Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a stunning country in Southeast Asia that is certainly worth a visit. To say Myanmar is culturally diverse would be an understatement. The country is home to over 100 different ethnic groups and with borders into Thailand, China, India, Laos, and Bangladesh, it’s a bit of a melting pot of Asia.
When it comes to Myanmar’s Traditional Food And Snacks, you can help but notice influences from all its boarding countries, and the tastes of India, Thailand, and China are very apparent, making the traditional food of Myanmar a bit of a taste safari sensation.
Join me as we take a look at all the most popular food and snacks that you should try when visiting Myanmar or have a go at cooking at home.
Mohinga is one of the most popular traditional foods in Myanmar and it might just be one of the tastiest breakfasts you have ever had. It’s full of deliciously fresh flavors, it’s filling and it’s very good for you too.
Mohinga is made with a fish broth base full of lemongrass flavors and is filled with delicious rice noodles and fried banana stems. Imagine a kind of ramen for breakfast except instead of having a meaty topping you have options like a soft boiled egg, coriander, lime juice, chilies, crispy bean fritters, and more.
Mohinga is so popular in fact that it’s pretty much the unofficial dish of Myanmar and everyone eats it for breakfast or as a tasty snack during the day.
Before you have some Mohinga for breakfast, you might like to have a cup of tea or coffee to start the day and there is nothing better or more traditional in Myanmar to accompany it than some E Kya Kway.
E Kya Kway is street food in Myanmar that can be found in every tea shop, cafe, and on most street corners. It’s kind of the equivalent of a croissant in France. E Kya Kway is made up of dough which is then deep-fried in hot oil and has a savory taste to them. They are perfect for dipping in your tea and coffee and a lovely way to start the day.
You might find that E Kya Kway will come with your order of Mohinga on the side or if you’re in the Shan region, it might even come with some Shan Tofu Nway.
Tofu Nway is a specialty food that comes from northeastern Myanmar and was created by the Shan tribe. It is pretty much a delicious kind of porridge that is super filling and it can be eaten at any time of the day.
The porridge is made from a base of chickpeas and it can have pretty much anything added to it depending on the time of the day. You can have it as porridge with some E Kya Kway for breakfast, with rice noodles and vegetables, or add some marinated chicken or pork. It almost always comes dressed with come chili oil over the top so be warned it can be quite hot.
The dish is very filling and very delicious. You could easily eat it with the different toppings for every meal of the day while in Myanmar.
Another very traditional food in Myanmar that is eaten almost daily by the locals and during all religious or social occasions is Laphet Thoke – a pickled tea leaf salad. Whenever people get together for dinner or lunch or meet out at a tea shop, they always share a Laphet Thoke.
Laphet Thoke is a cold dish usually served with green tea, hence its popularity at a tea shop. It can be eaten at any time of the day, as a snack, starter, side salad, or a main meal with a plate of rice or noodles.
Laphet Thoke is made by mixing up raw garlic, chili, nuts, peas, deep-fried beans, chopped tomatoes, and roughly chopped cabbage. The tea leaves are slightly bitter and sour, chopped small, and mixed into the salad to create Laphet Thoke.
It’s a very flavorful dish and is extremely good for you. Between the raw garlic, chilies, nuts, tomatoes, and cabbage, you’re getting a lot of nutrients, and when you add the anti-oxidants from the tea leaves and the green tea you’ll drink alongside it, you could probably cure a cold by eating this. Be warned though, raw garlic and chilies aren’t for everyone’s palette.
Samosa Thoke is another traditional food in Myanmar and it’s a great option when you’re looking for something fresh and delicious for lunch out around town.
You probably know what a samosa is, a delicious triangular snack made of pastry filled with veg, spices, and sometimes meat. Samosa Thoke is a kind of samosa salad.
The samosas are made in the same Indian style with onions, potatoes, other veg, and massala. The samosas along with split pea fritters are chopped up and then mixed into a salad filled with boiled potatoes, shallots, chopped tomatoes, and white cabbage.
But, Samosa Thoke doesn’t stop there. Once all the ingredients are mixed, they are then covered with a chickpea flour soup and garnished with chili powder, mint leaves, and tamarind sauce.
As you can see, this is quite a complicated dish to make but the street vendors are pros at it. The flavors and textures are quite delicious and you can control the heat by adding your own chili flakes.
Shan noodle is very close to ramen and it’s an incredibly popular food in Myanmar that you’re going to find everywhere. Every teashop, every market, and almost every street vendor is likely to have some Shan Noodle waiting for you.
As you can probably guess from the name, Shan Noodle comes from the northeastern Shan state of Myanmar and can be either served as a broth or as a salad.
It’s made using think and delicious rice noodles that are either served with a pork broth or a chicken broth, just like ramen. If you want a light a wholesome meal then I highly recommend going for the broth option.
When Shan Noodle is made as a salad, you’re likely to have the same noodles with roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, chopped leeks, pickled green mustard leaves, all mixed with chicken gravy around the noodles. It’s rich, delicious, and a great choice for a hearty lunch or dinner. You can also ask for it to be served with marinated chicken or pork too.
Burmese Nan Pyar & Pe Pyoke is kind of two different traditional Myanmar foods in one but they are often served together and are a great snack you can find from street vendors when you’re out exploring.
Burmese Nan Pyar is pretty much just Myanmar’s version of Indian nan bread. It is eaten with tea and coffee for breakfast, cover with butter and sugar for breakfast, and sometimes honey.
Pe Pyoke is boiled and marinated brown peas when you ask a street vendor for some Nan Pyar and Pe Pyoke then will give you a bag of brown beans and a piece of garlic bread. You then drop the beans into the nan and eat your tasty snack on the go.
One of the best snacks you can try in Myanmar is Mote Lin Ma Yar, or husband and wife snacks and you’ll find out why they have this name once we go through the cooking process.
Mote Lin Ma Yar is made from a rice flour batter that is dolloped into a hot pan and cooked in oil. On top of half of the dollops, the cooks add delicious toppings like marinated roasted chickpeas, scallions, and even things like quail eggs.
One half of them are dressed with yummy toppings the undressed halves are then put on top to create a kind of little cake filled with treats. This is why they are called Mote Lin Ma Yar or husband and wife snacks as two halves come together to form one, just like in a marriage.
You can find Mote Lin Ma Yar from street vendors all over most of the major towns in Myanmar and even in some of the small villages too. They are crispy and delicious, full of great textures and flavors.
Bain Mote is a very traditional street snack in Myanmar and is usually eaten for breakfast along with tea or coffee but it’s a great thing to eat when you need to stave off some hunger and are on a budget around town.
Bain Mote is known as a street pancake in Myanmar but it looks a bit like a flatbread that’s been merged with an American-style thick pancake.
Bain Mote is made using a rice flour batter that is mixed with peanuts and coconut shavings or chips. The batter is fried to create a thick pancake and is then splashed with butter and poppy seeds to finish. From a texture perspective, Bain Mote is delicious.
The outside of the pancake is crispy and the inside is light and fluffy, and with hints of coconuts, nuts, seeds, and butter is absolutely yummy any time you need a snack.
We have only really scratched the surface in this article with regards to the range of food you can find in Myanmar, there are hundreds more noodle and curry-based dishes we didn’t have room to touch on, but rest assured that your pallette and stomach will never go wanting when trying the tasty delights you’ll find around the country.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.