10 Delicious Street Foods You Must Try in Mandalay
Owing to the geographic location of Mandalay, Burmese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine and Thai cuisine. Like many of you, I am totally clueless about Burmese cuisine. But after spending four good days exploring the city, I am fell in love with its street food, all thank you to our local guide, Jericho and Faye. As I wandered the city’s streets, scented broths wafted from the huge metal cooking pots. Here’s an insider’s guide to the best places to eat in Mandalay. 🙂
Shwe Pyi Moe Tea Shop
Address: 66th street (between 26th & 27th street)
Opening hours: 5am to 11pm
Shwe Pyi Moe Tea Shop, a very famous breakfast stop for all Burmese (beside Sedona Hotel). Burmese loves to toss together humble ingredients like the pea to create tempting salads, soups, curries and stir-fry. We had Mont Di which is thick rice noodle with chicken pea flour. The red chili paste and oil gives the white rice vermicelli the yellow colour. Mixed with fishball, beansprouts, onion and pickled mustard, it is a colourful combination.
Another staple food for Burmese is Shan Noodle, which I like it better than Mont Di. Shan noodles are served everywhere, at all hours of the day, and it is equally filling but more tangy (like mee siam). Influenced by the Thai, the noodles is a combination of sweet, sour and salty, and the toss of peanuts, fresh cilantro, onion and preserved vegetables makes it a light enough to keep me full and happy, yet craving for more.
Shwe Shan Buffet (Golden Shan)
Address: 84th street (between 22nd and 23rd street)
Opening hours: 10am to 11pm
The Shan is a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia. They are descendants of the oldest branch of the Tai-Shan, who have migrated from Yunnan in China. The Shan live primarily in Myanmar and its cuisine boosts a diversity of dishes with strong and interesting flavours. After walking around Mingun, we went to Shwe Shan for buffet because I was really hungry. It feels like I am eating chap chye peng, but instead of being served, you pick your own favourite dishes. I had more than 10 dishes on my plate andI am so hungry that I had more than 10 dishes. The lady spoke fantastic English and was very helpful in introducing the dishes! Many of them have Chinese influence and have flavourful taste profile. The buffet is only 4000 kyat (about SGD 4) and the standard of the food is very good!
16th Street Myee Shay
Address: 16th Street (between 81st and 82nd street)
Opening hours: 8.30am to 3pm
Traditionally, Burmese eat their meals from dishes on a low table, and this is evident in this no-name stall along Street 16 that sells excellent Myee Shay which draws a huge crowd. For only US$1, you get a bowl of rice noodles full of ingredients including pig’s tail and pig’s skin, plus a super flavourful bowl of pork ribs soup. Drizzle some lime and add some mustard leaf to give it some tanginess, I don’t know why, but it reminded me of our Singapore style beef noodles. Yes, I am sitting on a stool by the roadside eating my noodles. That should be the way to travel! Pardon my oily face and messy hair, even though it was 38 degree celsius that afternoon, the heat didn’t stop us from exploring all the good street food that locals go.
Address: 33rd Street (between 84th and 85th street)
Opening hours: 11am to 7pm
Tut P is a famous pork stick stall in Mandalay. The pork comes in different parts, they either blanched or deep-fried. Unlike other stalls, they really use premium thick skewers for their pork. They will serve you a few trays of pork stick, you can pick which one you prefer and eat it. I suggest you to have the blanched version so you can dip the skewers into a bowl of spicy morning glory soup. By the end of the meal, the servers will come and count the number of sticks. We had about 50 sticks and it only costs us about SGD4!
Shwe Taung Tan
Address: 66th Street (between 26th and 27th street)
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm
Shwe Taung Tan’s comforting bowl of Kyae Oh (pork noodles) is one of the best meal I had i Mandalay. While my friends in Singapore was complaining about the haze, I feel it here too as the smoke from the charcoal permeated the air. But of course, I am the lucky one because this is what makes his broth good. One by one, he scooped a spoonful of minced meat into the soup in brisk motions. I look at my unassuming bowl of noodle soup and wondered, how good can this be? After sipping the first mouthful of soup, I turned to my partner and exclaimed, “WAH THIS BAK CHOR MEE SOUP IS SOLID!” The broth is so power packed that I can easily finish the whole bowl of soup even though I am quite full. The minced meatball was so tender and tasty, which makes them look like little gemstones in the ocean.
