chinese - influenced ones feature meaty buns and small dim sums.
6. Muon – Burmese Sweet Treats
“Muon” is a wide range of sweet dishes in Myanmar. However, they do not play the role of desserts like in Western countries. Muon is usually served as a snack meal, consumed with tea in the morning or mid afternoon. Muon has a typical sweet taste that is unlike other snacks which are sweetened with sugar, this Myanmar traditional type of treats adopt natural sweetness from natural ingredients such as coconut, rice flour or sticky rice.
An outstanding kind of Burmese pancake is also recommended. You will soon find them unlike any elsewhere in the world.
7. Fried Street Foods
Bad news for those wanderers who are on diet. It is literally impossible to avoid oily fried foods in Burma. Almost everything comes with oily sauces or is deep-fried, especially street foods and teahouse dishes.
But the good thing is once you are used to Asian dishes which are rich in tastes and spices, you will soon find these rather amazing than cloying. Samosas (or spring rolls) have deep fried crispy rice wrapper and are filled with a delicious combination of ground meat, vegies, onion and spices, sometimes even seafood. Also, the dipping sauce is a must. Some special dip is made from sour-sweet tamarind, which should give you an appetizing experience like nothing else.
8. Shan Rice
Often known as Nga htamin – fish rice, Shan (a major Buddhist ethnic group in Myanmar) rice has become one of the best options for travelers when in Myanmar. Fragrant rice is cooked with turmeric and turned yellow, served with flakes of freshwater fish and garlic oil. Nga htamin is a must try for those who possess a heart for spicy food.
9. Shan Noodles
The Shan has a great legacy of extraordinary dishes contributing to the exotic cuisine of Myanmar. Soup dishes like noodles have always been a highlight of any Asian country. Shan noodles are made from thin rice noodle with peppery broth and chicken or pork, served with a small dish of pickled vegetables. Especially, the Shan has a special way to season the noodles with toasted sesame.
Compared to other Myanmar noodles like mohinga, Shan noodle could be quite simple, but it is reassuringly comforting and delicious.
10. Nan Gyi Thohk
Another Burma’s culinary superstar is Nan Gyi Thohk which is considered a Burmese - style spaghetti. Nan Gyi Thohk is a dry dish of thick and round rice noodle mixed with a special curry - like sauce, often served with a little chicken meat. Some lime juice before enjoying the dish is never a bad option.
► Where to Eat Best Dishes in Myanmar
One can easily experience the culinary art of Myanmar in any part of the country, from small food stalls on the streets or in local markets to glamorous teahouses and restaurants. Below come some suggestions from us of where to have this tasteful legacy of Myanmar.
Rangoon Tea House:
Many tasty spots of Myanmar serve as a teahouse and a restaurant. This beautiful one is well-known among expats in Myanmar for its space and menu. The foods are somewhat milder than other places. Their menu is suitable for people on different diets such as vegetarian or gluten free. But the most valuable thing is their tea menu with various original Burmese choices.
Address: 77-79 Pansodan Street | Lower Middle Block, Yangon (Rangoon) 11182, Myanmar
A perfect place for salad and noodle dishes (or even noodle salad as well).
Address: 102 Bogalayzay St, Yangon (Rangoon) 11162 Myanmar
House of Memories Restaurant:
Not only a restaurant but somewhat a museum of memories that offer you a peek into some part of Myanmar's revolutionary past before the time it was closed off by military incidents. The house is also a well preserved historical site.
Address: 290 U Wisara Road, Yangon (Rangoon) Myanmar
Mingalabar Myanmar Restaurant:
Pay a visit to this one for regional specialties from around the country. The restaurant ranks one of the best one in Mandalay by tourists. The food is served in the traditional ways of Myanmar with a variety of dishes per meal.
Address: 71st Between 28th & 29th Street Chan Aye Tharzan Township, Mandalay Myanmar
However, do not just stick to the restaurants. Since it is Myanmar and it is Asia, street foods are always a major part in your trip. Take a leisurely walk on the streets and in markets to have the best experience of Myanmar cuisine.
- Bogyoke Aung San Market is a great place to look for souvenirs, teas, thanaka powder and delicious sweet treats. The market is huge so take your time.
Address: Bo Gyoke Road, Pabedan 11141 Myanmar
- The Night Market on 19th Street in Yangon is a must-visit. You can sit anywhere and order fried stuff from different vendors. The best options are grilled fish, meat, offal and veggies.
Address: 19th Street between Mahabandoola and Anawrahta roads, Yangon, Myanmar
A message for travellers when in Myanmar is that you keep an open mind and open hearts for new experiences. And of course for new styles of cuisine. The country is changing quickly and become more of a great pin on the map of South East Asia to tourists that will surely not fail any adventurous hearts.