Myanmar’s cuisine is as varied and distinctive as the country itself. While sharing many of the culinary traditions of neighbouring Thailand, it encompasses a wealth of dishes and flavours found nowhere else – a legacy of Myanmar’s position as the cultural crossroads of Southeast Asia. Chinese influence is seen in the ubiquity of noodles and clear, sour soups, while the popularity of Indian curries, breads, and fried snacks dates from the period of British rule. Myanmar offers a veritable feast of flavours for the adventurous palate.
15 Must Try Tastes in Myanmar
Traditional Burmese Meal
If you’re sitting down to a traditional Burmese meal expect to order a curry (fresh fish, chicken, pork etc…) which arrives to the table accompanied by a variety of salads (known as thoke). Curries are served alongside steamed rice, a bowl of broth, lahpet (pickled tea leaves), ngapi (fish paste) and tiny bowls of thoke such as fish sauce spiked tomato stew, curried potato, steamed eggplant, spicy green beans, sprouted white beans, sweet pumpkin and chickpea tofu. The meal pictured above was just $2!
Sticky Shan Noodles with Pork are wide and flat, and feature in the very popular, spicy, tomato-based stew that takes their name.
Many Burmese dishes carry the scents and flavours of neighbouring India and China. For Myanmar’s Ginger Salad, the dried shrimp of Yunnan, the part of China that borders Myanmar, mingle with crisped shallots, tangy lime and crunchy roasted peanuts for wild contrast and crunch.
Fermented tea-leaf salad was the weirdest dish I came across and surprisingly my favourite find. It’s a textured dream featuring crunchy fried peas, garlic, chilies, tomatoes, crushed shrimp, lime, ginger and peanut oil.
Chickpea Tofu is a softer variety to the more common soybean. Lightly deep fried and dipped in a refreshing muddling of soya sauce, fish sauce, vinegar and green onions.
Head to Yangon’s China Town for a street food feast where diners devour platters of authentic Chinese Food al fresco on bustling street. You’ll find plenty of street-side Chinese BBQ stalls (spot the endless array of satay skewers) as well as classics like fried rice, stir fried noodles and sweet and sour pork.
Myanmar Beer is the country’s iconic brew, a light lager perfect when you need a thirst quench on a hot day.
Mohinga, the national dish, a rice noodle and fish soup features chickpea and toasted rice, garlic, onions, lemongrass, banana tree stem, ginger and catfish.
Burmese Tea offers a sweet morning treat which can be attributed to Indian influences from British colonial rule. Burmese black tea is steeped and muddled with condensed milk to offer a sweet cup worth waking up to.
Tropical Fruit can be found throughout Myanmar’s bustling markets. There’s nothing better than biting into juicy fresh fruit so be sure to try local favourites such as melon, banana, dragon fruit, guava, and mango.
It’s perhaps no shocker that Indian Food is a popular staple in Myanmar (the two countries share a border and long history with each other). Yangon is a particularly great city to enjoy an Indian feast as there are plenty of immigrant families here who serve up hot chai, spicy curry, dosa, dhal, and chapati.
Burmese Fish Curry with Tomato Gravy is a classic dish you’ll find anywhere along Myanmar’s coastline. Local kitchens source the catch of the day straight from fishing boats on the coast and slowly cook fresh fillet’s with a rich and flavourful broth.
Mandalay Rum is Myanmar’s only home grown distillery. The bottle is clearly a knock off of Johnnie Walker as it seems the brand team skipped out on a design budget. The aged rum is produced up north in Mandalay and used by many of the country’s top bartenders in lime and mint muddled mojito’s.
Tomato Salad is a deliciously refreshing amalgam of tomato and onion in a sweet and spicy peanut sauce.
Pumpkin Curry with Coconut Rice is the most delicious vegetarian option you’ll find in Myanmar. Huge wedges of acorn squash are simmered in a herb muddled curry and served with sweet coconut rice topped with crispy onions.