Man Myo Daw Bow See
Address: 30th Street (between 77th and 78th street)
Opening hours: 4am to 10pm
“Bow See” means “bun” in Burmese language. Here, the shops sells fluffy and soft steamed buns that are made fresh daily. The size of the bao is moderate and packed with juicy pork. Something that interest me is their dumplings which looks like the big brother of xiao long bao. Not as soupy, but this dumpling has generous scoop of marinated pork.
Addeess: 71st street (between 34th and 35th street)
Opening Hours: 7am to 12pm
You must be wondering, “Where got tofu? Which is the tofu?” Well that bowl of gooey looking dish is none other than Shan Tofu! The sauce is made from liquid Burmese tofu, which is yellow and made from pea flour. It is thick and gooey, and served warm with noodles, some savoury homemade sauce and minced meat. Trying to think what does it resemble. The closest I can think of is lor mee! If Shan Tofu is not your thing, go for their usual noodle soup then!
Address: 28th Street (between 70th & 71st street)
Opening hours: 6am to 11am, 3pm to 6pm
Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup from Myanmar and is usually eaten as breakfast. In Myanmar, freshwater fish and shrimp are usually made into paste and added into cooking. Saya Gyi’s versin is thick with fish paste and less soup. It’s mixed with Its ingredients depend on their availability. However, the rich broth is mixed with chickpea flour and kept on the boil in a cauldron. It is served with rice vermicelli, dressed and garnished with fish sauce, a squeeze of lime, crisp fried onions, coriander, spring onions. Good news is, Saya Gyi is also available in Penisular Plaza Singapore!
26th Street Tea Salad
Address: 26th street (between 65 and 64)
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
If you wish to buy souvenirs from Myanmar, I suggest getting Lahpet (tea salad). It is an eclectic mix of flavors and textures that includes soft pickled tea leaves, roasted peanuts, sesame, garlic and more. The tea leaves are first harvested, then the best of the crop is set aside for fermenting while thee rest is used for tea. You can choose how you want to combine it according to your own preference and this is usually served as the last course. If you prefer, have your preserved tea leaves with a plate of rice!
Tet Nay Win
Address: 68th Street (between 34th and 35th street)
Opening Hours: 3pm to 9.30pm
Okay, YOU GOT TO EAT THIS. This is another of my favourite meal in Mandalay. Order the lemon fish please! Because they have pretty fresh fish here, the fish is steamed with tangy lime and garlic sauce. It totally opens up your palette and my boyfriend had three bowls of rice to go with this. Alternatively, go for their BBQ fish which is equally good – soft and tender meat with a light hint of smokiness. Also, order their BBQ chicken. They are sweet, smoky and just sticky enough to make us very very happy. It was served with their special chilli dip. Simply heavenly!
THANK YOU JERICHO & FAYE!
I really want to say a big THANK YOU to Jericho and Faye for showing us around Mandalay! The couple has been staying here for about two years and they were generous to bring us around to eat and explain to us more about Mandalay food. It’s new friendship found and I really appreciate their help to break the bubble and perceptions that we initially had.
If you are wondering how easy and accessible is Mandalay? Let me tell you, it is no problem for everyone (easier than travelling in Bangkok in my opinion) because the city, neatly planned with its lettered roads and numbered streets, so it is easy to locate the street food stalls I have introduced. Motorcycle taxis lurk near hotels, expect to pay 1000 Kyat (about SGD 1) for a short hop, K1500 across the centre, and K10,000 (about SGD 10) for full day hire. These drivers speak decent English.
I have bought some good food items from Mandalay to giveaway to 5 lucky readers! These items include thick and rich Mandalay milk tea, almond biscuits, peanut candy, traditional tea leave salad and a SilkAir travel kit (not in picture)! Giveaway contest will end 9 Oct 2015, good luck!