They say that street food expresses the true heart and soul of a country. In Myanmar, this is no exception. The destination of choice for this is Yangon. It is also known as Rangoon, which means “The End of Strife” It’s the country’s former capital and largest city. Originally named Dagon in the 17th century, it was once a small fishing village in Lower Myanmar.
Today, it’s gridlike streets have taken more nationalistic names and it is the center for media, commerce and of course, food. To get to the food, you should go Downtown where the market is. The markets are open air and you’ll see vendors selling fresh produce and hawking the best street food the country has to offer.
Here are the top three streetfoods you shouldn’t miss in Myanmar:
1. Mohinga is a definitive Mon breakfast.The Mon are an ethnic people in Myanmar. Mohinga is a popular fish soup with garlic, ginger and lemon grass. Chunks of fish meat and rice noodles are added. Sometimes, it is clear and other times, it is red with curry and tomatoes. One thing is constant though, the soup is poured over vegetable fritters ad boiled eggs. Based on the ingredients alone, you can guess that it’s a very fragrant broth. The vegetable fritters can vary but, on the streets, its usually potatoes. And it makes for a healthy and filling meal. Thankfully, it is also served at other times of the day.
2. Yangon streets are also filled with vendors selling fritters or Ah kyaw. Deep frying is a popular cooking method there and they do it with almost anything – from vegetables to seafoods. Hawkers can sell them in plastic of paper bags that you can carry around and munch on while walking through the city.
The batter for the fritters is usually made with a mix of rice flour, chickpea flour, salt and water. Peanut oil is used for frying. There are savory vegetable fritters like squash, potatoes and broccoli. Pakora is a fritter made with a mix of cauliflower, spinach, onions, tomatoes and chillies. There are shrimp fritters too. There’s a also a deep fried tofu stuffed with cabbages and chillies. the sweet side, there’s yam and banana fritters with palm sugar, mon-lon-gyi, which is a rice dumpling, and mok-si-kyo or coconut fritters.
3. Another popular street food in Myanmar is coconut noodle soup or Ohn No Kauk Swe. It’s a vermicelli and egg noodle soup with coconut milk and chicken. The use of coconut milk in savory dishes is rare in Myanmar. The soup is flavored with fish sauce, ginger, onions, turmeric, chillies, chickpea flour, lemon juice, stock and coconut cream. Hawkers serve them in bowls which you can slurp up on the curbs. The egg noodles provide a jelly texture.
You’ll also see stalls with boiled corn or Byon Bu. 19th Street between Mahabandoola and Anawrahta is also popular for its barbecue skewers. Choose your raw meats and veggies and have the people there grill for you.