Best Burmese Food in a City that Draws Inspiration from All Over Asia
In downtown Yangon, “street food” takes on a whole other meaning, as makeshift restaurants spill from sidewalks onto the roads. With more than 135 ethnic groups and borders shared with Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand, it’s safe to say that the cuisine of Myanmar is diverse and eclectic.
A hearty, pungent fish broth is flavored with lemongrass, turmeric and pepper, which swirls around slippery thin glass noodles. The fish is not immediately recognizable; it’s ground with chickpea flour to make a lusciously thick stew usually served for breakfast.
Mont Lin Ma Yar
Roughly translated as “husband and wife snacks,” these tiny bites are a visual delight. Dollops of rice flour batter are added to a large sizzling cast iron pan that resembles a muffin tin. Toppings such as quail eggs, scallions, or roasted chickpeas are added to half of the dollops, and then, like a husband and wife, the two halves are joined to make a little round cake.
19th street between Anawrahta Road and Maha Bandoola Road is Barbecue Street, where storefronts display skewers of meat, vegetables, and fish ready to be rushed back into the kitchen where they’re grilled over intense flames. Grab a plastic basket, fill it with raw skewers, and wait your turn.
Shan cuisine has dozens of variations of a simple noodle dish with a thin broth of fragrant garlic and black pepper. The region’s noodles are usually of the thicker rice variety, and they’re tossed in a sweet and spicy pepper-based sauce with bits of ground pork or chicken. The red pepper sauce is reminiscent of a Thai sweet chili sauce, but here it’s more fragrant, as if mixed with Chinese five-spice powder.
Tea and Fried Snacks
The Burmese teahouse provides so much more than warm beverages and snacks. It’s a place where the people of Yangon come to share the news of the day, discuss politics, and socialize. The tea you’ll find in Yangon is thick and strong, and heavily sweetened with condensed milk and sugar, but the brute force of the black tea cuts right through the dairy and sugar.
Whole samosas are snipped apart with scissors and mixed with fried chickpeas, fried shallots, cabbage, and slices of potatoes. A ladle full of broth is added to the salad, making this more of a soup than a salad. Ask for the chili flakes and prepare to be assaulted with bits of salty, sweet, crunchy, and soft, as the crispy samosa crust gives in to the citrusy broth around it.
This southern Indian pancake is made with a batter of fermented ground lentils and rice. A thin layer of batter is spread quickly inside a concave metal pot over hot coals, and the back of a ladle is used in a circular motion to ensure the dosa is evenly cooked. The vendor then adds chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, less than a dollar, and you can walk away with a crispy snack any time of day.
No. (341) Pyay Road, Sanchaung Township, Yangon, Myanmar