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Best Burmese foods to try in Myanmar

Best Burmese foods to try in Myanmar

Burmese food startled us at first because it can be quite oily.

And just as we started to get used to spicy foods (particularly after Sri Lankan food), we were surprised to find that Burmese food is quite mild – by Asian standards of course!

The tea houses and street food scene of Yangon and variety of Burmese curries we tried in Mandalay kept these two greedy boys very happy.

Sebastien getting ready to binge on this Burmese meal
Sebastien getting ready to binge on this delicious Burmese meal (yes it’s all for him) in a restaurant in Mandalay

#1 Burmese food: curries in Mandalay

In Mandalay we stayed at the excellent Nan Bwe – The Vibe Hostel with the really sweet owner Nan Bwe, who taught us about Burmese food, in particular how to prepare a Burmese meal.

Stefan showing off a freshly made Burmese meal in Mandalay
Stefan showing off his freshly prepared Burmese meal with Nan Bwe, the charismatic owner of Yoe Yoe Lay guesthouse in Mandalay

Burmese meals usually evolve around rice and many different curries. It reminded us a lot of the Sri Lankan ‘rice and curry’ whereby a meal involved many many little dishes of excitement.

These many little dishes would include a variety of different vegetable and non vegetable curries. Our favourite recipe was Burmese chicken curry, which involved large amounts of garlic.

Cooking class in Mandalay
Learning to cook Burmese chicken curry at the Yoe Yoe Lay guesthouse in Mandalay

Burmese curries are served with rice, a soup broth (usually lentils or other vegetable), a plate of quickly boiled raw vegetables and a fish based sauce to dip the raw vegetables into. Unlimited green tea is usually also served alongside it.

We also learnt that there is no real uniform recipe for each curry. So each Burmese meal was a new culinary journey of flavours.

Sebastien's Burmese feast
Sebastien proudly displaying his freshly made Burmese feast

#2 Street food in Yangon

In Yangon we loved the variety of delicious street food on offer. Meals here are commonly taken on the streets creating quite a buzzy atmosphere:


Along with all the different fruits, noodles and curries available, we particularly liked the freshly squeezed sugar cane juices and samosa salads available on the streets of Yangon.

#3 Samosa salad

We love samosas. But the Burmese have taken this to a whole new level, chopped it up and served it in a delicious salad with more vegetables added and fresh mint tossed in.

Sebastien went face down in quite a few of these…


#4 Freshly squeezed sugar cane juice

We saw many stalls in Yangon with large sugar cane sticks and wondered what they were for. We discovered the sticks are pressed and a sweet, sticky juice is squeezed out, creating a very yummy drink.

Sugar cane juice stand in Yangon
Sugar cane juice stand on the streets of Yangon

No ice, water, extra sugar is needed. It’s plain and simple, and one of the tastiest natural drinks we’ve ever tried. Stefan’s sweet tooth loved these!

Stefan tucking into sugar cane juice drink
Stefan tucking into his favourite drink in Yangon – a freshly pressed sugar cane juice

#5 Semolina cakes in Yangon tea houses

Tea houses are prevalent in Myanmar, especially in Yangon where we noticed there was one on every other block. But the real highlight for us in a Burmese tea house were the delicious freshly made prizes placed on each table.

Freshly made semolina cakes in a Yangon tea house
Delicious freshly made semolina cakes in a Yangon tea house

Our favourites were the freshly made semolina, coconut cakes topped with poppy seeds called “shwe kyi”. This was one of the tastiest treats we tried in Myanmar and again, appealed nicely to Stefan’s sweet tooth…

Stefan enjoying a freshly made semolina cake
Stefan enjoying a freshly made semolina cake in a Yangon teahouse

#6 Myanmar beer

Finally, no post by us about food is complete without a mention of the country’s national beer.

In this case, it was particularly important as it was the deciding factor in determining why we call this country Myanmar and not Burma.

Myanmar not Burma: our beer selfie in Mandalay
The beer was the deciding factor why we call this country Myanmar not Burma

Watch our video Myanmar travel video as we made our way from Mandalay to Bagan, Inle Lake and Yangon:

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Burmese chicken curry recipe
Burmese chicken curry recipe
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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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