By Amanda Little
No matter where you go in the world, you'll be able to find incredible food. However, it's easy to miss the best dishes. Once you've toured the beautiful temples and natural wonders of Myanmar, give these dishes a try.
Any trip to Myanmar should include a bowl of mohinga, a popular staple throughout the country. It's a simple dish of rice noodles covered in a fish-based broth, topped with deep-fried fritters. Of course, variations of this dish are abundant, with additions like lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, lentils, and vegetables. It’s a filling dish, without the usual oily saturation that accompanies many food items in Myanmar.
Biryani is a dish centered around mixed rice, but ingredients for this savory dish vary by region. It can be enjoyed with chicken, fish, mutton or prawn, and of course is served with a wonderful array of vegetables. The yellow color of the rice stems from the saffron used in cooking it.
Laphet Thohk (Green Tea Salad)
Laphet Thohk is a dish that is famous throughout Myanmar because it is a dish composed mainly of fermented tea leaves. Myanmar is one of the few countries in the world that eats tea leaves on top of drinking tea. The dish is slightly bitter, so it's served with shredded cabbage, crunchy deep-fried beans, sliced tomatoes, nuts, peas, and a bit of garlic oil to cut the bitter or sour flavor. It's also wonderful for a caffeine kick!
Made up of a fermented rice and lentil batter and spread thin over a large, flat, iron skillet, dosa accompanies many foods throughout Myanmar's cuisine, as well as several countries in the surrounding area. Thin and pancake like, dosa goes particularly well with curry as it soaks up all of its delicious flavor.
This fermented shrimp paste comes in a few forms. It can be lightly salted or very salty, watery or paste-like, and even vary the main ingredient between ocean fish or freshwater fish. Ngapi can be used like a condiment, almost like a dip, or be mixed into food for flavoring. Popular in hearty soups, ngapi can be found mostly in southern and western Myanmar.
Burmese curry tends to be on the milder side because of how long it is cooked and the amount of oil used in it, which breaks down the harshness of the chilis used in the dish. Sometimes, oil is even added to the top of the dish, making it a wonderfully filling meal. Of course, curry couldn’t be enjoyed without heaps of rice, meats such as fish, pork, beef, shrimp, or mutton, and fried or fresh vegetables.
Stop by at any of the dozens of stalls lining the streets to find some of the best food around, from rice pancakes dipped in sesame seeds and jaggery, skewers of pork offal, vegetarian dosas, Chinese dumplings, fresh fruit, sweet snacks, and more. And all of this is found on just one block.
Sweets and Pastries
Sweets throughout the world tend to be very different from the sugar-crazed candies found in the states, but the sweet dishes of Burma are particularly different. Known collectively as moun, these sweet snacks are usually enjoyed with tea in the morning or afternoon. Most often, they rely on natural flavors to sweeten their rice flour base, like coconut, raisins, tapioca, and fresh fruit.
Stop into the popular local tea shops for a true Myanmar experience. Dig into the tradition of the area with a noodle or rice dish, steamed buns or dumplings, indulge in the savory fried snacks that are a country-wide favorite, and accompany it with cups of sweet, milky tea. Any tea shop with their salt is essentially a quick 101 course of what the area specialises in.
Shan-style "Tofu" Noodles
Tofu noodles in Myanmar don’t actually have tofu in them. Instead, a porridge made from chickpea flour is poured over thin rice noodles and chicken or pork. It's served with chili oil, pickled vegetables, and broth. It’s an odd taste to have in this savory dish, but those who are willing to try it usually find it a favorite dish while traveling.