Myanmar Traditional Food: 10 Authentic Burmese Dishes You Need To Try
Looking for the best Myanmar traditional food? Wondering what are the best dishes of Burmese cuisine? Here's the perfect beginner's guide to Burmese food that will give you a deep dive into all that you need to eat in Myanmar. Plus, try some authentic Burmese recipes too. #Food #Myanmar

Myanmar Traditional Food: 10 Authentic Burmese Dishes You Need To Try


Last Updated on May 2, 2021 by Soumya

Are you looking for the best Myanmar traditional food? Curious to find out what Burmese dishes you need to try on your next Myanmar trip? Keen to cook some authentic

Here’s our extensive guide on Myanmar food – what and where to try them + quick and easy recipes.

Food is an integral part of Burmese way of life. The people of Myanmar love to indulge in food and spend hours preparing and eating a meal.

Lunch and dinner in Myanmar are no small affairs. You will always be treated to a wide variety of side dishes along with your Burmese main course and trust me, Burmese sides are sometimes enough to fill you up. 

Myanmar traditional food is wholesome, nutritious, and filled with the right amount of carbs, proteins, and vitamins. In this article, I bring you a list of must-try dishes from the Burmese cuisine.

The best of traditional Myanmar food

Best dishes from the Burmese Cuisine - An introduction to Myanmar traditional food with a selection of authentic Burmese dishes that you need to try on your next trip to Myanmar. #Myanmar #Food

When I was reading about food in Myanmar, I found that Burmese cuisine had often been underrated when compared to those of its more famous Southeast Asian neighbors. It was not a surprise at all. Myanmar has only recently opened up to international tourists, so there is a general lack of awareness. Also, people find Burmese food lacking in fiery spices. I found this to be true although it was more of a blessing to me than a drawback. Burmese food is easy on the stomach and fills you up without causing discomfort.

I also found a lot of vegetarian and/or vegan items at restaurants and on streets in Myanmar. You will find a number of them in the list below.

Furthermore, food in Myanmar is an eclectic mix of cuisines from different communities that reside here namely Burmese, Mon, Indian and Chinese; not to mention 100 other smaller, ethnic groups. Locals are fiercely passionate about dishes from their respective regions which makes the food scene in Myanmar exceedingly vibrant.

Samosa Thoke

Thoke literally translates to salad in English. And Burmese salads are worth trying out. In fact, my favorite food in Myanmar was a salad called Samosa Thoke. 

The samosa thoke is a traditional Burmese street food that resembles the Indian samosa chaat but not entirely.

Burmese samosas are called samusas and are smaller than their Indian cousins. They are filled in with potatoes and chickpea powder. The deep-fried pastries are then dunked in a plain Burmese curry and garnished with mint leaves, sliced onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and brown chickpeas.

The base dish is not spicy at all. You can choose to add more chili if you want.

Easy Samosa Thoke recipe

Where to find Samosa Thoke in Myanmar?

Samosa Thoke is a favorite among locals and a popular street food in Myanmar especially in Yangon.

We would highly recommend having it on the streets of Yangon especially from the vendors near the Thakin Mya Park on Aung Yadana Street.

Deep-fried Burmese Tofu

Deep-fried Burmese Tofu is yet another popular traditional food item in Burma. It is made out of chickpea flour which makes it all the more unique.

Unfortunately, I never had the chance to try it when I was traveling in Burma but made sure I clicked some great pictures. A friend helped me identify this amazing dish in the picture above. This is deep-fried tofu stuffed with fried garlic and garnished with cabbage, cilantro, lemon juice, and fish sauce.

Burmese deep-fried tofu recipe

Where to find deep-fried tofu in Myanmar?

Again in Yangon. From the vendors at various stations on the Yangon Circular Train route.

Laphet Thoke

Laphet Thoke is another popular Burmese salad. Among various Myanmar traditional food items, laphet thoke was probably one that I had not heard of before traveling to Myanmar.

Laphet means pickled tea leaves in Burmese and laphet thoke is actually a salad made out of pickled/fermented tea leaves. The fermented tea leaves may not look great to discerning eyes but they taste wonderful once they are converted into an amazing salad.

Vendors add to the tea leaves a number of things: peanuts, garlic, chili, tomatoes, and some shrimps/fish if you wish to concoct a delicious mix right in front of your eyes.

Easy Laphet Thoke recipe

I always got so engrossed in eating it that I never remembered to click a picture. But Laphet Thoke is definitely one of the best Myanmar delicacies that I highly recommend. Read more on why laphet thoke is the country’s favorite snack.

Where to find Laphet Thoke in Myanmar?

It is available widely across the country and we had it in Yangon, Ngapali, Mrauk-U, and Bagan. You can find it in restaurants as well as streetside stalls.

Mohinga

If you are looking for the most traditional Myanmar food, then Mohinga should be it. This soupy dish is often referred to as the Burmese National Dish.

Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup that can have many other ingredients like garlic, onion, ginger, fish paste, eggs, fritters, or cilantro. It is usually eaten for breakfast but is now creeping in as a filling snack that can be relished at any time of the day.

How to prepare Mohinga at home?

Where to find Mohinga in Myanmar?

You can smell and find Mohinga anywhere and everywhere in Myanmar. Downtown Yangon is especially famous with a number of stalls specializing in Mohinga variants.

Fried Shrimps

Fried shrimps are another tasty street snack from Myanmar. We found them quite abundantly on the streets and in front of temples in Bagan.

As you can see in the picture below, there were these huge plates on which fried shrimps, fried shrimps-in-batter, and fried fish were stacked high, one beside the other.

We had our first bite in front of Bupaya Pagoda in Bagan. There were a number of vendors there, mostly women, selling this delicious snack. And we could not just restrict ourselves to one. It can be a little oily as most street food generally is.

Where to find fried shrimps in Myanmar?

Plentily available on the streets of Bagan. We did not find them anywhere else. So dig into them when you are here.

Burmese Bean Salad

Bean Salad in Ngapali | Myanmar Traditional Food | Must-try dishes of Burmese Cuisine | Stories by Soumya
Bean Salad in Ngapali

Burmese love their salads or thokes. Apparently, the Burmese can turn anything into a salad by adding in fried garlic, onions, nuts, and baby shrimps. 

Following our love for the Burmese thoke, we discovered the green beans salad in Ngapali. It was made out of long beans sautéed in oil and garnished with fried onions and garlic, and a generous amount of peanuts. My 5-year old loved it and so did we.

Authentic Burmese green beans salad recipe

Where to find green beans salad in Myanmar?

At all restaurants in Ngapali. However, we liked the bean salad at the beach shacks the best. So, get your dose of bean thoke at an evening beach shack at Ngapali amidst the thunderous roar of the India ocean and a couple of sticks of yummy grilled fish. I am sure you will not regret it.

Burmese Indian Food

Ethnic Indians form about 2% of the Burmese population and are mostly concentrated in and around Yangon and Mandalay. We were lucky enough to taste authentic Burmese Indian food in both these places.

The food is Indian but it has a got a refreshing Burmese whiff to it. The curries, vegetable sautés, and even the parathas tasted a little different from the usual Indian fare.

And since there are so many Indian restaurants, it is never very difficult to get a wholesome vegetarian meal in Myanmar. You can easily get an Indian thali, dosas or “thosai”, and parathas and curries.

Where to find Burmese Indian food?

There are a number of Indian restaurants in Mandalay and Yangon. We would strongly recommend trying out the food at Kuang Thant Cafe/Nay Cafe on the 82nd 27th Streets in Mandalay. It is a streetside restaurant and opens only by evening. The rotis/parathas of Nay are a big hit. Hygiene may not be great but the food is delicious.

Fried and Stuffed Pancakes

Burmese love deep fried snacks. It is almost impossible to walk by a street and not spot fried snacks at a number of vendors. Apart from the ubiquitous samusa, you can spot fried pancakes (the round ones) and stuffed pancakes (the square ones) across the country. These are generally vegetarian with the filling consisting of beans, potatoes, onions, and cabbage. Eat them hot because that is when they taste the best.

Where Can I Find Them?

At streetside vendors across the country. We spotted quite a few joints on our way from Sittwe to Mrauk-U. This picture was taken at a local market in Thandwe.

Myanmar Shrimp Curry

It is hard not to find and relish a shrimp curry when you are in Southeast or South Asia. However, Burmese shrimp curries are not quite the same as Thai or Indian ones.

High on flavors, medium on spices, and low on broth, a Burmese shrimp curry has its own characteristic flavor and taste. Paired with rice, it can make for a perfect lunch during the day.

Quick and easy Burmese shrimp curry

Where to find Myanmar shrimp curry?

Across restaurants in Myanmar. However, I would strongly recommend trying the Rakhine shrimp curry in Mrauk-U. That was definitely our favorite.

Related: A Travel Guide To Mrauk-U

BBQ in Yangon

This is not necessarily a gem of Myanmar traditional cuisine but definitely a must-try experience when in Yangon.

The busy BBQ street in Yangon attracts a lot of tourists. It has a number of restaurants, open BBQ and drinking places, and enjoyable crowds. The food is cheap and decent for the taste buds.

I loved the grilled chicken wrapped in veggies. The place can be a bit of a disappointment if you are looking for the variety of Thailand or Vietnam. But it is great for a country that is still finding its way in international tourism.

