When we stepped out of our hotel room to explore Yangon’s Chinatown one evening, we were in shock. There was so much amazing street food everywhere. And it was all so inexpensive and delicious!
The street food vendors in Yangon, Myanmar are masters of their craft. In the evenings, every block in and around Chinatown comes to life as different stands open up for business. There are so many to choose from it’s almost overwhelming to decide what to pick!
Food in Myanmar is heavily influenced by neighboring India and China, which results in a delightful blend of sweet, savory, and spicy options. As you make your way through the Yangon street food scene, you won’t want to miss out on these dishes.
7 Amazing Street Foods To Try in Yangon’s Chinatown
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1. Mote Lin Ma Yar
One of the first things we tried in Yangon was Mote Lin Ma Yar, which is affectionately known as “couple’s snack” since the two sides are joined together after getting cooked to perfection. Mote Lin Ma Yar is made with rice flour, ginger, salt, onions, sugar, and other ingredients depending on the vendor.
The batter is then poured into a mold which looks like a cross between a bubble-waffle maker and a muffin pan. Once each side is done cooking, some additional add-ons such as chickpeas or scallions are added in before two pieces become one.
Expect to pay 100 Kyat ($0.07 USD) if only buying one as a sampler, but buying 10 will run you around 300 to 500 Kyat ($0.21 to $0.35 USD).
2. Burmese Fritters
There are no shortage of fried goodies in Yangon’s street food scene, but one that seems to be recurring is a fried fritter with corn, prawns, or just anything else.
We were feeling adventurous and went with the prawn cake, but in hindsight the corn one probably would have been better. We paid 500 Kyat ($0.35 USD), which is probably too much, but still a great deal nonetheless.
As mentioned earlier, the street food in Yangon is heavily influenced by its neighbors. Dosas are a popular type of folded crepe hailing from India, and their deliciousness has spread to Myanmar too.
The ladies making dosas are constantly busy since their tasty snacks are in high demand. We waited for over 15 minutes while a woman was continuously whipping up dosas in an iron pan over a charcoal grill. It really was an experience just to watch her prepare them.
The dosas generally come in two styles; savory and sweet. The savory ones are served with egg, shredded cabbage, beans, tomatoes, chilis, and sprouts. The sweet style is served with egg, coconut, beans, and sugar.
Once they’re done cooking and expertly removed from the pan, the woman served us our dosas wrapped in newspaper. Both were bursting we flavor and we immediately knew why that particular stand was in such high demand. Best of all, each dosa set us back 500 Kyat ($0.35 USD).
Street food is an awesome way to save money while traveling. If you’re a budget traveler like us, check out these 53 Ways To Save Money While Traveling.
4. Sweet fried dough
It was this stand that really captured our hearts while we were in Yangon. We walked by this unsuspecting stand and saw massive wads of dough which had risen to be larger than grapefruits. At that point, curiosity took over and we ordered one for 300 Kyat ($0.21 USD). Perhaps it was Roti Paratha?
While we didn’t capture the name of the dish, it was truly incredible. The massive ball of dough was beaten down into a disk and tossed into an iron pan with a thin layer of oil. Once it was the perfect shade of golden brown, the man took it out of the pan and started hacking away at it with a knife and some scissors. From there, he sprinkled sugar on top and served the fluffy little bites in a bag with some skewers.
The final product was like a more puffy version of naan, and the sugar coating on top really made it shine.
5. Burmese Barbecue
To truly experience Burmese barbecue at its finest, you have to go to 19th Street. Right in the heart of Chinatown, 19th Street is famous in Yangon for being a culinary hub.
Here is where you’ll find dozens of restaurants with barbecue skewers and plenty of cheap beer. While much of Yangon’s street food scene is takeaway, 19th Street is a place to find a place to sit down.
There are certainly plenty of barbecue skewer options to choose from; chicken, pork, beef, pepper, fish, tofu, prawns, squid, and much more. Even chicken hearts are on the menu!
To begin, grab a basket, and then start grabbing skewers. Once you’re satisfied with your selections, pass your basket to one of the servers. You’ll then be escorted to a table.
We went with just a small variety of skewers: curried chicken, pork and pepper, garlic cloves, and vegetables wrapped in (presumably) pork. It’s best to choose meats which are raw. If they are pre-cooked, it’s possible the skewers will just be warmed instead of thoroughly cooked.
The four skewers set us back 4,000 Kyat ($2.77 USD) so while eating on 19th Street is more expensive than the rest of the Yangon street food scene, it still shouldn’t break the bank.
6. Fresh fruit with lime juice
Over on 13th Street there is a stand run by a very kind woman selling freshly cut fruit. We were chatting with a local who told us she serves it three ways; plain, with condensed milk, or with lime juice. He personally recommended with lime juice so that was what we ordered.
The fruit bowl came out with a huge selection of fruits over ice. She put in dragonfruit, papaya, apple, avocado, melon, and pineapple. With the tart of the lime juice and the cold ice, it all went together harmoniously.
We paid 2,000 Kyat ($1.38 USD) which seemed like a great price considering the very generous portion size.
Fermented yogurt is very popular in Myanmar. Unlike the sweet or rich varieties Westerners are accustomed to, this particular variety has a somewhat sour and acidic taste.
A scoop of yogurt with a little palm sugar added is mixed together in a cup with a bit of ice. The result is cool and chunky drink which is very refreshing on a hot day. For us, the taste wasn’t what we were looking for, since it was definitely sour and acidic. Just because we didn’t care for it, doesn’t mean you won’t! It was 1,000 Kyat ($0.69 USD) for a cup so for that price it’s worth a try.
What To Pack For Yangon, Myanmar
Myanmar is an intimidating country to pack for…especially for Westerners. It’s such a different country than what we’re used to. So if you’re struggling to come up with what to pack, don’t worry. You’re not alone!
We’ve been traveling full-time for almost a year so at this point, we are pretty much packing experts. Here are a few things that we are so glad that we brought to Myanmar.
- LifeStraw Water Bottle: The water in Myanmar is not safe to drink. This means you can either purchase plastic water bottles everywhere you go (which is expensive and terrible for the environment). OR you can get a Lifestraw Water Bottle which has an awesome filter that allows you to drink the tap water (or any water for that matter). Order it on Amazon here.
- Anker Portable Battery Charger: It’s so hard to find outlets in Myanmar. And we can’t risk our phones dying on a long travel day. That’s why we love the Anker portable battery charger. It can charge your smart phone up to 7 times. It’s saved our butts so many times. Get it here.
Check out these 17 Things That We Can’t Travel Without for some other ideas.
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