Simply saying that a Myanmar restaurant is serving ‘Burmese’ food can be a sweeping generalization – while most of the population is ethnic Bamar, there are seven other large minorities and over one hundred ethnic groups in Myanmar. Cuisine in the country is just as diverse; different spices, staples and sauces are unique to different regions. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to travel outside of the city limits in order to taste these distinct ethnic foods, as many restaurants in Yangon serve them.
Minn Lann Seafood [Rakhine]
No. 45 Corner of Baho and Khittar St | 70 Wai Za Yan Tar Rd | 16 Parami Rd and more
Fish, lobster and crabs from Rakhine State (known for excellent seafood) are flown in everyday to these lively local restaurants to be steamed, fried or curried, and served with green chili sauce. You pick your main dish straight from the tank, so you know it’s fresh. Mote Tee, thin rice vermicelli, is another Rakhine favourite. Even with several outlets around the city, this chain’s restaurants are always packed and they don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait. Prices for dishes vary from 500 – 15,000 Ks, depending on whether you’re getting a small salad or a full lobster.
SHA YI [Kachin]
No. 76 Bogyoke Road, Pazundaing Township
This low-key restaurant has a nice and quiet setting, which is a welcome departure from the bustle of Bogyoke Road. Although rarely super busy, SHA YI serves some excellent and authentic Kachin recipes, complete with a focus on regional spicy, sour and salty flavour combinations. The alpine taro soup and pork tenderloin salad are solid recommendations, and provide genuine tastes of the North. Come here if you’re looking to have a comfortable lunch in the heart of the city and experience some new aromas. At under 8,000 Ks for one person, it doesn’t leave a big hole in your wallet.
Ha Tai Wa [Wa]
No. 10 Aung Thukha St | 9 Mile
Bamboo huts greet you at the entrance, making for a pastoral first impression. At the moment, this is the only Wa restaurant in Yangon, and they well aware of the niche. Waiters are clothed head to toe in traditional dress, and decor and photos are strictly Wa related. Food is presented on a round rattan tray lined with banana leaves and you can opt to sit on the floor at low tables for a more authentic experience. Try the weekly rice set, which come with ordinary and sticky rice, and varying sides such as prawns, vegetable salad, and curries. Dishes here are expensive, and the rice set costs about 20,000 Ks.
Jing Hpaw Myay [Kachin]
2B Kyun Taw Road, Sanchaung Township
With a plain, sanitary-looking interior only embellished by some textile table mats and curtains, this modest restaurant has some of the best Kachin food in town, and for quite cheap at below 10,000 Ks per person. Pork and bamboo shoot curry, grilled fish, and shat jam – a traditional mixed steamed rice – are must-tries. Don’t pass up on the pinkish Kachin rice wine either, which has a distinctly sweet, even fruity taste.
Shan Yoe Yar [Shan]
No. 169 War Tan Street, Lanmadaw Township
Situated in a large wooden house, this is an upscale Shan eatery offering a fine dining experience. Apart from the delicious but standard fare such as curry, Shan noodles and soups, some more obscure menu items you should definitely try include ‘pounded’ salads and pork sashimi (partially cooked). One person can eat here for around 15,000 Ks.
JANA MON [Mon]
No. 114 Nanda Wun Street, Bahan Township
Warmly lit with welcoming staff, it’s a tight squeeze inside, but that only adds to the homey vibe of this restaurant that specializes in inexpensive Mon food and traditional snacks. Mon State, which borders Thailand, is known for its curries and combined sour, salty and spicy flavours, often from tamarind and shrimp paste. Banana leaf salad and country-style duck curry are good, and not very oily, offering a break from Bamar fare. Desserts and fruit-based sweets are usually eaten before the main meal, a custom that other cultures would do well to adopt.
Chin Ngan Sat [Kachin]
No. 58 Shan Kone Street, Sanchaung Township & Kandawgyi Lake Park
Don’t let the name mislead you, this is a Kachin restaurant with two locations. The Kandawgyi branch is using a late lunch spot, hours are from 11:30am- 830pm. We recommend the Kachin Mohinga, Kachin Pounded Rice Salad and the Kachin Pounded Mutton Salad.
999 Shan Noodle Shop [Shan]
130B 34th Street, Kyauktada Township
A hole-in-the-wall offering great value; two people can easily eat their fill here for under two dollars. Noodles come in soup (myi shay) and salad (shan kauk swe), and both options are quite oily as Shan cuisine would have it. Besides thick rice noodle dishes, other Shan delicacies that are dished up include fried tofu and wontons. Upstairs has better air conditioning.
Taing Yin Thar [Shan, Chin, Rakhine and more]
5A Corner of May Kha and Parami Roadd | 2A Kanbae Road
The menu doesn’t have any particular focus, but instead encompasses ethnic dishes from all over Myanmar, making ‘the national restaurant’ a good introduction for foreigners to different regional cuisines. Start off with pomelo salad, try the butter fish curry and end your meal with an order of steamed bananas. At about 15,000 Ks a head, prices at this restaurant are rather steep. Pathein umbrellas hang from the high ceilings of this spacious restaurant, while touristy paintings of elephants and people in traditional costume are framed on the walls.
Kyauk Pyu Rakhine and Seafood [Rakhine] – Corner of Thit Sar and Innwa St, South Okkalapa Township
Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle [Shan] – No. 34 Corner of Boyar Nyunt and Nawaday St, Dagon Township
AGAPE Kachin Food Channel [Kachin] – No. 18 Shwe Pyi Aye Street, Sanchaung Township
Bum Ga [Kachin] – 34A Alanpya Pagoda Road (front of Park Royal), Dagon Township