Food in Myanmar is a blend of South East Asian, Chinese, Indian and various internal ethnic influences, with rice the key component of most meals. If you are planning to stay in Myanmar for longer time, here is our guide on how to eat in Myanmar.
Myanmar has a myriad of dishes largely unique to the country, such as mohinga, a fish based soup normally eaten at breakfast and considered the national dish, laphat thote, a tea leaf salad, and the ever-delicious Shan noodles.
You can buy cheap meals on the street at very low cost all over the country (from 30 cents upwards). The majority of restaurants in Myanmar have a selection of pre-cooked dishes displayed, which makes indicating your choice easier. You just need to point out the dishes you want to eat. If you like some dishes, you can ask your local friend about it’s name.
And some of the restaurants have a menu in English which also display dishes in images, so it will be easier for you to choose what you want.
One of the Myanmar customs is “tea shop”. You will find many tea shop within your area in Myanmar. These tea shops are not the same like coffee shop in other country. They serve variety of foods range from breakfast to dinner set. Most of the time, tea shops are crowded with local people, watching football match at television screen or chit chatting with each other. Tea shops are one of the best place to enjoy Premier league football match in Myanmar.
In the larger cities upscale restaurants are available serving all varieties of food, including good Western, Japanese and Korean food. Quality of food and standards of hygiene in all types restaurants is variable and Myanmar food can be very oily – ask for recommendations where possible.
For cooking at home, most common foodstuffs are available at local markets, including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, along with various condiments and dried goods. Again, hygiene is an issue, but goods are usually fresh. Imported western goods are available from some larger supermarkets in Myanmar, though costs are often higher other countries.
The diversity of products on offer, particularly the range of dairy products available, decreases outside of the larger cities.
Tap water is not safe to drink – you should drink bottled and filtered water, which is available in high capacity containers very cheaply. You can ask the shop to arrange to deliver these water bottle to your home at some small cost. Tea and coffee is widely consumed, though the latter will often be instant.
Alcohol consumption is increasing, with beer and whiskey the two most popular drinks. Myanmar beer fares well in comparisons with other beers in the region. Cheap local whiskey is less pleasant, though imported bottles of whiskey and other alcohols are available at a premium. Wine from local wine industry is also famous with amazing taste.
New bars and pubs are opening in most of the places especially in Yangon. Most of the bars and pubs in Yangon are expat friendly, some of them are intentionally attract expat community at their place.
Myanmar has a good selection of vegetarian food, though it requires knowing how to ask for it and where to look. In many areas people are too poor to afford meat so they live in a mostly vegetarian diet anyway.
You are guaranteed to find vegetarian food in areas populated largely by Myanmar of Indian origin. In the larger cities establishments in these areas are often referred to as chetty restaurants. Otherwise, the most basic form of vegetarian meal you will find is fried rice – htamein gyaw – with beans or fried egg. This is common breakfast food.
In addition, it is often possible to request sautéed vegetables – a seing gyaw.
Myanmar food also has a rich variety of salads, which are served with raw onions, peanuts and peanut oil and often a little bit of chilli. They can occasionally have small dried prawns in them and so check before ordering if you do not eat fish. The word for prawns is ‘bezoun’. Because hygiene standards in Myanmar are not very high, you should be careful while eating salads especially from street side shops.
The word for vegetarian is ‘that that loot’ which means ’without meat and fish’ . And you can ask “that that loot hinn” for vegetarian curry.