With many travelers, the cuisine is the most interesting and enjoyable way to explore any country. And while a mysterious place like Myanmar is raising as a totally new and trendy destination in the land of Indochina with rich culture and history, a culinary trip in this land is totally worth a try. Below are the top 9 must-try foods in Myanmar which are the most typical Burmese dishes and should be at the top list of any traveler who comes to Myanmar.
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This is the top must-eat appetizer in Myanmar and you can’t find the authentic Lephet anywhere but only in Myanmar. Lephet in Burmese means fermented tea leaves. After making tea, the leftover leaves were kept and fermented, so they have a soft sour with a little bitter taste. Lephet can be eaten as a snack or a sub-dish with rice; however, it is absolutely perfect as an appetizer which has no sauce and only the fresh taste of vegetables such as cabbage, tomato, beans accompanied with the special flavor of fermented tea leaf, garlic and hot chili pepper stimulate the taste of diners. Please note that you shouldn’t eat too much Lephet as the caffeine of tea leaves can make it hard to sleep at night or you may have insomnia for one night because of a big bowl of Tealeaf Salad.
Burmese Tea Leaf Salad - Lephet
Although it is sold all day long everywhere in the country, the Fish Noodle – Mohinga is still the best breakfast to start a day in Myanmar. It is said that, in big cities like Yangoon and Mandalay, the hawkers can sell hundreds of Mohinga bowls each day to the locals and tourists which definitely can prove that this is a signature Burmese dish.
Burmese Fish Noodle - Mohinga
As its name, Mohinga's main ingredients are noodles and fish accompanied by the special fish soup, other spices include chickpea powder, garlic, red onion, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, etc. And don’t worry about the fishbone that may be left in each fish slice, catfish is used in Mohinga so it is not easy to find any fishbone in your Fish Noodle bowl.
People call Nan Gyi Thohk noodles the “Burmese spaghetti” which also includes noodles and sauce. However, the noodle here is made from rice powder and chicken curry sauce. This dish may be a little salty and spicy so there are lemons and onions available to add in; besides, as this is a quite dry dish so it also is accompanied by a small bowl of broth. Other toppings for Nan Gyi Thohk noodles are fish cake, hard-boiled egg, onions, chilies, and crispy noodles. In addition, some pieces of lemons or limes are also available to help diners lower the fatty taste of this dish, make it easier to eat.
Nan Gyi Thohk Noodles - Burmese "Spaghetti"
Seems like noodle is one of the most popular cooking ingredients in Myanmar. Shan Tofu Noodle is another must-try Burmese dish that comes from Shan people who is the ethnic minority in the North of Myanmar. Different from other types of noodles in this country, Shan Tofu Noodle can be a vegetarian dish with only noodles, tofu, and herbs, so if you cannot eat meat or are on diet, Shan Tofu Noodle is absolutely a signature Burmese dish for you! On the other hand, with people who are meat lovers, you can ask for some pork or chicken topping, and don’t worry if you can have the topping or not as even the locals also ask for it. Besides, please note that the “tofu” in Shan Noodles is not made from soybean as the “tofu” that you have heard, Burmese “tofu” made from chickpea and green bean, so if you have any allergy to these ingredients, don’t try this dish.
Burmese Shan Tofu Noodles
If you are trying to find a familiar dish in Myanmar after a few days of experiencing new things, Burmese Curry should be your top choice! Curry has been existing in many countries around the world and it has different tastes in each place; however, it can be denied that curry dishes are easy to eat and suitable for most tastes. Why Burmese Curry is a must-try dish in Myanmar while the curry is so popular around the world? The answer may be because of its light and elegant taste of Burmese Curry. Different from the strong flavor of the popular Indian-style Curry, Burmese Curry uses less curry powder and its flavor is a mix of curry, garlic, ginger, and onion. In most Burmese Restaurants (where you can easily find fine Burmese Curry), you can choose the meat inside the curry among pork, beef, chicken, mutton, and seafood – convenient multiple choices for your taste. Another special thing about eating Burmese Curry is that it is accompanied by some other signature dishes in Myanmar such as Tealeaf Salad (Lephet) – the must-eat Burmese appetizer and traditional desserts like some chunks of palm sugar and nuts, all is served in a lacquered box.
Burmese Style Chicken Curry
It seems like the Shan culinary affects the Burmese cuisine a lot, therefore many signature dishes of Myanmar are from the Shan community. Shan-style rice is also known as Nga Htamin or Fish Rice and if you love spicy things, this dish is totally for you!
Shan Style Rice - Nga Htamin - Special Burmese Fish Rice
At the first sight, Shan-style rice is quite simple which includes the lovely yellow rice (cooked with turmeric), the fish with sauce is hidden inside the rice, and topped with deep-fried garlic. It is easy to see that, the soul of this dish comes from the fish filling inside which is cooked perfectly with turmeric, garlic oil, tomatoes, hot chili pepper, and fish sauce then wrap in the rice, and to raise the aroma of the dish, a spoon of garlic oil is also added as a topping of the dish.
You can find different kinds of deep-fried dishes on every street & corner in Myanmar which shows how much Burmese love deep-fried stuff. From savory fritters such as spring roll, prawns, dumpling, and many types of vegetable: onion, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables to sweet snacks like the different type of cakes and breaded fruits, street hawkers and vendors will satisfy you by a full meal of deep-fried dishes from appetizers and main dishes to desserts.
Deep-Fried Dishes sold widely on Myanmar streets
There are a variety of Burmese Sweet Snacks sold on streets in Myanmar and as they are the necessary part of the locals, it is definitely a must-try dish in this land. If you are a sweet lover, you may find out that these snacks are not so sweet as you think because the locals usually don’t use sugar on these dishes and the natural sweet from ingredients is mostly used such as fruits, raisin, coconut milk, grated coconut, etc. Having less sugar and made from natural ingredients, Burmese Sweet Snacks are the perfect choice for an afternoon break on your long travel day.
Burmese Sweet Snacks - must-try foods for an afternoon in Myanmar
If you have time, Myanmar has many tea houses, especially in the big city and as tea time is a special part of Burmese culture, spend time enjoying a tea shop is also a must-try experience in this country.
Busy local tea shop in Myanmar
Tea time in Myanmar is in the middle of the morning or afternoon when people need a break after a few hours of working and it also the busiest time of tea shops. There is 2 main style of tea shops in Myanmar, the normal Burmese tea house and the ones serving Halah food. Just like the British afternoon tea, most tea shops in Myanmar serve both sweet and savory food with tea; however, the amount of food usually bases on guests’ orders and it is not a full set like the British style. Halal tea breaks can be found in many Indian or Arabic style tea shops mostly available in the big cities like Yangoon and Mandalay. And if you are an Asian and trying to find a tea shop which is more familiar with you, there is also some Chinese style tea houses which also serve Chinese dumpling and sweets.
A typical Burmese tea shop meal
Above are the top must-try dishes in Myanmar, there are a lot more delicious Burmese local foods waiting for travelers around the world to come and taste in this beautiful and mysterious country. Make a plan for your vacation in Myanmar now and has an unforgettable culinary experience!
(Image sources: Internet)