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Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Myanmar Food: Pass the Noodles!

We had ever only had Burmese food at the two New York Burmese restaurants. It always seemed like a fusion of Indian, Chinese, Thai, and other Asian tastes, and that proved to be true. What we did not expect is just how strong the Chinese influence was, with much more of the food in Myanmar being Chinese-esque than expected. Myanmar also has many, many noodle dishes, almost all of which were delicious as long as they weren't served in fish broth.

As soon as we found a hotel room, we started walking down the street to sample the delicious looking street food that we had seen on our way to the hotel. A few feet from our door, we found a boy-man with a bunch of noodles under a net. How sanitary! (Well, compared to many countries, at least.) So, we ordered some of whatever he was selling. He took handfuls of each type of noodles, what appeared to be tofu strips, cabbage, crispy fried things, and tons of spices and sauces, threw them in a bowl, and mixed them up.
This was the result. An amazing mixed noodle concoction. We ate many during our time in Yangon.
Shortly after, we saw a woman with a huge bowl of white stuff, another of green goo, and a loaf of bread. We ordered one. We got a bowl of coconut milk with different jellies and a slice of bread. The slice of soggy bread was really weird, but it was otherwise good.
Wondering where the random fried things might be? Seek no more. From the first random fried thing woman, we bought a fried vegetable thing, a fried donut thing, and a fried potato thing. They came with some nice spicy soy sauce and all were pretty good.
A different noodle dish that tasted completely different than the mixed noodles, but was also amazingly good. You will note the chopsticks--in Myanmar, you almost always get a spoon, a fork, and chopsticks.
Fried dumplings with vegetables are popular at the night market.
So are these things, which might be egg or might be tofu. They didn't have much flavor. I don't suggest them. Use your stomach space on more noodles!
In Myanmar, everyone eats at tiny kid tables. It is really funny. Sometimes you see an actual kid eating at one and laugh because the kid fits at the table unlike everyone else. In this picture, you can also see that every table has a pot of tea, which is free for customers at almost all restaurants. You can't see that it's bad tea, but you can take my word for it.
What's that sticky, gloopy thing? We didn't know, either, but it turned out to be coconut, sugar, and other stuff turned into a decent desserty item.
The shaved ice/snow cone variant in Myanmar comes with jellies and peanuts. The peanuts are a really great addition that should be added around the world. Are you listening world? Put peanuts on your snow cones!
Steamed sweet rice with banana. We didn't know what it was until I ordered one. As often happened in Myanmar, I just asked for one assuming the guy spoke no English, then he told us what it was in English. He added coconut to the top, then I asked if I could add some of the stuff that looked like sugar. He said sure, but looked at me strangely, as he knew it was salt, not sugar. Even with salt, it wasn't bad.
Myanmar has its own brand of cookies! Tara says they tasted like Lemon Pledge. I liked the cookies, so maybe I should try some Pledge.
We really liked both the use of Donald Duck to market this ice cream and the name of the ice cream: Wa-Ha-Ha. It sounds so evil. I tried some other ice cream that looked similar, and it turned out to be durian flavored, which many people would say is evil.
We did not actually try these sheets of fried fish, but they look too amazing not to photograph. If I wanted to eat small, aquarium fish like these, I would want them deep fried, though.
Myanmar has its own brand of fruit drinks since no American or European company does business with the country. The passion fruit juice was good.
This noodle dish from the Mandalay night market had a coconut broth with chicken and was terrific. Every place in Myanmar seems to make its own distinct noodle dishes.
This dried pork and chili dish was spicy, but nothing like Thai spicy.
At a bus stop in the middle of no where, I hopped off and a woman was selling fried things. I immediately ordered one. Another tourist asked what it was and I told him to wait a minute and I would find out. They turned out to be filled with sweet coconut and were amazing. We ordered many more, but never saw them elsewhere in the country.
The breakfast noodle dish is called mohingo. It had noodles, hot sauce, bean powder, meat, and other stuff, which you mix together before eating. Very good, though at this point some people may think Myanmar has too many noodles.
Tara ordered a potato curry, and this is what she got. Can't say they skimped on the potatoes. It was good, but she had to give some of the potatoes to me.
What will happen if you take some of all of this stuff, put it in a pot, and cook it? Will those blue noodles turn everything blue? Let's find out.
Most of the blue tint is sadly lost in the cooking, but it does make a wonderful meal. The seasoning is amazing, though the picture can't convey that.
Not so amazing is the fermented tea leaves (and sometimes fermented other things) that are very popular in Myanmar. In some cases, a couple of bites could probably make you drunk. In other cases, a couple of bites might bring back your dinner. Terrible, really. Sorry, Myanmar, but your really struck out on the creation.
Maybe these giant things were shrimp crackers. Maybe not. They didn't taste fishy, but did taste like giant shrimp crackers. We mostly bought it because it was huge. If I ever start a food company, everything will be bigger than my head.
These potato-leek puffs were good, but did not pass the bigger-than-my-head test.
We had seen these fried donut things often, but it was disappointingly plain. The fried bread with sugar on the right was much better and we had more of those at other times.
Only when we hiked to the worthless Golden Rock did we find frozen popsicles in a bag like in Africa. Strangely, they add a bit of salt in Myanmar. Probably to help hydrate you in the hot sun, but I prefer my popsicles without the salt.
Some greens and bamboo shoots. Not the best, but not bad. Things like this are often served as side dishes to the main dish in real restaurants. Since we mostly ate on the street, we didn't sample that many.
Myanmar has a lot of little stands with a vat of boiling pork broth where you can boil your choice of pig parts. Well, unless you want actual meat, then you are out of luck. Liver, lung, intestine, and snout are all easy enough.
That wraps up food. Myanmar has the most noodle variety of any place we have ever been. Many of the dishes look similar, but taste completely different. Beyond that, they have some good meat stew-like curries, and then eat a lot of Chinese-style fried rice and noodles. We really enjoyed eating in Myanmar, though Tara was a bit sick of noodles by the end. I never tire of noodles, but won't miss the fish broth that is often served.


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