Where to find barbeque in Myanmar?

The BBQ Street is on the 19th Street in Yangon but is not restricted to it. Connecting streets also house lots of BBQ spots.

My experience of food in Myanmar was great. I found the food delicious, flavorful, and not extremely spicy which actually worked for me. I would love to hear your experience of Burmese food. What was your favorite dish in Myanmar? Did you taste any of these jewels of Myanmar traditional food? Feel free to drop a comment below.

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Soumya loves to travel and write about it on her blog, Stories by Soumya. A Master's in International Marketing Strategy, she is fascinated by differences in people, culture, and routines. Soumya has traveled to 27 countries in the last 11 years and specializes in cultural and historical travel. Her favorite destinations are Greece, Portugal, & Sri Lanka. And right now, she is dreaming of Armenia.
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41 thoughts on “Myanmar Traditional Food: 10 Authentic Burmese Dishes You Need To Try

  1. Are you looking for Myanmar’s best traditional food? Want to try the best vegetarian Indian food in Myanmar? Thus, we know the importance of Indian spices in preparing authentic, rich meals. Our own company is in this industry. Fire & Ice Restaurant provides Indian food, catering services, party decorations, and event planning. Fire & Ice is the best Indian restaurant in Yangon Myanmar.

  2. Burmese food looks inviting for sure. I can see an Indian touch too. Samosa Thoke and Bean salad look very interesting to me. Good to hear there is lot of vegetarian food. Laphet thoke sounds and reads best of all. Now, I know what to dig into whenever I visit Myanmar.

  3. The food of Myanmar looks enticing. The Samosa Thoke in particular seems something we would really relish. It is nice to note that there is no dearth of options for vegetarians and vegans. The Indian food with a Burmese twist is something else that we would definitely try out when we are there,

    1. You have picked the best dish of all, Samosa Thoke. And yes, Myanmar is definitely vegetarian-friendly. I am sure you will love it there.

  4. Those samusa look like the Irani ones we get in Hyderabad- small, crispy and flaky! I love sampling local cuisine during travels but most of the times I don’t as some countries do use Oyster sauce, fish stock et al even in the preparation of vegetarian food. But, I am sure with an ethnic Indian population,Myanmar offers the variety you have mentioned in this post and much more to tantalize my taste buds 😀

    1. Exactly. I was surprised to find so many veggie options in the Burmese cuisine. That makes it a great option for vegetarians

  5. Myanmar is the last country I haven’t visited in SE Asia. I bookmarked your post so that when I go I know where to start with eating lol. However, I heard form a few friends of mine that Burmese food is a bit too sweet (in general). Is that true?

    1. Hi Daniel, I am really sorry about the tardy reply. Am so glad you found my post helpful. We did not find anything sweet at all. And none of the dishes in my post were actually sweet. So, I don’t think sweet can be generally applied to Burmese food. Hope that helps.

  6. One thing I love the most about traveling is to try out the local food. I have not been to Myanmar but what I see here regarding local food looks absolutely delicious. Especially the Samosa Thoke looks so good, I would love to try that out. Shrimp curry as well, totally my kind… Yes I just realized that I am very hungry right now.

    1. You should definitely go to Myanmar then. The best of food available there. Yeah the Samosa Thoke is delicious

  7. My mouth’s watering after reading this post. I haven’t yet been to Myanmar but it looks beautiful. The food culture’s very interesting too. I like the sound of the bbq and the Moringa national dish the most.

    1. Hahaha. That’s the best compliment I could have ever gotten for this post. Definitely some amazing dishes there.

  8. We were hoping to visit Myanmar earlier this year but in the end we didn’t have enough time and didn’t want to just squeeze it in. Now we want to go next year instead. We love to sample local food when we travel and it looks like the food in Myanmar is amazing! Can’t wait to try a Burmese salad 🙂

    1. Yeah, Burmese salads are the best. I think you made the right decision by not squeezing it in. You will love it when you get there.

  9. Thanks for sharing the delicious dishes of Myanmar. I love their tea salad, samosa soup and noodles. But, I can’t wait to have them in Burma. I heard they are much better in Burma.

  10. This is truly a yummy post! I have memories of a dish from Myanmar which we had when we crossed over from Mizorm during our backpacking North East India trip. The dish in Myanmar was called Lapeto. And just mentioning about it is mouth watering! haha! These traditional foods from Myanmar look so tasty and I cannot wait to get there to try them all!

    1. Thank you so much Navita. Appreciate the love. Is the Lapeto the Laphet Thoke that I have talked about? A tea-leaf salad? The food is definitely tasty here. I can imagine wanting to go back and having all of it.

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