Eating out in Yangon, Myanmar
Eating out in Myanmar is relatively cheap if you stick to places where the locals eat. The restaurants targeted mainly to tourists, are of no surprise, much more expensive than the local counterparts. International food chains were pretty much non existent when we went which wasn’t a bad thing as it allowed us to get out of our comfort zone and try the local cuisine. Below are a range of places where we ate at, or different food we tried which was a mixture of local and western food and varying price points.
High tea at the Strand
address | 92 Strand Road, Yangon, Myanmar
For a taste of nostalgia, head over to the Strand Hotel for some high tea.
Set inside a beautiful white colonial building built in 1901, its high ceilings detailed with ornate cornices, marbled floors and furnished with rattan tables and chairs, is guaranteed to take you back to the Yangon of yesteryear.
Architecture and aesthetics aside, the Strand also happens to serve some delicious high tea – a traditional style served on white plates on a 3 tier rack, and a Burmese style served in deep black dishes stacked on top of each other.We ordered both and gorged on a variety of sandwiches, pastries, deep fried savoury Burmese morsels and sticky rice desserts- washed down with a pot of English tea.
Street side betel
Although not classified a food as such, I thought I would include this as something to try as it was so prevalent around the streets of Yangon. It seemed like at each street corner, there was a betel vendor selling the bitter leaf combination, or a passing local chewing on the little parcel.
I tried one out of curiosity to see what the hype was all about, but the bitter taste of areca nut, lime scale, tobacco and betel leaf was something I wasn’t accustomed to and didn’t enjoy.
Street food pork skewers
If you’re a fan of the good old pork meat and don’t mind offal, pork offal skewers were pretty popular as a street food.
We were invited by a friend to try the skewers – the meats were either grilled on top of a barbecue, or boiled in broth and served with some hot chilli sauce. I personally, couldn’t stomach the offal as it was a little confronting for me seeing the parts on display.
17 (A) 1st Street | West Shwegondaing, Yangon
Our local friend brought us to this joint located in a small alley for lunch during our stay in Yangon. The place was busy and bustling with locals which was a good sign – and boy it didn’t disappoint. At the front of the store is a buffet counter filled with a wide range of cuisine in stainless steel bowls ranging from curries, stews and soup dishes. It was a great introduction to Burmese food and we highly recommend a visit to this restaurant. We didn’t realise until we got back home from holidays that Lonely Planet also recommends Aung Thukha as one of their top choice restaurants in Yangon.
5 Signal Pagoda Road, Dagon Township, West Central Yangon, Myanmar
If you’re hankering for some western food whilst on holiday, 365 restaurant, is open 24 hours a day and has a good range of both western and traditional asian style food. Desserts and ‘real’ coffee – froth and all – are also available here.
If you’re staying at the Thamada Hotel, this is conveniently located on their ground floor. They also offer complimentary wifi which is a welcome benefit as we found it quite scarce in this part of the world. We highly recommend their garlic and anchovy spaghetti which we came back for a second time!
India has some very obvious influences in the local faire with curries being available in the majority of the places we ate at. We happened to stumble across a restaurant (which I unfortunately didn’t note the name of) serving an assortment of authentic curried vegetables and fish served with rice and other various condiments.
We had a ‘yokomeshi’ moment at the restaurant as the waiter told us in his broken english that one of the dishes was snake- although we guessed he meant eel. I hope.
Lapae Yea – Myanmar tea
Walking around the streets of Yangon, you will most certainly come across road side tea houses. Tea shops varied from established tea houses in buildings serving tea alfresco, or road side joints where crates serve as makeshift chairs and surround small laminate tables. The tea is basically a black tea with varying amounts of condensed milk, depending on how you prefer your tea. As the majority of the tea houses are set up outside, hygiene was my main concern, however if you watch the locals, they will usually rinse their cup with the boiling tea and the second cup of tea they pour is what they will drink.