In July we spent about a month in Myanmar travelling from Mandalay to Bagan, Kalaw, Inle Lake, and ending in Yangon. Eating out in Myanmar is extremely cheap, we’d often pay less than 1,5 euro for a dish! As it was our first stop on our round the world trip, we were a bit hesitant to try the street food but we found that after some time in Asia, we’ve become less picky :). Every place we visited in Myanmar had plenty of veggie (vegan even) options so these are our top tips.
If you’re looking for veggie food (or vegan food) in Myanmar, just ask if the food is “thethalu”, which translates to “lifeless” and means that no animals or animal derivatives where used to prepare it. Super easy!
We only stayed here for three days, visiting the royal cities and biking our way around this small city. The first night we ate at Marie Minn’s, a fully vegetarian restaurant with a very large choice of curries and local Burmese food. We tried the coconut tofu curry with rice and the tomato salad, one of Myanmar’s specialities featuring peppers and peanuts. We even went back the second night! It was one of the best meals we’ve had in Myanmar.
Ah beautiful Bagan, the place in Myanmar that stole our heart! If we weren’t cruising around our e-bike temple hunting and learning Italian, we were trying one of the many delicious dishes at The Moon. We tried the green curry, veggie noodles, a tomato salad to die for, the massaman curry and fried okra, all very yummy. All credits to the friendly staff that often spent quite some time waiting for Flore to order (indecisive you say? Naaaah).
Also tried, tested and approved in Bagan: a little family restaurant called San Thi Dar. Has a completely different feel to it, less western and more local (you even get a Buddhist guide to read while your food is prepared!) and you have to be a bit more patient, but boy do they serve a good “special eggplant salad”!
Weather Spoon’s at Nyuang U, the little town near Bagan where we stayed, is a great bar to have a beer and relax if you’re templed out for the day. It’s the place where all the young people tend to go, they have great WiFi and they even set up an extra table for you on the street if the place is already crowded. We had a delicious tea leaf salad, a Burmese specialty featuring pickled tea leafs, tomato and roasted nuts, and a great veggie burger.
Needless to say we felt like resting and eating a bit after our 60 km trek from Kalaw to Inle (read what we had for dinner at the homestay over here). So that’s about all we did there: eat, sleep, rest our feet, repeat. On the menu? The best Indian food we could find at Innlay Hut Indian Food House, featuring a vegetarian kebab “specially made for us”. We ate there twice (there’s a pattern here folks :)) and the restaurant owner always proposed to make us “something special” so we suspect he just doesn’t have that many dishes to offer, but his food was one of the best we’ve had in Myanmar!
Our two Israelian friends who we met also recommended the Real Nyaungshwe bakery, a place we wouldn’t normally enter because it didn’t look like a restaurant, but their shakshouka, a Israeli dish our friends really missed from back home, was very tasty.
Also worth mentioning is Lucky Star, a restaurant a bit away from the main food street and market area. We had the most amazing banana leaf salad and fresh pineapple juice. If you’re in Inle, try the eggplant skewers at One Owl Grill, a place we thought was a bit expensive, but the eggplant was so good, nice and tender, with a sweet and sour dip… Flore could’ve eaten this all day, every day!
We couldn’t write this post without mentioning the excellent old fashioned cocktail we had at Chillax. If you’re in the neighbourhood, pop in for some drinks, made with special attention to every detail. The bartenders love to chat while you enjoy their drink, they even hooked us up with a good barbers address in Yangon. Such friendly guys!
By now you get that eating and drinking really was the only thing we did in Inle. So for the one and only activity we did near the lake (except crossing it with the boat after our trek) was riding a bike to go… wine tasting 🙂
We stayed a couple of days in Myanmar’s biggest city, eating, writing and waiting for our meditation course to start. In our review of the ten-day course, you can read how we survived with only two meals a day before noon. We did visit the Shwedagon pagoda, where we participated in the candle lighting ceremony Buddhists have to honour their blessings. If you’re interested in how life around Yangon unfolds, the three-hour ride on the circular train is a nice thing to do in Yangon.
A must visit in Yangon is the Shan Noodle Shop 999. We totally agree with Tripadvisor on this one as their noodles are one of the best in Yangon and they are so cheap! But a warning for you veggies out there: you get free soup (and tea) with your meal… but it’s chicken soup. We went there twice, the first time we smelled it right away that it was chicken soup, the second time we were already eating it when they brought us “the vegetarian soup”. This must have been the first time in over ten years that I (Flore) ate meat!
We also found a great noodle shop thanks to this vegetarian guide tot Myanmar, a place we wouldn’t have found through Tripadvisor. But we’re glad we visited because they had the best shan noodles, topped with some sort of liquid tofu. In the shan state, there are two sorts of tofu; the traditional one made out of soy beans and then the local one, more yellow and less firm and made out of chickpeas.
One of our most memorable meals was at the New Delhi Restaurant, often referred to as the best Indian restaurant in Yangon. Our hotel was right in the middle of India Town (next to China Town) so we decided to pop in… to a special kind of concept. We were the only tourists in the restaurant and we certainly looked like people who didn’t seem to belong there. But we spoke those magic words, “thethalu” and literally within seconds we had those typical Indian dinner plates in front of us while different people at a time came serving us rice, chapatti, fried green veggies, chickpea curry and dahl soup. All absolutely delicious, the flavors matching perfectly with each other. All the time while we were eating, the whole restaurant seemed to be yelling at each other for what we soon discovered was… the refill! Flore enthusiastically decided she wanted more, raised her hand and saw the young waiter with three little buckets of questionable hygiene, scooping some more curry on our plate. We looked at each other and figured we’ll probably be staying close to the bathroom tomorrow…
Little did we know that that moment wouldn’t come the next day, but the day after, when we had a lovely lunch at the most touristy street in uptown Yangon (hipster coffee bar alert) in a clean restaurant filled with locals. AKA no warning signs for the terrible hours that would follow, spent throwing up all night long. Guess food poisoning just adds that little extra challenge when you have to start a ten-day silent meditation course the next day…
We hope this gives you some ideas when visiting Myanmar and would love to hear about any good restaurants we’ve missed in the comments!
Be sure to check out some other blogs we’ve found really helpful: