Memos from Asia

10 Must-Try Foods in Myanmar

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Myanmar’s cuisine is certainly unique and delicious in the Asia region, made all the more appetising because their dishes tend to make use of fresh and healthy ingredients with lots of spices. of them are hearty, savoury and filling sure to give you all the energy you need to tour around the country with ease. Here’s a list of some of the must-try food when you visit Myanmar.

Mohinga

Mohinga with fritters (Credit: Wagaung, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Mohinga is the unofficial national food of Myanmar, a soup made from fish and rice vermicelli noodles with a rich broth. It is sometimes served with fried fritters on top for that extra crunch that makes the entire meal complete. Mohinga is very ubiquitous in Myanmar and you will find it in practically every street stall with vendors most commonly selling the hot and filling meal in the mornings. It is usually eaten for breakfast – a common trend in the country’s food culture is actually hearty breakfasts! Aside from stalls, there are vendors going around on the streets carrying a huge soup cauldron along with them on their bikes so you can call on one when you see them and they will stop for you and sell you a hot piping bowl that will start your day with a smile.

Tea leaf salad

Tea leaves salad

Tea leaf salad is a healthy and refreshing Burmese meal that is packed full with a variety of textures and flavours that will be sure to excite your taste buds with every single forkful. It’s made with slightly bitter fermented tea leaves (known locally as lephet), tomatoes, seeds and nuts, then dressed with a delicious tangy dressing of garlic oil and crushed chilis. Tea leaf salad can be eaten for any occasion – be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, as a snack or meal. Anything goes with the jack of all trades dish!

Shan noodles

Shan noodle at Shan State, Myanmar

Shan noodles are a sticky noodle dish made from a variety of local ingredients and spices but the main star of the dish is the chicken and tomato sauce that give the meal its full flavour. Alongside the generous serving of chopped chicken (or other meats depending on the specialty of the vendor), the noodles are typically topped with a handful of crushed peanuts in order to give the dish a bit of added crunch and texture as a contrast to the savoury base.

Shan rice

Shan rice is made from cooked rice mixed in with turmeric and shredded up pieces of fish from the local waters. It’s usually topped with the popular Burmese condiment that is garlic oil. Shan rice can vary from location to location! Some vendors serve it as a bowl of rice, some compress the sticky rice into a ball or disk-like shape to make for an easy to eat snack. The preparation can vary greatly as well. Some chefs like to keep it as it is and some like to experiment with different kinds of fish and even add veggies into the rice mix for that extra crunch.

Burmese Curry

(Credit: magical-world, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Curry is quite a popular dish among many countries in the regions of Southeast Asia and South Asia. Myanmar’s personal rendition of curry involves the selection of a very meaty and thick base that contains a savoury mixture of crushed fish or shrimp alongside oil and minced garlic. Then, it is stuffed to the brim with lots of spiced and filling ingredients such as potatoes, fish, pork, beef, lamb, mutton, and more depending on the vendor’s specialty. There is also a variety of Burmese curry that combines the local taste of curry topped with another popular dish called samosa.

Kaut Nyinn Paung

Kaut Nyinn Paung is a delicious sticky rice meal that will leave you very satisfied. It is made with both black sticky rice and white sticky rice for a contrast of textures and flavours. Despite sticky rice usually being an indicator for a sweet meal, Kaut Nyinn Paung is actually a savoury one! Not to mention, the ‘yin and yang’ appearance of the dish makes for quite the appetising sight for the eyes. Then, it is sprinkled with sesame seeds, coconut shavings, and dried fish that makes for a wholesome meal.

Dosas

(Credit: Paul Joseph, CC BY 2.0)

Dosas are quite a popular and ubiquitous food in Asia, and Myanmar’s own tasty spin on the Dosa is no exception. A dosa is a thin savoury pancake which is cooked on a large pan to achieve that perfectly rounded shape. Once served, it is then folded in half for easy handling and you can dip it into a variety of sauces. Some of the more popular ones include curry sauces and fish sauces.

Samosa

Traditional Asian street food, Samos fried pasties. Yangon, Myanmar

Samosas are pastries stuffed with a variety of fillings that have the option to either be fried or baked. Usually, they are formed into a triangular shape that is easily held and recognisable even from afar. Burmese samosas vary from stall to stall and can be filled with potatoes or meat but the spice mix usually consists of an amazing mixture of local ingredients like paprika, cumin, garam masala, chillies, and more!

Pani puri

Pani puri is a popular Burmese snack, balls made from potatoes, chickpeas, and flour as the primary base and of course, combined with a variety of spices depending on the serving location. Then, a hole is formed into the pani puri where fillings can be placed. Sometimes people opt for veggies and sometimes a deliciously spiced soup with even more chickpeas and lots of onions and additional spice. Definitely, a must-try when in Burma.

Muon

Myanmar is certainly quite popular for its large variety of savoury meals but it definitely doesn’t fall short in the sweets department. Muon refers to the variety of Burmese sweets that are usually flakey layers of biscuits and crust topped with local ingredients such as condensed coconut milk with sugar and fruit. The unique thing about Muon is that it’s not usually eaten as dessert – the sweetness of muon is more subdued and focused on the wholesome taste of the cream and fresh ingredients. Thus, it is usually served as an appetizer rather than a sweet treat for after a meal.

Are all of these delicious Burmese treats getting you hungry? Be sure to bookmark this article for your future travel plans to make sure you make the most out of your Myanmar trip.

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