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The Best Burmese Food


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Georgette Mchenry



Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country rich in culture and heritage. From stunning pagodas to beautiful landscapes, Myanmar offers a unique experience for travelers. But one aspect that truly stands out in Myanmar is its cuisine. The Burmese food scene is a delightful tapestry of flavors and textures, shaped by the country’s diverse ethnic backgrounds and geographical influences.


Burmese cuisine is often described as a fusion of Chinese, Indian, and Thai flavors, with a distinct identity of its own. The food is characterized by its use of aromatic spices, fresh ingredients, and bold flavors. From traditional dishes to street food delights, Burmese cuisine has something to offer for everyone.


One of the hallmarks of Burmese food is its emphasis on communal dining. Shared meals and family gatherings are an integral part of the Burmese way of life. The dining experience is meant to be enjoyed leisurely, with a variety of dishes served together to create a symphony of flavors.


Whether you are a fan of meat, seafood, or vegetarian delights, the Burmese food scene has plenty to offer. From hearty curries to lip-smacking street food, let’s take a closer look at the best Burmese dishes that should not be missed.


Traditional Burmese Dishes

Traditional Burmese dishes are the heart and soul of Myanmar’s culinary heritage. These dishes capture the essence of Burmese flavors and showcase the country’s rich cultural traditions.


One iconic Burmese dish is Mohinga, considered the national dish of Myanmar. It is a flavorful fish noodle soup that is often enjoyed as a hearty breakfast. Made with catfish, rice noodles, and a thick fish broth flavored with lemongrass, ginger, and other spices, it is a comforting and satisfying dish.


Another staple dish is Laphet Thoke, which translates to “tea leaf salad.” This unique salad is made with fermented tea leaves, mixed with cabbage, tomatoes, peanuts, fried garlic, and a tangy dressing. It offers a perfect balance of flavors and textures and is a must-try for food enthusiasts.


Burmese Curries are also a highlight of traditional Burmese cuisine. Rich and aromatic, these curries often feature a variety of meats such as chicken, beef, lamb, or pork. One popular curry is the Ohn No Khao Swè, a coconut curry soup served with egg noodles, topped with various condiments such as fried onions, lime, and chili flakes.


For those looking for a vegetarian option, the Myanmar version of Khow Suey is a fantastic choice. Made with noodles, coconut milk, and an assortment of vegetables, this dish is bursting with flavors and offers a satisfying and wholesome meal.


Lastly, no exploration of traditional Burmese dishes would be complete without mentioning Sanwin Makin. These delightful pancakes are made from semolina flour, coconut milk, palm sugar, and topped with grated coconut. They are a perfect sweet treat to end a meal or enjoy as a snack.


Traditional Burmese dishes exemplify the rich culinary heritage of Myanmar and are a must-try for anyone visiting or interested in the country. Each dish tells a story of the people and their connection to the land, making it a fascinating exploration of culture through food.


Street Food

Exploring the vibrant street food scene is an essential part of experiencing the culinary delights of Myanmar. Street food vendors can be found on almost every corner, serving up a delectable array of snacks and meals that cater to all taste preferences.


One popular street food item is Mohinga, which we mentioned earlier as a traditional dish. It is also widely available from street food stalls, making it an accessible and delicious option for those on the go. The combination of the fragrant fish broth, noodles, and crunchy toppings create a flavor explosion in every bite.


Another street food favorite is Samosas. These crispy, deep-fried pastries are filled with a savory mixture of vegetables, meat, or lentils. They are a perfect snack to satisfy those mid-day cravings or as a quick bite while exploring the bustling streets of Myanmar.


Burmese BBQ, known as “Satay,” is also a popular street food choice. Skewers of marinated meat or vegetables are grilled over charcoal, imparting a smoky and delicious flavor. This flavorful and aromatic street food can be found in night markets and street food stalls, enticing passersby with their sizzling displays.


For the adventurous foodies, street food vendors often offer exotic options like fried insect snacks, such as crickets or silkworms. These crunchy treats are a unique and adventurous way to experience the local food culture.


No street food experience in Myanmar is complete without trying Shan Noodles. Originally from the Shan State in Myanmar, these noodles are tossed with a savory sauce made from soybean paste, garlic, chili oil, and topped with a variety of ingredients like crispy garlic, peanuts, and cilantro. They are a flavorful and filling option.


When exploring the local street food scene, be sure to keep an eye out for popular snacks like Mont Hin Khar (Burmese Spring Rolls) and Nan Gyi Thoke (a noodle salad with a tangy sauce). These tasty treats offer a glimpse into the diverse and delicious street food offerings in Myanmar.


