The first thing I noticed about food in Myanmar was quite simply how many dishes were brought out to us every time we sat down to eat. It didn’t matter whether what we had ordered, our meal always came with a side of about eight to 10 dishes.
Myanmar, or Burmese, food is heavily influenced by its neighbours – think China, India and Thailand – but with a taste all of its own, of course.
Unlike Indian meals, which are often vegetarian, meat is a delicacy in Myanmar and most meals, whether a curry, salad or soup, are served with some kind of meat.
But knowing what to eat can be tricky, it’s a cuisine that is not all that common outside of Myanmar, so here are our tips to help you navigate the menu with a little more confidence.
Lahpet – Tea leaf salad
This is one of the most popular foods in Myanmar. Tea, yes tea, is used as a delicacy. You’ll see tea houses dotted throughout the country, and it’s worth stopping for a cup, of course, but Myanmar is also one of the few countries in the world where they use tea leaves to create a salad. The leaves are pickled and served with lima beans, chick peas, tomatoes, peanuts and ginger.
It is often served at ceremonies or for special occasions and really, isn’t travel always a special occasion?
Shan Rice or Shan noodles
Served with fish, Shan Rice is a tasty side that will have you hooked. The fish is generally crispy and the rice cooked with saffron, roasted peanuts and seasonal vegetables. Unlike most of the rice dishes we eat in the west, Shan rice is quite oily.
It can be eaten as a snack, or with sides as part of a main meal in Myanmar.
Shan noodles are a national favourite. The sticky rice noodles are served with either chicken or pork, tomato puree, onions and spices and topped with vegetables. The noodles are often served at breakfast, but can be eaten throughout the day for a snack or side dish.
Mohinga is apparently the unofficial national dish, made from rice vermicelli with fish broth, onions, garlic, lemongrass and banana stem and served with boiled eggs and fish cakes.
It is usually eaten at breakfast and is considered a ‘street food’.
If you like Pho, you’ll probably be a fan of this too.
And since you’ll most likely be on holidays when you’re trying it, you really can eat it at any time of the day!
Let Thohk Sohn
A delicious salad made from shredded green papaya, shredded carrot, ogonori sea moss and wheat noodles.
Ok, it may not sound delicious, but trust us this is one of the most popular salad dishes in Myanmar, one that’s worth trying while you’re there.
You can get mangsteen in other South East Asian countries, of course. It’s native to this part of the world and its exact roots aren’t known, but do try it while you’re in Myanmar.
The fruit is sweet and tangy, and quite juicy. Don’t eat the skin, instead peal out the centre like you would a rambutan.
Delicious after you’ve eaten all that curry, or simply need a sweet pick up during the day.
Feeling hungry and want to try the Burmese cuisine for yourself? Check out our Magical Myanmar tour here.