Foods to try in Myanmar
A popular Burmese rhyme sums up the traditional favorites: “A thee ma, thayet; a thar ma, wet; a ywet ma, lahpet” (အသီးမှာသရက်၊ အသားမှာဝက်၊ အရွက်မှာလက်ဖက်။), translated as “Of all the fruit, the mango’s the best; of all the meat, the pork’s the best; and of all the leaves, lahpet‘s the best”. I never thought Myanmar ‘s cuisine to be as interesting as other Asian countries I’ve been to. Its geographical location also plays a crucial role in its diverse culinary makeup; China in the North, India in the West and Thailand in the East.
A tea leaf salad for dessert? A pancake with fruit? I told you, Burmese cuisine is a bite of Chinese, Indian, Korean and almost every Asian fare. To satisfy your curiosity, here are some foods to try in Myanmar:
1. Burmese skewers- when you turn down 19th street in Yangon, you’re in the right place for food, fun, and drink. I felt like I found a Taiwan night market upon seeing arrays of barbecue stalls lined along this street. Among them is the popular pork offal skewers which you can dip into the red hot soup for just 1,000 kyats.
2. Htamane (ထမနဲ) –is a dessert made from glutinous rice, shredded coconuts and peanuts. It was part of my hostel’s breakfast buffet. While others opted for an American style meal, I chose these local traditional-looking rice desserts which I washed down with black coffee.
3. Shan Rice noodle- is a traditional shan noodle to the Shan people of Burma. Its ingredients are as follows: rice noodle, ground chicken or pork, onion, garlic, tomato, peanut and soy bean paste. Along with their refreshing tea, I love it!
4. Deep-fried stuff- fried food is an obsession in Myanmar. More so when you get to try their street foods, fritters in all forms and shapes-round, flat, long come along. Some of them were tasteless, so don’t forget to ask for sauce or any dip to serve it with.
5.Traditional Burmese meal- you will surely find this in every regular Burmese cafeteria that you will encounter. It was funny though. I thought I was ordering a buffet because aside from the fried fish that I just ordered, they included my meal with a bowl of soup, a tart salad, dried chilies, and other veggies with some sauces. And of course, the full plate of rice. And when you get to a buffet one, how they assemble their food in small plates reminds me of a Korean meal.
6.Shrimps- it seems that shrimp-based dish is everywhere in Myanmar from Yangon to Mandalay. It must be bountiful and they prepare it either fried, sautéed; sometimes even curried.
7. Tikay- is a type of rice cake Burmese adapted from Chinese. Other Asian countries have their own version of this rice cake. The brown rice cake undoubtedly looks like the Philippines’ Kutsinta which is sweetened with brown sugar.
8. Roti paratha– one evidence of the presence of Indian cuisine in Burmese. This pan fried flatbread goes well with particularly any Indian dishes and can be filled with any stuffing such as egg which is perfect for breakfast with a traditional Burmese coffee.
9.Curry meal- aside from Chinese-derived cuisine, Indian-inspired meal is also a part of Burmese cookery experience. Although curried meals are more expensive than fried ones, (at least from what I observed) I prefer it better. Like other typical Burmese food, although the main element is the curry based around the meat you’ve chosen, can be pork, shrimps, etc ; several dishes will follow such as noodle, salad, soup and dips.
10.Burmese tea meal– according to the locals, their tea is one of the best. That’s why in several snack sessions, I tried their tea, both hot and cold with some sweet and salty biscuits alongside.
11. Mohinga-is a rice noodle soup which is an essential part of Burmese gastronomy. It varies from region to region in Myanmar. Its main ingredients are catfish, vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, fish paste, ginger, banana stem, lemongrass, onions, garlic, and chickpea flour. Considered as Myanmar’s national food , it is best eaten at breakfast.
12.Western-styled breakfast– there are always familiar breakfast in case you don’t feel like trying the conventional Burmese one. Toasted bread,jam , margarine and fried eggs are typicals of them, not only in Myanmar but anywhere in Asia even in a hostel.
13. Lahpet thohk- known as Burmese tea leaf salad is a favorite national delicacy . Lahpet means fermented tea which is also eaten as a dessert along with some fruits, other sweets and ginger salad/gyij thoke.
14. Salad– if there’s one thing that I like about Myanmar food, that is their salad. It’s amazing to learn that Burmese salad is as varied and far from boring. This crunch cabbage salad with peanut dressing is one example that gave me idea on how to prepare my salad better next time.
15. Banana Pancake- Well, my very first try of banana pancake is in Myanmar. Isn’t it a healthy combination?
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