What To Eat In Yangon
Traveling to Myanmar can be overwhelming. There is so much to take in and experience while you are there, the people, the culture and of course the food.
Food has to be one of my favorite things about traveling. Every country is so unique and different as to what types of foods they eat. What foods they are not allowed to eat.
How they eat can vary as well. As to whether they eat with their hands, chop-sticks, or cutlery as we are used to. Whether they mainly eat at home or if they have a culture that mainly eats out.
Food is such an important part of the culture of where you are traveling to, it is important to fully dive in and experience it as a local would.
Traveling around Asia, you will learn pretty quick, that they love street food. Not only do they love street food, but they also love spicy food. Myanmar was no exception to this rule.
I normally love spicy food. Nothing beats a good spicy curry or a fiery salsa. But the spice level in Myanmar was on another level. I found their food to be even spicier than their famous neighbor Thailand.
If you are not a fan of spicy food, make sure you ask for non-spicy food, as everything tends to come spicy.
Here is a list of the best food in Yangon. And why you should enjoy the local and their local street food.
1.Mohinga (Fish Soup)
This is considered the national dish of Myanmar and is normally eaten in the morning for breakfast. Yes, fish soup does not sound the most appealing for breakfast. But this was hands down my favorite dish in Myanmar. It tasted nothing like fish and oddly reminded me of corn flakes. It was a warm bothy soup that is thickened with chickpea flour and comes with rice noodles, a boiled egg, onions, garlic, chilis, and fried corn fritters. They call it fish head soup, but depending on what region you are in, it doesn’t always come with fish. As I said, it tasted nothing like fish. Grab a bowl on the streets in the morning and enjoy it with locals before they head to work.
2. Shan Noodles
Another super popular dish all throughout Myanmar. Even though this dish comes from the Shan region of Myanmar, it is widely eaten throughout the whole country. This was another brothy noodle dish that I ate almost every day throughout my time in Myanmar. It can be served with meat or vegetarian. It is served for breakfast, but locals tend to eat this one all day long. The broth on it is not as thick as mohinga, but the flavors are mouth-watering and you can also enjoy it with no broth at all. Most places will let you build your own dish, picking out just how many noodles you want and what else you want to add to it. You can not leave without trying this dish.
3. Skewers- BBQ
Nothing beats street food, like good old fashioned BBQ. And in Yangon, there is plenty to be had. It’s hard to walk down a street and not see BBQ and Skewers on almost every corner. However, in Yangon 19th street is probably the most popular with the tourists. If you want to avoid the tourist crowd head down to any other street and you will find Myanmar BBQ. Just select what you would like to eat and you pay per skewer. So you can eat as much or as little as you would like. Most skewers are around $1 – $2, but it depends on the cut and kind of meat you pick out. Enjoy the true BBQ culture and watch it down with a Myanmar beer for around $1.
4. Ohn No Khaut Swal (Coconut Noodle Soup)
This was probably my second favorite dish I had in Myanmar, just after the Mohinga. I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of a coconut noodle dish they have in Northern Thailand, but thankfully it was not as spicy. This was probably the first dish I had in Yangon, that wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. The creamy coconut broth was seasoned just perfectly, not too spicy and not too sweet. Also, it actually came with real noodles in it compared to the rice noodles that are served in every other dish. It also came with lime, cilantro, and crispy corn fritters to give it a little crunch and texture.
5. Mote Lin Ma Yar
I couldn’t get enough of these little guys. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. They make the perfect snack for when walking around the streets of Yangon. Made with a coconut batter with fermented chickpeas and green onions on the inside. The batter is poured into small little balls in hot oil of a cast-iron skillet, just enough to cook the outside crispy. They are then flipped to cook the other side, creating small little balls with a juicy doughy inside. Making them the perfect afternoon snack to tide you over. They are also a nice treat when you are tired of noodles.
6. Lahpet Thoke (Fermented Tea Leaf Salad)
This was quite a unique and interesting taste. Especially compared to the other dishes I had while I was in Myanmar. I have never heard of eating tea leaves before. But since I was in Myanmar, I wanted to eat what the locals were eating. When the tea leaves are harvested, most are dried to make tea. However, in Myanmar some of the leaves are kept fresh. They then ferment the tea leaves along with cabbage to make a salad. The tea leaves still have a caffeine effect. And since you are eating them and not drinking them, so feel more the effects of the caffeine. This salad gives you energy. Along with the fermented tea leaves, they mix tomatoes, roasted peanuts, fried garlic and of course lots of chilis.
7. Myay Oae Mhee Shay (Clay Pot Noodles)
It is hard to go a day in Myanmar without eating some sort of noodle dish. It took me about 3 weeks before I started getting sick of noodles because they are able to do this dish is so many different and unique ways. The clay pot noodles were different because they were a thick rice noodle, whereas most of the other dishes were a thin rice noodle. Since they were cooked in a clay pot it tended to be a heavier dish, almost more like a pasta with an Asian taste to it. And you had your choice of having them with chicken or pork.
8. Fried Chicken
Yangon has some of the best street food around, and their fried chicken is mouth-watering good. It was so easy just to pick some up while you walked around town looking at pagodas and checking out the circular train. You are able to pick out a piece for under $1. It is hard to understand how KFC is even in Yangon when you can find this chicken everywhere. The fried chicken on the street is served with a sweet chili sauce, which gives it just the right combination of spicy and sweet. It is so crispy on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. If you are in Yangon, don’t forget to try their fried chicken. They will also give you fried chicken skin as you wait for your chicken to cook.
9. Steamed Bao Buns
You can find these pillows of love all through-out Myanmar. When you are eating out at a local restaurant, they will put them on your table while you wait for your food. And will only charge you if you eat them. They also sell them on every street corner and in all convient stores. You can’t miss them and you must try them. They make a great snack or a meal on there own. LIght fluffy dough on the inside, and perfectly seasoned pulled pork or chicken on the inside.
Myanmar has an interesting blend of cuisine. It is highly influenced by Asia, but also India. When you are tired of its Asian influence, enjoy the Indian side. Yangon had some of the best street samosas around. Samosas are a potato curry wrapped in a light dough and then deep-fried. They are not too spicy, so if you are looking for that extra kick eat them with some fried chilis. They were so good and so cheap, I made sure to eat them every day.
If you are still not sure what to eat in Yangon, Myanmar, just get out and walk the streets. You will find tons of locals enjoying the local cuisine. They will point you in the right direction.
I always follow the locals when I am traveling and eat where they eat. Not only does this ensure you eat at the best places in town, but it’s also how you save money. Locals don’t eat where the food is overpriced, and they especially don’t eat where the food isn’t tasty. Follow the locals and you will be safe.