Tasty, Myanmar: Getting Acquainted with Burmese Cuisine


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When people think of Asian cuisine, Burmese cuisine would rarely be top-of-mind.

Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been closed off from the rest of the world for decades. And while it has opened its doors in recent years, it’s still not getting as much tourists as its neighboring countries. It’s probably one of the reasons why Burmese cuisine is still not that popular.

When you do decide to visit, you’ll be treated to a variety of dishes influenced by Indian, Chinese, Laotian, and Thai cuisines. Myanmar owes this to its geographical location.

Burmese cuisine
My order (expectation)
Burmese cuisine
A Burmese feast! (reality)

In the first few hours of arriving in the country, my friends and I sat down at a restaurant. We thought the menu was pretty straightforward. You just have to choose a curry set (choice of chicken, pork, beef, fish, mutton, or venison meat), and that’s it.

But when our orders arrived, it came with bowls of soup, a plethora of side dishes, and a huge plate of fresh vegetables with dipping sauce. Needless to say, we were overwhelmed.

And did I mention they served unlimited rice and even free dessert? Now, that’s bang for your buck.

Burmese cuisine
Compared to Indian curries, Burmese curries use only a handful of spices…and probably more oil.

Honestly, I was a bit worried about food before coming to Myanmar. One, because I don’t eat vegetables, and two, I don’t like hot and spicy food. But Burmese curry, albeit oily, just had the right heat and spiciness for me.

Burmese cuisine
Fresh vegetables often served with dipping sauce (ngapi yay)
Burmese cuisine
Some of the side dish served at a restaurant in Bagan
Burmese cuisine
One of the guesthouses we stayed at served this vegetarian breakfast. To my surprise, I finished the whole plate.

When it comes to salads, Myanmar has a unique take on it.

Their salads can contain tea leaves, rice, noodles, and fish paste among others. Also, the ingredients vary per state and/or season.

Burmese cuisine Burmese cuisine

On our way to Taung Kalat Monastery (Mt. Popa), we stopped by a roadside stall where they showed us how they make palm sugar candy and palm liquor. We were even served tea and Laphet Thoke.

laphet thoke
Laphet Thoke or tea leaf salad

Laphet Thoke is probably the most popular salad in Burmese cuisine. It consists of pickled tea leaves with a dash of oil, served with crispy peas and beans, fried garlic, and roasted peanuts.

This is like a party in your mouth. It’s sweet and sour with a slight bitter taste then there’s the soft texture of the tea leaves and the crunchiness of the peas/beans.

Obviously, there’s still so much that we haven’t tried. I guess we’ll have to save it for another trip.

If you’re a foodie, I highly encourage you to visit Myanmar. You won’t regret it.

 

This is my entry to Agoda Partners’ Write & Win Contest. 

2 thoughts on “Tasty, Myanmar: Getting Acquainted with Burmese Cuisine

  1. How the contest go? I’m also a fan of food in Myanmar but tend to go down the Indian food route 🙂 We also went on that Mount Popa trip. The toddy was fantastic 😀 Hard to climb the stairs after tho 😀

    1. Hi! Didn’t win the contest, but it’s alright. 😀

      I have very limited experience with Indian food, but I assume it would be close to Nepali cuisine? I liked the food in Nepal.

      Mount Popa was a hard climb for me despite being sober. :p

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