Eating in Burmese street food on a tiny budget is actually very easy. With so much amazing food under $1 don’t expect to be losing any weight, though!
Burmese cuisine is a fusion of Thai, Indian, Chinese and a mixture of smaller local tribal influences like Shan, Mon and others. Lots of tofu, eggs, noodles and deep frying are on the menu.
Breakfast in Myanmar is served from a time so early that I would call it “late dinner” not breakfast! Typically, this means 4am until about 8am or 9am (or until they sell out!).
1. Chinese Doughnuts & Indian (potato) Samosas.
Try an Indian & Chinese fusion meal for Breakfast. The price? We paid about 200 kyat (23 cents) for 1 doughnut and 100 kyat per samosa. Many tea & coffee shops have these left out on every table from 5am to 9am, eat as many as you like then they count up and you pay. Try dipping the doughnut in some milky tea (about 150 kyat) for a flavour bonus!.
2. Nannrote or Roti
Also sometimes called Indian Pancake this is a traditional flatbread that is available all over Myanmar. Typically eaten for breakfast but it can sometimes be found later in the day too. This photo features the plain and less oily incarnation of the roti, including a tasty chickpea dip, costing from 200 – 500 kyat (23 to 55 cents).
The fried and folded with egg inside version is one of our favourites, especially when it is nice and crispy on the outside! 400-700 kyat.
Lunch & Dinner
From about 10am until 8pm. There is no real distinction between lunch and dinner with most dishes being available throughout the day. If you are heading out for dinner its better to start early (about 6pm) as stalls will sometimes sell out and close early.
3. Street Noodles
You will find many variations of noodles both on the street or in restaurants. This style of noodle is not fried, they are boiled and then mixed with oil and other seasonings sometimes with a little chicken, or for this dish in Yangon, with deep fried crispy onions for crunch! Served cold or warm depending on how long ago the noodles were boiled. Only 300 – 400 kyat (35 – 45 cents).
4. Meeshay (Cold Noodles)
Mainly available in central and eastern Myanmar. Rice noodles mixed with sauce, which varies but often includes tomato or peanut. A Shan dish, served cold for about 300kyat.
5. Shan Noodles
A noodle soup, normally with chicken or tofu. You can’t escape the Shan noodle in Shan State (Eastern Myanmar), but fortunately it’s usually very tasty and generally priced between 400 and 700 kyat. Every vendor serves it slightly differently, and accompaniments
6. SALADS: Ginger Salad, Tomato Salad & Tea Leaf Salad
Salads in Myanmar are by no means the healthy option! They are normally loaded up with a pool of oil and a large portion of nuts or fried soya beans. All the salads are vegetarian friendly.
Ginger Salad: Even if it’s not on the menu, just ask they will usually whip it up for you!
Tea Leaf Salad: The closer you get to the tea plantations, the better the tea tastes! Often eaten with garlic on the side. This dish is also served in miniature as an accompaniment to other main courses.
7. Tofu Salad
Fried tofu on cabbage with a gooey sauce – yum! We also regularly saw tofu served by itself, just a big old bowl of steamed tofu with flavourings!
8. Na tarmine
“Fish, rice, slop”: this is how the lady at Inle lake described it to us! (It doesn’t actually taste like fish at all.)
Also called “Shan Traditional Snack” this is mainly available in Burma’s Shan state. Price: $1
9. Chinese BBQ
We saw BBQ in every town. There are two types of BBQ, those that use coals, and those that deep fry. Check before you order, they are all open kitchen. If you can’t see a charcoal grill then get ready for a deep-fried, calorific, heart clogging extravaganza.
Grab a plastic basket, put any sticks you want in it and then hand it to the chef! (Vegetable options are about 100 kyat, tofu 200 kyat, meat 300 – 700 kyat, and even a whole fish for 1000 kyat). Make sure you visit the “street BBQ”, the ones in proper restaurants will be at least double the price.
BBQ Okra (Lady’s Finger): 100 kyat per stick.
Mini BBQ potatoes: We fell in love with these! Sweet, tasty morsels of potato goodness at only 100 kyat a stick (5 potatoes)!
10. BONUS for the Brave
Pig Organs Hotpot: This seems to be all over the place in Burma, various organs and meat surround a central pot of meat broth just ready for a daring traveller to come and tuck in. 500 – 700 kyat for a small plate of meat with dip and a bowl of broth, grab some noodles too for 300 kyat and you have yourself a mini feast! Read more about this dish and watch the video.
Meagen Collins is chief editor of the Five Dollar Traveller website & author of Budget Burma: a comprehensive budget travel guide for Myanmar. While digesting her frequent food babies, Megsy blogs about tasty bites, booze, travel and whatever random topics pop into her head along the way! Follow her and her partner Tommo on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube. Click the image below to see her book on Amazon.