Despite being rather small, the tempura stall on middle block 40th Street catches the eyes of passersby because of a consistent stream of customers buzzing around it.
The stall’s owner U Maung Kyan is humble about his snacks’ popularity, instead focusing on the quality of the tempura, cutting fresh vegetables and mixing new batter everyday.
“I don’t hide anything from my customers,” said the 35-year-old vendor as he patiently sliced corn. “I make the food in front of them and they can see the state of our shop’s hygiene with their own eyes. I wouldn’t serve them something that I, myself, wouldn’t eat. It’s all a matter of trust.”U Maung Kyan has a rotating choice of over 10 types of tempura depending on the seasons. Two sizzling pots of oil set at the front of the stall deep fry the vegetables that have been dipped into the batter, which includes pounded sticky rice, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Owning the street side stall has come with its problems, as though U Maung Kyan says he has the consent of 40th Street residents, Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) asked him a few months ago to relocate to the night market on the Strand.
“The place was only 4 foot by 8 foot! The only thing that could fit into that tiny stall was my two frying pots. It was impossible to make business there so I had to move out. I am so grateful that the people in this street are so understanding. I won’t be able sell here if it wasn’t for them,” he said.
U Maung Kyan who moved from the Ayeyarwady Region to Yangon previously ran a betel nut stand and worked in a tea shop before setting up his tempura stall.
“The teashop that I used to work at closed down. I decided to open up my shop right in front of my old workplace because I’m familiar with that place. Now look how far we have come! My shop will turn six years old this year,” he said.Customers can buy as many tempura pieces as they like although the usual purchase is 10 pieces for 700 kyats—with that comes dipping sauce and lettuce. The deep fried part of the snack may not be embraced by health enthusiasts, but the crispy texture, cheap price and warm owner make these tempuras worth a try.
Address: 40th Street Lower Block, Kyauktada Township, Yangon
Opening hours: Monday- Saturday (12pm-6pm), Closes on public days and Sunday