A Foodie’s Guide to Traveling through Myanmar (Burma)

Some of the best food in the world can be found throughout the Asian continent. In Thailand, you can order the most delicious Pad Thai at an authentic Thai night market for a fraction of what you’d pay in your home country. In India, it’s all about the Paneer Butter Masala. Beef Rendang is a must-try cuisine of Malaysia. But what about Myanmar?

Not many travellers head to Myanmar for the food; it doesn’t often strike people as a country with the most mouthwatering cuisine in the world. However, Myanmar should not be underestimated when it comes to food. You can easily travel from north to south and east to west with a satisfied tummy, but somehow still want more.

Whether you book your ticket from Bagan to Yangon or stay put in one Burmese destination, there are a few must-try dishes of Myanmar that you don’t want to miss. Just keep in mind that the people of Myanmar love to deep fry nearly everything, so put away those hopes for sticking to your diet during your time here.

Burmese-Style Curry

Almost every Asian country features some type of curry or another, and Myanmar is no exception. Burmese people are unique in the way they prepare their curry dishes. There are several types of curries to choose from, and each curry dish comes with seemingly never ending side dishes.

If you order your veggie, pork, chicken, beef, or seafood curry at a traditional Burmese restaurant, expect sides on sides on sides. In addition to the large portion of curry, you’ll also be given the typical portion of rice, but that’s not all.

Expect to also be served a tart salad of some sort, a dish of seasonal vegetables (fried, of course), and a bowl of soup. You may also receive a tray of boiled veggies with an assortment of sauces and dips. Needless to say, you won’t leave hungry.

Shan-Style Rice

Rice is a main staple for all people of Asia. It’s cheap, filling, and easy to cultivate. More importantly, though, it’s delicious when prepared properly – and Burmese people know how to prepare it just right, especially the Shan people of Myanmar.

Shan is the largest groups of Buddhists in the country, and you’ll love learning about their culture. You’ll love eating their Nga Htamin rice dish even more. Nga Htamin is prepared with fish flakes (sometimes fish sauce), turmeric, and garlic oil. The rice is rolled into large balls and then fried in the garlic oil. The Burmese consider this to be a snack, but you can easily make a meal out of Nga Htamin.

Tea Leaf Salad

Tea leaf salad is definitely the healthiest Burmese traditional dish to make this list, and it’s also the most versatile. The main ingredient is fermented tea leaves, which are more commonly known as lephet.

On their own, the leaves will taste tart and sometimes bitter, but a tea leaf salad combines many savoury flavours. The leaves are typically mixed with tomatoes, garlic oil, chilis, and you can’t forget the deep-fried beans, nuts, and peas.

Burmese Pancake

Burmese people don’t actually refer to this sweet treat as a pancake, but instead they call it bein mont. It does resemble a pancake though, so many Westerners ask for the “Burmese pancake” when unsure of the official name.

Bein Mont tastes like dessert, but it is not often served as dessert. Instead, you can find street vendors all over Myanmar serving the chewy fluffy pancakes to the hungry locals all throughout the day. The batter is composed mainly of rice, and once the pancake is ready it is often topped with nuts and seeds. It’s the perfect sweet dish without being too sweet.

Tofu Noodles

Travelling to Asia as a vegetarian can be challenging. Nearly all street vendors sell meat skewers of some sort and most curries come with a meat protein, and you can only handle so much tea leaf salad before craving something heartier. You might be tempted to switch to carnivorism, that is until you order Shan-style tofu noodles.

Another dish native to the Shan people of northern Myanmar, this is technically just a big plate of warm tofu, veggies, and rice noodles. The misleading part of tofu noodles, though, is the fact that the tofu isn’t actually tofu. It looks and tastes like tofu, but instead of being made from soybeans it is made from healthier chickpea powder. Here for more foods to find in Myanmar.

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