Inle Myanmar Restaurant in Singapore
I have a weakness for Penang fried koay teow, which is lighter (in taste, texture & even appearance) than Singapore fried koay teow, but getting good Penang fried koay teow has become an impossibility in recent years here.
Last night, I found a marvellous "new" version of fried koay teow in town - and it's actually Myanmarese! Lightly fried with prawns, eggs, beansprouts, a generous dash of chilli paste & crisp mungbeans, it closely approximated Penang-style fried koay teow.
Inle Myanmar restaurant is located in the basement of Peninsula Plaza, replete with Myanmarese shops & businesses of all ilk, and its clientele is 99% Burmese/Myanmarese
For dinner last night, we also ordered:
- Mohinga, a spicy-sourish noodle soup dish consisting of rice vermicelli, fried fish cake, boiled egg, fried mungbean fritters, sliced young banana stems. The broth was fish-flavoured, with hints of galangal, onions, ginger & ngapi (fish paste). In fact, it tasted 80% similar to the famous Penang laksa. Come to think of it, both Penang and erstwhile Burma were British colonies in the 19th/20th century & were close neighbours (separated by independent Siam). Obviously, there must be close trade, cultural, social & even culinary ties between the two places.
- Bitter-gourd & tofu fritters which has a tempura-like crust which shatters at the slightest bite;
- two types of curry: one chicken, the other pork. Both curries tasted quite close, so I'd recommend ordering one or the other the next time. Both exhibited Indian influences, with sweetish undertones - reminiscent of Bengali-style curries in Dhaka/Kolkata;
- a strange fermented tea-leaves salad, which is very much an acquired taste.
Dessert was an ultra-rich shaved ice concoction filled with multi-colored jelly cubes, beans, corn, nuts, all drenched in psychedelic syrup & coconut creme. Seems like every South-East Asian country has a version of this dessert: Malaysian/Singaporean ice-kachang, Filipino halo-halo, Indonesian es campur/es teller; Thai nam kang sai (my childhood favorite).
Update: Nearly two years on, and Inle seemed to have flourished. Gone is the dinky hole-in-the-wall aura, to be replaced by spruced-up interiors with bright colors. Besides the original Peninsula Plaza (Little Myanmar) outlet, Inle has also sprouted a branch in Marina Square mall.
But I still preferred the original, close to the heart of the Myanmarese community - set amidst shops teeming with Burmese-speaking clientele. Numerous other Myanmarese casual eateries & foodstalls compete for diners looking for authentic Myanmar eats, so authenticity of food there is 100% guaranteed.
Inle's Mohinga was still just as good. One of its signature desserts - Hsanwin Makin (steamed semolina pudding, topped with raisins & poppyseeds) was still as addictive. Glad to know that some good things never change.
Peninsula Plaza Outlet
111 North Bridge Road
#B1-07 (A/B) Peninsula Plaza
That's great news! Thanks for the update, debbieann.
I'm happy to see that the Burmese diaspora is now growing again in Singapore and also Malaysia. Back in the 19th-century and early-20th century, there's always been a close relationship between the Burmese and the Malayans, as both were under British colonial rule. Hence, you have road names in Singapore and Penang like Rangoon Road, Mandalay Road, Moulmein Road, Arratoon Road, Burma Road, etc.
Rangoon is the old British name for Yangon. The early Burmese who came to Singapore used to refer to their hometown as Yangon - local Hokkien or Teochew-speaking Singaporeans in the 50s & 60s used to call them "people from Yangkong".
Culinarily-speaking, there's more similarity between Burmese cuisine and the Straits (Nyonya) cooking of Singapore, Malacca and Penang, than with Thai cuisine: for example, Burmese "mohinga" can almost be mistaken for Singaporean "mee siam".
Yes, it's opened for lunch. Started off as a hole-in-the-wall kinda place, think Komala Vilas.
But it's spruced itself up a bit & doubled its size recently by expanding into the next door unit. The last time I was at Peninsula Plaza (Cathay Photo's my fave place to buy cameras/equipment), there was a Burmese wedding luncheon reception at Inle.