Immersing yourself in the vibrant street food culture of Myanmar is a fantastic way to taste the authentic flavors of the country. As you wander the streets, follow the tantalizing aromas and friendly vendors, and let your taste buds guide you to the best street food delights Myanmar has to offer.



Burmese salads are a refreshing and vibrant aspect of the country’s culinary landscape. The salads utilize a variety of fresh ingredients and are often dressed with a tangy and flavorful dressing made from lime juice, fish sauce, and chili.


One iconic Burmese salad is the Laphet Thoke, also known as the tea leaf salad. This unique dish combines fermented tea leaves, crunchy cabbage, tomatoes, roasted peanuts, and fried garlic, creating a harmonious blend of textures and flavors. It is a perfect balance of tangy, savory, and slightly bitter notes, and is a favorite among both locals and visitors.


Another popular salad is the Gin Thoke, or ginger salad. This invigorating salad features thin slices of fresh ginger mixed with roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, fried garlic, and a drizzle of oil. The combination of the crunchy ginger, nutty flavors, and aromatic sesame seeds creates a dynamic and satisfying dish.


For those seeking a more substantial salad, the Tomato Salad is a great choice. This salad showcases the simplicity of fresh ingredients, with ripe tomatoes, onions, chili, coriander leaves, and a squeeze of lime juice. It is a burst of flavors that pairs well with other Burmese dishes.


If you are a fan of spicy food, don’t miss out on the Lahpet Thoke, or pickled tea leaf salad. This salad features pickled tea leaves mixed with a variety of ingredients like chili, roasted peas, fried garlic, and shrimp. The blend of tangy, spicy, and savory flavors makes it a unique and addictive dish.


Other popular salad options include the Pennywort Salad, made with fresh pennywort leaves, roasted peanuts, crispy onions, and lime dressing, and the Tofu Salad, which combines fried tofu with cucumber, onions, chili, and a zesty dressing.


Burmese salads are not only a refreshing and healthy choice, but they also showcase the incredible flavors and creativity of Burmese cuisine. The mix of textures and complex flavors in these salads will leave your taste buds craving for more, making them a must-try during your culinary exploration of Myanmar.


Noodle Dishes

Noodles hold a special place in Burmese cuisine, and the variety of noodle dishes available in Myanmar is a testament to its culinary versatility and creativity. From soups to stir-fries, Burmese noodle dishes offer a delightful combination of flavors and textures.


Mohinga, the national dish of Myanmar, is a popular noodle soup that is enjoyed throughout the country. The soup features rice noodles in a rich and flavorful fish broth, seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, and other aromatic spices. Topped with an assortment of crunchy ingredients such as crispy fritters, sliced onions, and lime, Mohinga is a comforting and satisfying noodle dish.


Shan Noodles, originating from the Shan State in Myanmar, are another beloved noodle dish. They are typically served as a stir-fry with rice noodles, tossed in a sauce made from soybean paste, garlic, and chili oil. Shan Noodles are often garnished with crispy garlic, crushed peanuts, and fresh cilantro, creating a harmony of flavors and textures.


If you are in the mood for something spicy, try Kyay Oh. This noodle soup consists of wheat noodles in a savory and fiery broth, topped with slices of pork, fish balls, and a variety of condiments such as chili flakes, lime, and fried garlic. It is a hearty and spicy treat for the taste buds.


For those who prefer a dry noodle dish, Mote Ti is a fantastic choice. This dish features rice noodles mixed with a flavorful sauce made from garlic, tamarind, and bean paste. It is then topped with ingredients like fried tofu, crispy onions, and fresh cilantro. The combination of the sauce and toppings creates a burst of flavors in every bite.


Another popular dry noodle dish is Nan Gyi Thoke, a spicy and tangy noodle salad. It consists of thick wheat noodles tossed with a tangy dressing made from chili, garlic, and fish sauce. It is then garnished with ingredients like shredded chicken, bean sprouts, fried onions, and roasted peanuts. The result is a refreshing and colorful noodle salad that is both satisfying and flavorful.


Whether you prefer soup-based noodle dishes or dry stir-fries, Burmese cuisine offers a wide range of noodle options to tantalize your taste buds. From the iconic Mohinga to the spicy Kyay Oh and the flavorful Shan Noodles, exploring the diverse world of Burmese noodle dishes is a must for any food enthusiast.


Rice Dishes

Rice is a staple ingredient in Myanmar, and Burmese cuisine features a variety of flavorful and aromatic rice dishes that showcase the country’s culinary diversity. From fragrant biryanis to savory rice puddings, rice plays a central role in Burmese meals.


