It’s also safe to call it a delicious mash-up of the spicy rich curries of India, the garlicky sweet sauces of China, and the bright herb-filled salads and soups of Thailand. There’s nothing quite like it, and Yangon is a city built for snacking. The best street food in Yangon can be found at temporary carts set up by vendors each morning, and the stews and snacks sold throughout the day represent a wide cross-section of different cultures and ethnicities.
Yangon street food vendors are the kings and queens of the pop-up. Their business takes them wherever they may go, the necessary equipment, set up in a matter of minutes. Unlike street food vendors in some other cities, they are mobile every few hours. The face and smell of a street changes every time we walk down it, a different hour, a different menu.
A day in the life of Yangon’s street food will leave you licking your fingers, eyes open for the next thing to devour, and with a very sweaty back. From crispy coconut cakes to flavorsome noodles, you’re sure to find something tempting on every corner of Yangon, Bagan, and places in between. With more than 135 ethnic groups and borders shared with Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand, it’s safe to say that the cuisine of Myanmar is diverse and eclectic.
Palaung Pickled Tea
The chief crop of cultivation among the Palaung is tea. The tea shrub is indigenous to areas where they live and grows wild all over the hills while tea cultivation is closely associated with Tawngpang. The tea is made in two forms: 1) Neng Yam, or wet or pickled tea; and 2) dry tea. One needs skills and experience for picking, drying, and curing of tea leaves. The leaves are steamed in a wooden strainer with a perforated bamboo bottom, which is placed over a large cauldron of boiling water. It is steamed for a few minutes just to moisten and soften the leaves so that they can be easily and quickly rolled with the fingers on mats while another lot is being steamed. These steamed and rolled leaves are spread out on the screen resulting in dry tea. Myanmar people like pickled tea more than anyone else and it has become a delicacy for them and is eaten mixed with a little oil, salt, garlic and topped off with sesame seeds.
More specifically, pig brains. Murky white chunks of the 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. he idea of eating pig brains is not appetizing to most travelers, but those seeking a plate of unusual or weird food in Southeast Asia, the pig brains on Beer Street in Yangon are a great start.
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 flavor. For those daring individuals who want a taste, street vendors, and restaurants in Chinatown (Latha Township) are the places to go.
Roasted chicken legs and rooster heads
A common snack is green tea leaves mixed with nuts. Other offbeat foods include pickled ferns, cooked field crabs, mice, snake, insect lrvae, and fish innards. Burmese eat roasted locusts skewered on a stick. Some tribes are quite fond of them. Cooked sparrows served on a banana leaf with rice are commonly sold on the streets. No part of a chicken is wasted. It is not unusual to have chicken soup with bits of beak, claws, crop, eyeballs, and bones floating around in it.