A taste of Myanmar

By Guy Wilkinson

For all those budding backpackers and foodies wanting a traditional oriental taste in Southeast Asia this summer, consider putting Myanmar on your travel list. Having been isolated for over 50 years, it is no wonder we are yet to see Myanmar restaurants popping up around the United Kingdom. Myanmar’s confusing and turbulent history has led to a fantastic conglomeration of different ethnicities and cultures. Naturally, their cuisines have followed. Whether it’s duck noodles from China, biryani from Bangladesh, thali from India, coconut and spices from Thailand, Myanmar has it all. That’s not to even mention the variety of dishes from within the ethnic communities of Myanmar.

Shan noodle soup

As throughout much of Asia, rice remains a staple in Myanmar, and its magnificent green fields seen sweeping across the valleys are a sight not be missed. A favourite ethnic meal in Myanmar features Shan noodles, containing chicken or pork with bean sprouts, crisp fried onion, crushed garlic, peanuts, coriander, pickled white radish and mustard greens. The chili is optional, although quite often if you’re not careful you’ll end up with something equivalent to a vindaloo curry.

Myanmar has its own taste of what might be considered a French breakfast, with pastries typically being much sweeter and almost always deep fried. For those who love samosas, they are always an option for breakfast too. The coffee is sure to give you a kick in the morning, often taken with heaps of sugar.For those vegetarians amongst our readers, Myanmar has the answer: salads galore. Much of the salads typically feature pickled vegetables, such as tea leaves or cucumbers. Tofu is also often featured, with the northern states typically souring the tofu before being served. The national dish is a herby and hearty broth with chicken, lightly spiced and with the pith of a banana tree to finish.

If you enjoy a social at Shaheens, or perhaps often crave noodles from Golden Pearl on North road, head to Myanmar. If Nadon Thai is your restaurant of choice, head to Myanmar. It really can’t be missed.

Photographs: (from top to bottom) Helen Tso Leung, Yidian Cheow, Tatsuya Fukata via Flickr Creative Commons

Featured photograph: Maman Voyage via Flickr Creative Commons.

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