(Burmese Food Experience, Buffet All The Way!)
My time travel in Myanmar would not be complete without talking about their food, and before I can even talk about it, I have to experience it. So you’re asking how was it? Burmese Food Experience, Buffet All The Way!
Well, my first day in Myanmar was an hour taxi ride to the guesthouse and because of that I interviewed the nice and smiley taxi driver about the basics. What is the current conversion from US Dollar to Kyat, normal prices of street food to restaurant prices, places must-see, and the popular local food. It was in Yangon, the city where I first set my foot in Myanmar, the hometown of the political Burmese icon, Aung San Soo Kyi.
First Glimpse of Burmese Food From a Local Insider
The taxi driver mentioned that Mohinga is famous in his city. It is a fish curry soup with noodles and topped with pork cracklings. It is similar to the taste of Philippines’ Palabok, only without the soup yet saucy (although I didn’t get to try it until I was in Mandalay). Although I have been to 3 other popular places in Myanmar like Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay I noticed how the restaurants would normally serve a lot of different dishes served in a little bowl or plates. Ranging from stew, curries, fried, sauteed of pork, chicken, beef and vegetables. Yes, you can taste all of them and eat as much as you can for a minimum price depending on the area where you’re getting it. If I’m not mistaken, mine was 8000 Kyat in Mandalay which I thought was expensive since it’s the amount of the taxi charge in Yangon which was quite a bit of distance from the airport to guesthouse.
(‘Temotitok’, Burmese Mashed Potato with herbs, spices, and Papaya shreds)
What Did I Think About Burmese Food?
Burmese Food Experience, Buffet All The Way! – My Burmese Food Experience was hardcore, I really pushed myself trying the REAL local foods that are only known to locals. I got the manager of the hostel in Mandalay helped me get some food from where they usually get their food. Watching them preparing their food looks scary, and even the manager was reluctant to bring me to the place but she still did from my persistent convincing powers. From that hidden maze like alley ways we went through (for sure, no tourists will ever find them), it was filled with few street stalls from fried coconut -rice cakes, local crepes, and a food stall that offers Burmese noodles (similar to Philippines’ Pancit Bihon)that they called Shansancho, Burmese mashed potato (rich yellow boiled potatoes manually mashed by bare hands and added with spring onions, fried garlic, fried onions, and some seasoning) that’s called Temotitok, Bean version is called Peh, and other local food that didn’t appeal to me. After she ordered my food, she left me there and I sat next to an Indian looking woman who surprisingly paid everything I ate before she left. She was so nice that I asked her if I can take a photo of her. My food didn’t worth much 400 Kyat for both Temotitok and Shansancho but it was 100 Kyat more expensive than her meal! She is dressed elegantly for a local old woman which tells me she has a bit more money than usual people around, with beautifully made up face, her nice gesture and smiley aura would just put her on my ‘Angels On The Road‘ list. Her English was exceptional for her age which tells me she’s educated.
(Bihon Noodles called locally as ‘Shansancho’)
(I’m eating like a royal, Burmese buffet experience, all the way!)
Eating Like Royals
Next morning in Mandalay, I had something from the same street. It is some similar kind of Mohinga but better and less fishy, called Gobi Ache ( pronounced as ‘Goh-bee Ah-Tseh’). But the traditional Burmese Buffet was experienced when I was touring Mandalay. The driver brought me to a restaurant, serving all the dishes they have at once. It is said, that this is how royal food were served, plenty of food varieties at once that later become every other household style of serving especially for the well off families. Now, restaurants have adopted this style attracting not only locals but also tourists to experience Burmese buffet slightly similar to the royals.
Luckily, I tried one local deserts too which is called Shwe Yin Aye, Burmese sweets of coconut milk, tiny tapioca pearls, and served with a piece of bread for 150 Kyat. Also, a snack they called Chapati, a food similar to roti but was cooked manually on a brick oven served with a curried potato paste.
(TRIVIA: Did you know that traditionally, foods are served in a low table as they gather to eat around it sitting on the floor?)
Burmese food as I have observed is influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Malay. Although theirs have a very bland but rich in spices (which does not make sense how one can prepare food with such spices but won’t taste as you would expect it to be). I think that is how Burmese food is unique in itself.