You’ve no doubt seen these dishes being prepared on the side streets and local kitchens that pepper the streets of Yangon. Some of you may have ventured in and tried out a few of the more offbeat snacks for yourself, snacks that include pig’s brains and fried worms. Our choice of unusual foods may not be to everyone’s taste but they’re packed full of protein and, we reckon, are far better for your health than battered chicken wings. Long live the unusual foods of Yangon.
More specifically, pig brains. Murky white chunks of brain may be seen hiding around in dishes like Kyay Oh and even some curries. They’re mushy and actually quite delicious, at least for some people (especially locals). Since most Kyay Oh shops add this to their dishes, it’s suggested that foreigners who would rather not have a small lump of brain in their noodles to inform the waiters while ordering..
Deep Fried Crickets
With a crunchy exterior and a creamy inside, deep fried crickets are often sold by street vendors. Many locals take pleasure in chomping on the interesting, almost sweet taste of these insects. These are easily available here. Don’t be hesitant about all the legs poking out; they add an extra crunch! Where to find: some stalls in Chinatown.
Chopped up, chewy pig intestines on wooden sticks are sold almost everywhere here on the streets. They can be found in “Pork Stick” (Wat Thar Dote Htoe) shops, along with many other pig innards stuck on sticks, like pieces of heart, ears, tongue, and more. Faint-stomached foreigners who’d like to try a cleaner version of this local food is suggested to go to “Pork n Stick”, available in City Marts like Tamwe Ocean, or at Vestige Cafe in Myanmar Plaza.
Duck Blood Foie Gras (Bae Thwae)
Though definitely not as luxurious as Foie Gras, these blocks of boiled duck blood look like Foie Gras and are pretty hard to find. They’re usually chopped up then mixed into local salads for an interesting addition of texture and flavour. For those daring individuals who want a taste, street vendors and restaurants in Chinatown (Latha Township) are the places to go.
Does your hectic schedule keep you from sitting down for a full meal? Do you get hungry during odd hours of the day? Do not despair because snack options are plentiful in Myanmar. We’ve rounded up a list of traditional and local Myanmar snacks that’ll fill the gap between meals.
Similar to sponge cakes, this is a dessert made from rice powder, poppy seeds, and jaggery syrup. It’s a great snack to munch on, whether you’re wrapped up in work or having a conversation with friends.
Mote Phet Htote
Mote Phet Htote is made by stuffing sticky rice with coconut shavings and sugar, and then steaming it after wrapping it in banana leaves. A local favourite, this sweet snack will definitely be the highlight of your day.
Falooda is the locals’ favourite cool dessert to beat the summer heat. Similar to the authentic Italian falooda, the Myanmar version is a scrumptious drink made with a combination of rose syrup, jelly, tapioca pearls, milk, ice-cream and pudding. Yum!
A perfect snack to have with a cup of tea, Sanwin Makin is a Myanmar semolina cake. Unlike Bain Mote, Sanwin Makin is much denser and has a coconut taste to it. Be sure to indulge in this snack if you get the chance!
Shwe Yin Aye
A traditional coconut cream sherbet, Shwe Yin Aye literally means “cool the golden heart”. And like the name suggests, this cold dessert will surely cool your heart on a hot summer day. It’s made of agar-agar jelly, sticky rice, tapioca pearls, and served with a slice of plain bread.
Ta Nyet Khout Mote
If you have a sweet tooth, then this is the snack for you! Think of this as a sweet crepe filled with jaggery syrup, coconut flakes, and red beans. You can always spot a Kout Mote vendor by the round griddle she uses to make this yummy snack.
A Kin refers to all types of grilled skewered foods, from lady fingers to chicken wings. This is a great option for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike. A popular type of a kin is nga kin, a whole grilled fish stuffed with herbs and spices.
A Kyaw Sone
Think tempura, but with an extra touch of grease! A Kyaw Sone includes a variety of deep-fried foods, such as gourds, onions, peas and shrimps. It is best enjoyed with tamarind dip and a cup of tea.
Lan Thayae Khout Mote
This is a savory alternative to the Ta Nyet Khout Mote. Instead of the sweet jaggery filling, the Lan Thayae Khout Mote is filled with cabbage, tomatoes, chilli, masala and boiled yellow beans, making it the perfect snack for all the spice lovers out there.
Mote Lin Mayar
Literally “couple snack”, Mote Lin Mayar is made of a mixture of rice batter, quail eggs and yellow peas deep-fried in a dimpled pan. Two “halves” are then served joined together like a pair of lovers, hence the name.
Nga Phel A Sar Thoot (Stuffed Fish Balls)
These are delectable fish balls stuffed with cabbage and drizzled with lemon juice. Ask the vendor to add some green chilli for an extra kick! This snack is great for grabbing a bite on the go.
Si Htamin is steamed yellow sticky rice, traditionally eaten as a breakfast food. It is best served warm, topped with fresh onions and boiled yellow beans.
Text by Myanmore
Photography by Shady Ramadan