One popular rice dish is Nga Htamin, which translates to fish rice. This dish is made by cooking rice with chunks of fish, onions, garlic, and turmeric. The fish infuses the rice with a delicious flavor and creates a hearty and satisfying dish.


Kyet Thar Hin, or chicken rice, is another beloved rice dish in Myanmar. The chicken is cooked with fragrant spices and served over a bed of fluffy rice. It is often accompanied by a side of clear chicken soup and a fiery chili sauce for an extra kick.


A favorite among locals is Lethoke, a spicy and tangy rice salad that is bursting with flavors. Cooked rice is mixed with a medley of ingredients such as tamarind paste, fish sauce, lime juice, fried onions, and chili. It creates a refreshing and zesty dish that is perfect for a light and satisfying meal.


If you’re in the mood for something more indulgent, try Mandalay-style Shwe Htamin. This rich and creamy rice dish is made by cooking rice with coconut milk, onions, and spices. It is often served with tender pieces of chicken or pork and garnished with fried onions and hard-boiled eggs.


For dessert, Mont Lone Yay Paw is a popular choice. It is a sweet rice pudding made by cooking glutinous rice with coconut milk and jaggery (palm sugar). This creamy and aromatic dessert is often topped with roasted sesame seeds and served warm, making it a comforting and satisfying end to a meal.


Burmese rice dishes offer a delightful array of flavors and textures, combining the simplicity of rice with the richness of spices and ingredients. Whether it is the aromatic Nga Htamin, the tangy Lethoke, or the indulgent Shwe Htamin, exploring the diverse range of rice dishes in Myanmar is sure to be a memorable culinary experience.


Seafood Specialties

With its long coastline and abundant waterways, Myanmar offers a treasure trove of seafood delights. From pristine river fish to fresh catches from the Bay of Bengal, Burmese seafood specialties showcase the country’s coastal charm and rich maritime flavors.


One iconic seafood dish is Ngapi Yay, a traditional Burmese condiment made from fermented fish or shrimp. It is often used as a dip or added to various dishes to enhance their flavor. This pungent condiment adds a unique umami taste to seafood dishes and is a staple in Burmese cuisine.


Curry is also a popular way to enjoy seafood in Myanmar. Mohinga Curry, inspired by the beloved mohinga soup, is a delightful seafood curry made with fish, prawns, or squid, cooked in a fragrant and spicy coconut milk-based sauce. It is typically served with rice or noodles, creating a hearty and flavorful meal.


Grilled seafood is another specialty in Myanmar. Fresh fish, prawns, and squid are marinated with a blend of spices and grilled to perfection, resulting in smoky and succulent seafood dishes. Grilled seafood is often served with a tangy dipping sauce made from lime juice, garlic, and chilies.


If you’re a fan of spicy food, don’t miss out on Ngapi Kyaw – fried fish paste. Fish paste is shaped into small cakes, lightly fried until crispy, and served as a side dish or condiment. This crispy delicacy pairs well with rice or as a topping for salad, adding a savory and spicy kick to each bite.


Another must-try seafood dish is Rakhine-style Fish Curry. Originating from the Rakhine State in Myanmar, this curry features delicate white fish cooked in a rich and aromatic sauce made from turmeric, ginger, garlic, and chili. The flavors are complex and well-balanced, making it a favorite among seafood lovers.


Whether you prefer spicy curries, grilled delights, or flavorful condiments, the seafood specialties of Myanmar will take your taste buds on a coastal adventure. The fresh flavors, combined with the unique Burmese touch, make these dishes stand out and showcase the bountiful offerings of the sea.


Vegetarian Options

Vegetarian travelers will find a wide range of delicious and satisfying options in Myanmar’s culinary scene. While meat is prevalent in Burmese cuisine, there are plenty of vegetarian dishes that showcase the country’s love for fresh produce and vibrant flavors.


One popular vegetarian dish is the Shan Tofu Noodles. Made from yellow split peas, this tofu has a unique texture and flavor. It is often served in a soup or stir-fried with vegetables, creating a hearty and protein-rich meal.


Vegetable Curries are also widely available, with a variety of options to choose from. Potato curry, pumpkin curry, and chickpea curry are just a few of the delicious vegetarian curries you can savor. These curries are typically cooked in a rich and aromatic sauce, flavored with spices, herbs, and coconut milk.


Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, or Laphet Thoke, can also be enjoyed in a vegetarian version. The fermented tea leaves are mixed with a variety of vegetables, nuts, and fried garlic, creating a refreshing and tangy salad packed with flavor.


For a simple yet satisfying dish, try a plate of Burmese Fried Rice. Mixed with vegetables, soy sauce, and spices, this flavorful dish can be customized to suit your taste preferences. It is often garnished with crispy onions and sliced cucumbers for added freshness.


