Yangon is a foodies’ heaven – from street food, to drinking tea on tiny plastic chairs in the street, to colonial cocktails and grilled intestines; Yangon has it all. Smells, sights and sounds evoke all senses and get taste buds tingling.
Here’s what we experienced:
19th Street Grilled Street food – Downtown £
Luckily for us this was one street away from out hostel! Upper 19th Street, gets busy between around 5pm and 11pm, when stalls full of skewered food appear. Grab yourself a seat on a colourful plastic chair at the side of the street and order a Myanmar (local beer), then get yourself a little plastic basket and pop in the skewers you fancy – they’ll then be brought to your table 10-15 minutes later, once they’ve been grilled to perfection. You’re given plates and chopsticks, along with a salty soy-sauce based dipping sauce with heat.
We had; grilled fish ball (similar to Thai fish cakes), tofu, broccoli, morning glory, mushroom, carrot and pepper, lotus root, asparagus and okra. Many meaty skewers were on offer from several types of chicken, to smaller whole birds, pork and fish, and small eggs and larger eggs, and fermented eggs! Dodgy looking intestines and other offal were also available! Our substantial haul, plus 2 beers came to around £5. – A banging bargain- you must go!! We went twice during our stay here.
999 Shan Noodle Shop £
After reading about this place in the Lonely Planet, we headed here; along with- it seems, every tourist in Yangon. The food was delicious and super cheap. We tried the Shan Noodle Sweet Salad (which came dry with a broth on the side – perfect for us as Mark likes broths and I’m not keen), and the Myanmar Tea Leaf Salad, which was divine! – pickled tea leaves, with fried broad beans, peanuts and chilli and spring onion – a pickled and tangy sour flavour made delicious with the crunch element of the nuts on top and a real depth of flavour. We had this to share and 2 coke zeros and our meal came to around £2.80!
The Strand Hotel £££
We didn’t eat here, but upon walking past this magnificent colonial style hotel, formerly run by the Sarkie brothers who also managed Raffles in Singapore, we thought it would be rude not to pop in to have a nosy and a refreshing beverage!
We entered the atrium and turned right into the bar, named Sarkies Bar. Mark had two beers and I tried a Bagan Breeze cocktail – apparently invented in 1976 – it contained vodka, white rum, lime juice, mint and sugar. It tasted good, but we just felt so guilty paying the $7 price tag when we knew what we could get for that elsewhere! Still, it is nice to have luxury now and again… also; the toilets were magnificent, and you just need a luxury toilet to sit on sometimes!
Rangoon Tea House ££
Another one not for the budget backpacker; but we like to be varied! This art deco style tea house near the city hall and high court, conveniently has a happy hour Monday – Friday from 3pm-7pm, where most drinks are half price.
I chose tea from the very complex tea menu! And Mark had… you guessed it!… beer!
We also ordered chocolate samosas with ice cream which were a-mazing! A definite recommendation!!
A beer, tea and the samosas came in at around £5.
We actually came back here the following day for lunch and tried Pennywort Salad – Pennywort leaves, which had a similar taste to morning glory, with tomato and peanuts and I think a fish sauce or other salty sauce?
Circle Train- food from vendors £
Becoming more of a popular thing for people to do in Yangon, is to board the Circle Train from Yangon Railway Station and go the loop which takes around 3 hours, hopping on and off when you please. The ticket costs around 10p (yes £0.10!) for the whole loop. Its fascinating to people watch and gaze out of the windows, but inside, vendors come up and down the carriages constantly selling wares or food. If you’re peckish you’re sure to get bargain food – from nuts, fresh watermelon, ice-poles of various flavours, huge avocados, tomatoes, and even vendors that bring stools and a tray balancing on their heads and make a meal for you right there on the train! Watermelon was roughly £0.10 for a large slice and water on the train also £0.10.
Aung Thukha £
We found this place on the website ‘myanmore’ and they recommended it as the best place to eat ‘real’ Burmese food in Yangon. It is conveniently located a 10-15-minute walk from Shwedagon Paya, so we timed a late lunch here to fit in with our late afternoon trip to the pagoda. This place did not disappoint! It appears like a large open fronted house with the smallest tables easily seating 6 people, and women washing dishes out the front of the restaurant! We were led to our table, then ushered up to the counter to ‘pick and point’ to the dishes we wanted. We again went vegetarian, and chose Morning Glory salad, an oily yet sweet and slightly hot potato curry, bamboo shoots and tofu and tomato. This was brought to our table along with a large bowl of rice per person, a mixed salad and dipping sauce and some pickled tea leaves and fried beans and peanuts to sprinkle on top. The meal was delicious. We had two Colas’ as well and when the bill came we couldn’t believe our eyes! It came to £2 all in!! This is , our top recommendation of the whole trip! Absolutely delicious local food and for an amazing price tag
Tea stalls £
Have you even been to Myanmar if you haven’t sat on a tiny plastic stool at the side of a busy, dirty street and drank rich tea with oodles of overly sweet evaporated and condensed milk in it?! We fancied joining in, so we paid 300MMK each (around £0.25) for a cup of a tea here and sat and watched the world go by. The sweet milk in the tea actually makes it quite filling and decadent and the setting is just so cute! It does make you feel like a huge obvious white person though sat on the tiny stools amongst the petite Burmese people!
Street Vendors £
Use your discretion for what looks clean or not! We gave most street food stalls a miss, but for the adventurous there is much to tempt all palates! We tried green papaya or mango, sliced with chilli sprinkled on top! It was blow your head off hot(!), but for around £0.25 it was nice to try
All in all an absolute epic food few days! Bring on the rest of Myanmar cuisine…. and many more tea leaf salads to boot!