What to Expect When Eating Locally in Myanmar
You will never find a cuisine as diverse as Burmese, with loads of regional variations as well as a blend of Chinese, Indian and Thai cooking styles. Burmese cuisine includes dishes from various regions of Myanmar, and the food relies heavily on locally-grown produce. The diversity of Myanmar's cuisine has also been contributed to by the myriad local ethnic minorities, and there is always a delicate balance of texture as much as flavor in traditional dishes. Despite, most travelers don't know what to expect when it comes to Burmese cuisine. Let's see in daily life.
If local people are having breakfast outside, a tea shop or street stall is the place. Myanmar is an early-to-rise type of place so almost all of the tea shops open by 5:30 or 6:00 am. The most popular dishes — also available in every shop — are mohinga, coconut noodle, nan-gyi-thoke, Shan noodle, steamed meat buns, naan and fried palata served with boiled peas or meat curry, etc. Don't forget to order a cup of freshly made Myanmar (milk) tea.
Mohinga, Myanmar's national dish, is a rice noodle with fish broth — consists of chickpea powder, catfish, lemongrass and herbs blended into a thick stew that is then poured over the noodles. You can eat it with different toppings such as crispy fried beans, hardboiled egg, lemon, and coriander.
There are also street stalls selling solely mohinga and local people like it so much that they could eat it the whole day.
Rice and curry is the core of any Burmese meal. Burmese cuisines, are made to balance the four primary flavors: sour, salty, spicy and bitter. A typical Burmese lunch includes: a meat curry, vegetable dish (either fried or salad), soup, a few side dishes — typically fish paste, boiled vegetables and pickled vegetables — and served with a large plate of warmly cooked rice.
A variety of salads (called Ah-thoke in Burmese) are centered on one major ingredient, ranging from rice, wheat and rice noodles, glass noodles and vermicelli, to potato, ginger, tomato, peas, kaffir lime, long bean, pickled tea leaves, and even fish paste.
The afternoon in Myanmar almost always features ‘tea time’, usually around 3:00 pm for a snack and a chance to chat. Street vendors gather outside office buildings and busy intersections to sell savory Myanmar-style pancakes, freshly fried samosa, tropical fruits and more. These snacks are washed down with a cup of tea or coffee — the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Generally, dinner is not much different with lunch which is rice and curry combo. However, if you want to some light meal yet want to full your stomach well, you can try some stir-fry dishes (fried rice, friend noodle, etc.) that are a blend of Myanmar and Chinese cuisines. Curry shops are open but they tend not to be as fresh in the evening so a popular option is a local beer station. These open-air shops serve cold beer, a selection of barbecue items along with those stir-fry dishes.