You may have decided to come to Myanmar to see its magnificent temples, swim in its most pristine beaches or just tour around its many natural wonders. But there is one thing you shouldn’t miss out – eating and drinking in Myanmar. Tourists are always thrilled to see, smell and taste rare and exotic dishes and drinks whenever in a foreign country. In most cases, eating and drinking become the highlight of the day after you have tired yourself out from all the fun activities that Myanmar has to offer.
Myanmar or more popularly known to many by its old name, Burma, is largely influenced by its neighbor-country, Thailand, and it is quite evident in the food. The two countries share similar dishes although those in Thailand are much spicier. There is also an obvious blend of Chinese and Indian cuisine. Myanmar dishes are generally based on rice and noodles, made delicious with curry, spices, meat, fish, and vegetables and garnished with salads, appetizers and soups. The really good news is that food is inexpensive. You can go restaurant-hopping to see which Burmese dish agrees best with your palate. There are several posh restaurants, middle class restaurants and common roadside food joints all over the major cities of Naypyidaw (capital), Yangon and Mandalay. As you go try out local foods and restaurants, you shouldn’t miss sampling the following dishes.
Ask for “mohinga”, a rice vermicelli dish with orange fish gravy that is typically served with coriander and chili powder. Considered by many as Myanmar’s national dish, a mohinga is usually served for breakfast and may be prepared sweet or spicy to super spicy. It is popular all over the country, but may take on a variety of styles from one region to another.
Another popular meal is “onnokauswe”, which is made up of thick noodles and thick coconut milk soup with chicken. It is typically served with fried fruit fritters, solidified duck blood and other side dishes. This soup has several counterparts elsewhere in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Another soup dish with rice noodles and chicken is “nan gyi thoke”, which is most popular in Central Myanmar. And then lastly, have a taste of “laphet thote”, a nutritious salad made of fermented tea leaves and nuts and typically mixed with sliced lettuce and with rice.
Myanmar cuisine heavily uses curry. Although Indian and Thai foods are generally spicier than Burmese dishes, the Burmese curry is much more chili than Indian and Thai curries. Also, the Burmese prefer it hot with many onions, cooking oil and without coconut milk. (In the past, cooking with oil was a sign of wealth.) You’ll have plenty of curry-based dishes to choose from as you visit different restaurants. But one of the best places to hang out while enjoying your daily dose of caffeine is Black Canyon Coffee with branches in Yangon (near International Hotel) and Mandalay (near Sedona Hotel). Try the Chinese tea called “yenwejan” or fermented palm sugar called “Toddy Juice”.
Myanmar is a religious country, and so the general public is not happy seeing people drinking alcohol, although most men do. When eating and drinking in Myanmar, you will not be jailed for drinking liquor but you may be frowned at by devout Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. The country produces a local beer called Myanmar Beer and a local liquor called “Shwe le maw”.