“The world is curious about Myanmar.” – U Htay Aung
Be selective when choosing street food
Getting ready for traveling to Asian countries, we read a lot about fantastic street food in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Also, we learned enough about the dangers of eating street food in third world countries.
From our interactions with other tourists, we knew how many Westerners were afraid of eating fruits and vegetables in those countries. Even when they were served in first-class hotels and restaurants, they refused to touch anything uncooked.
So far, after visiting the countries mentioned above, plus China, Morocco, and India, we did not get sick despite eating fresh local fruits and vegetables. And of course, we did not plan to touch the street food in Myanmar. We wanted to spend all our time sightseeing and not wasting it on recovering from the stomach bug.
We went to Myanmar with a guided tour group. Our itinerary included many meals at the places which were safe for tourists. Since some lunches were not provided, occasionally we had to find food ourselves.
We always asked the recommendation at the hotel or from our tour guide. The result was a great trip, superb food, and two happy and healthy tummies.
While traveling in Myanmar, we ate Burmese curry almost every day. Because of its variety, we never had the same curry twice. It can be made with fish, shrimp, beef or pork. It automatically comes with an array of small side dishes. These dishes, mostly vegetables, varied from place to place.
Spring rolls. We had them only once. The Burmese love to eat fried food, but we don’t. Spring rolls are delicious but too greasy for us to enjoy them without feeling guilty.
Mohinga is one of the famous Burmese dishes. Basically, it is rice noodles in fish broth. The ingredients that make it uniquely Burmese are shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and fish sauce.
Following the tradition, deep-fried fritters are sprinkled on top. In all the places we visited in Myanmar,
In all Asian countries, tofu is a chief source of protein. However, we never expected to find tofu as the main ingredient in a salad. In Myanmar, we ate tofu salad with chickpeas, fried garlic, onions, turmeric. It was an unusual, but healthy and delicious combination of ingredients.
Another unfamiliar dish for us was tea leaf salad. It is made with pickled tea leaves (we did not know that the tea leaves are edible), tomatoes, shredded cabbage, peas, nuts. For the dressing, they use the garlic oil which adds a distinctive flavor.
Some other great dishes in Myanmar
As much as we tried to avoid eating deep fried food, we couldn’t resist deep fried stuffed tofu after we took a first cautious bite. The tofu was stuffed with dried shrimp, cabbage, and garlic. The dressing was made with garlic oil, fish sauce, and tamarind juice. Everything was chopped into tiny pieces, and it was difficult to guess what was inside. We had to ask the waiter about the ingredients in these tasty little pockets of crispy tofu.
Shan-style noodles was another favorite. These are rice noodles in a tasty broth with either pork or chicken, with a small bowl of pickled vegetables on the side.
Freshwater fish cooked with coconut milk. It was served to us during lunch on the Lake Inle. We were taken by the boat from our hotel to see the legendary temples. In the middle of this all-day tour, we stopped for lunch. The fried fish that our whole group gobbled up was caught the same day from Lake Inle. It was and was served with a lot of small dishes on the side.
Fish rice is called Shan-style rice. It is made with turmeric rice, flakes of freshwater fish and garlic oil.
In addition to eating a lot of exotic fruits, we indulged in Burmese desserts. The most familiar to us was Burmese sticky rice. They make it with coconut milk. The shredded coconut goes on top.