8 Burmese Food and Drinks You Must Try
Find out all you need to know about the best Burmese food and drinks before your trip.
Burmese food is similar to other Southeast Asian cuisines in the way that it depends on the principles of Ying-Yang balance and the five tastes. Its flavor pallete consists of elements from India, China, and Thailand. Meals are usually multi-dish, and the dishes are simultanously served. Rice is the staple of every table, accompanied by curry, fried vegetables, and myriad dip sauces. Tackling the food scene in Myanmar can be quite challenging due to a variety of tastes and dishes. Make sure you know all the essentials about Burmese food and drinks. Before you arrive, also keep in mind these Burmese food tips:
Must-Try Burmese Foods
Here are the top dishes of the Burmese food scene that will help you eat like a local:
It may look too complex for a breakfast dish at first, but give Mohinga a try and it will make your morning a whole lot better. Locals say that it is Myanmar’s unofficial national dish. Rightfully so, it is served from dawn till dusk at every restaurant type. Rice noodles merge with boiled eggs, banana stems, and deep-fried veggies in a rich shallot-based broth in Mohinga. There are infinite variations, so you will get to choose the ingredients yourself. Try it at breakfast like the locals, or enjoy it at any time of day at the street stalls.
Tea Leaf Salad
Myanmar has a worldwide reputation on consuming tea leaves regularly. And, Burmese food has its share of the most common local product, as well. Tea leaf salad is the most iconic dish, having been an important element of Burmese society for centuries. Fermented (or pickled) tea leaves named ‘lephet’ are the main ingredient of this versatile dish. They get mixed with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, peanuts, beans, garlic oil, and chilis. It entered the Burmese cuisine as a tea party staple, but nowadays you will find the aromatic tea leaf salad in eateries and tea shops.
Originated in the ethnic Shan tribes of Northern Myanmar, these noodles are as traditional as it gets. They are sticky rice noodles with chicken or pork, tomatoe puree, and a strong kick of garlic topped with vegetables. You can have it for lunch or dinner as a fulfilling meal in almost every restaurant across Myanmar. But, for the true authentic experience of Shan noodles, try them in Inle Lake. You can also order a dry version of Shan Noodles with the broth served on the side.
Burmese curry is very similar to other curry dishes in the rest of Southeast Asia in the way that it is an entire culinary experience rather than a single dish. A pork or beef curry will be what you order, and a full table of side dishes from soup to dip sauces and vegetables are what you will get. Burmese curry is an absolute must to experience most of the unique flavors of Myanmar at one go. If you are lucky, you may even get a dessert when you finish.
Not so different from any other noodle dish, coconut noodles feature a thick and juicy coconut milk broth that will warm you up inside like no other. It is wheat noodles usually, but you will find rice noodles too, depending on the restaurant. Curry, onions, and a rich mix of spices give it some color, perfectly complementing the sweet taste of the coconut cream. If you don’t consume coconut milk, you can simply order one with evaporated milk. A dry dish also exists, in which the noodles are cooked in coconut milk gravy and drained.
Burmese Semolina Cake
This plain but delicious dessert is the most popular sweet across Myanmar. Grab it on the go or sit at a cafe and savor it slowly accompanied by some delicious Burmese tea or black coffee. Strong beverages balance the sweet flavor of the cake perfectly. Sanwin makin consists of semolina flour, coconut cream, poppy seeds and cardamom that make it unique among other cakes. If you are traveling to Myanmar during the festival season, you will come across this diamond-cut cakes everywhere, so trying is a must.
Must-Try Burmese Drinks
The exquisite palm wine of Myanmar is a traditional token across the Burmese land, from the cities to the translucent countryside. The legendary toddy tappers climb 40 meters high on the toddy palms and tap the palm for fermented sap. It is special in the way that the sap undergoes natural fermentation with the yeast in the tree. It usually has a short shelf life, so make sure you try the freshest toddy. Bagan is a wonderful place to also connect with the locals who produce it.
Myanmar has a wide selection of local beers and breweries. They are mostly lager and available at most touristic spots. Myanmar beer is among the most popular brands and has a craft beer variety. Dagon and Mandalay beers are also favorites, but feel free to try other brands while you are there. Yangon is at the forefront of Myanmar’s alcohol scene, so make sure you explore its bustling pubs and breweries.
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