Another vegetarian delight is the Tofu Noodle Salad. The dish combines rice noodles, fried tofu, and an assortment of fresh vegetables, all tossed in a flavorful dressing made from lime juice, soy sauce, and garlic. The combination of textures and flavors make it a light and refreshing option.


For a sweet ending, don’t miss out on Mont Lone Yay Paw, a traditional rice pudding made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, and jaggery. It is a comforting and indulgent dessert that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.


Vegetarian travelers can explore the diverse and flavorful vegetarian options in Myanmar. From hearty curries to refreshing salads and delicious desserts, Burmese cuisine offers a delicious array of vegetarian dishes that highlight the country’s dedication to fresh ingredients and bold flavors.



No culinary journey in Myanmar is complete without indulging in the country’s delightful array of desserts. Burmese desserts are known for their rich flavors, unique textures, and the use of ingredients like coconut, palm sugar, and sticky rice.


One popular dessert is Mont Lone Yay Paw, a traditional rice pudding made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, and jaggery (palm sugar). The creamy and aromatic pudding is often garnished with roasted sesame seeds, creating a comforting and satisfying sweet treat.


If you’re in the mood for something crispy, try Kyauk Kyaw, a popular Burmese jelly dessert. It is made by boiling agar-agar, a type of seaweed, with sugar and essence, then chilled until set. The jelly is usually served with coconut milk and sweet syrup, making it a refreshing and light dessert option.


Burmese Coconut Pancakes, known as Mont Let Saung, are another delightful sweet treat. These small pancakes are made from coconut milk, rice flour, and sugar, and are cooked until golden and fluffy. They are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee, or as a snack throughout the day.


If you’re into sweet pastries, try Shwe Yebucha, a Burmese version of a donut. Made from sticky rice flour, black sesame seeds, and palm sugar, these bite-sized pastries are deep-fried until golden and crispy. They are a popular street food snack and are often enjoyed with a cup of tea.


Burmese Falooda is a unique and decadent dessert that combines rose syrup, sweet basil seeds, vermicelli noodles, and a scoop of ice cream. The combination of flavors and textures creates a delightful and refreshing dessert that will satisfy any sweet tooth.


An unusual yet delicious dessert is A-Nyeik Htat, a sweet salad made from a mix of ingredients like jaggery, coconut shavings, dried fruits, and roasted sesame seeds. The combination of sweet, nutty, and chewy textures makes it a unique and enjoyable dessert.


Whether you prefer creamy rice puddings, crispy pastries, or refreshing sweet treats, the dessert offerings in Myanmar are sure to satisfy your cravings. These delightful and often unique desserts add the perfect sweet note to your culinary journey through the flavors of Myanmar.



Myanmar’s culinary landscape is a kaleidoscope of flavors, colors, and textures, offering a diverse and captivating range of dishes. From traditional Burmese delights to street food delicacies, the cuisine of Myanmar is a true reflection of the country’s rich culture and heritage.


Exploring the traditional Burmese dishes is a must-do for any food enthusiast. Mohinga, Laphet Thoke, and Burmese Curries are just a few examples of the flavorful and aromatic dishes that capture the essence of Burmese cuisine. These dishes showcase the unique blend of spices, fresh ingredients, and bold flavors that define Burmese food.


The street food scene in Myanmar is an adventure in itself. From savoring Mohinga from a bustling food stall to indulging in crispy samosas and flavorful skewers of Burmese BBQ, the street food options are endless. The vibrant and lively atmosphere adds an extra touch of excitement to the culinary experience.


Salads, noodle dishes, and rice dishes in Myanmar offer a diverse range of flavors and textures. Whether you are a vegetarian or a seafood lover, there are plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. The use of fresh ingredients, aromatic spices, and creative combinations make these dishes a true delight.


To end your gastronomic journey through Myanmar, don’t miss out on the country’s decadent desserts. From creamy rice puddings to crispy pastries and refreshing sweet treats, Burmese desserts offer a delicious and satisfying conclusion to your culinary adventure.


Overall, Myanmar’s cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors waiting to be explored. Through its diverse traditional dishes, street food, salads, noodles, rice delicacies, seafood specialties, vegetarian options, and delectable desserts, Myanmar offers a truly unique and unforgettable gastronomic experience.


So, pack your bags, bring your appetite, and embark on a culinary journey through the flavors of Myanmar. Get ready to savor the authentic tastes, immerse yourself in the vibrant food culture, and create unforgettable memories through the incredible cuisine Myanmar has to offer.