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Best Burmese Food Outside Burma...in Fort Wayne?!

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Fort Wayne, Indiana sits at the crossroads of the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt. In recent years it has become home to many Burmese refugees. The largest population outside of Burma. There are several Burmese groceries, a restaurant came and went. But now two new Burmese restaurants are there, making great homecooked foods. MAHNIN ASIAN RESTAURANT on South Calhoun is in a deco era building that for many years housed an auto dealership. The menu is mostly Thai dishes. But if you ask they will give you Burmese dishes. They have more on the weekend. I had an excellent meaty shrimp roll (or “rool” on the menu). Sauteed rice noodles one with vegetables and the other with chicken. A terrific thai green curry shrimp. Fried rice with chicken. All dishes very tasty. Maybe even better on the North Side was YATHAMON ASIAN CUISINE on East State Blvd. occupying the former space of an Ethiopian eatery. They have more Burmese items on their menu and white board (ask for translation). But not to leave that large Eastern continent uncovered they also serve Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Indian. We started with a lemon salad. Unusual, good and dare I say…zesty! Had fried tofu fingers with a sweet dip.They had many Burmese curries available. We had pork with bamboo shoots and Chicken with potato. Both simple and great.
Fried rice with shrimp and sweet sausage was very good.
A shrimp salad was very interesting but to me tasted a bit strange: whole shrimps cooked, in a sharp sour sauce. Ended with: Fantastic rice pudding/gel dessert.
Yathamon Asian was relaxed, informal with owner's family and kids about and several of the men wore colorful sarongs, and they didn’t mind when we changed the TV channel. The scene would be exotic in NYC in Fort Wayne it was downright surreal. I’m no expert on Burmese food but both these places promise deep authentic cooking. I hope they can survive,

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  1. Barry, what an incredible report. I envision hounds everywhere getting on planes.

    Did you by any chance sample my favorite Burmese dessert, slices of moist semolina called, phonetically, something like "squee-GEE"?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      I thought this was the great dessert we were served, but they said it was made with rice??
      BTW I understand that both these places serve "Mon" style food. The Mon are one of the oldest indigenous peoples in Asia.

      1. re: Barry Strugatz

        Cool. It's spelled "mong", fwiw. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mong

        1. re: Jim Leff

          I actually do mean "Mon" not to be confused with the Hmong people.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mon_people

          1. re: Barry Strugatz

            Oh, COOL! I didn't know about this! Thanks!

      2. re: Jim Leff

        I have gone out of my way before, especiall ywhen on h=business and I can cheat a bit. Ft Wayne....

      3. This is great to hear! I think the affordability and laid-back nature of the midwest is drawing more and more new immigrant populations to the region. My hometown of Kalamazoo, MI has a great little Malaysian joint in a dinky strip mall next to a dry cleaners. Since moving, the food I miss most is theirs and the various middle-eastern spots around town.

        Next time I'm coming back home for a visit, I might have to swing through South Bend and try some Burmese!

        1. I'll be in Auburn in a few weeks. This certainly sounds like a reason to detour into Fort Wayne.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hubajube

            Just don't go on Monday. Both places are closed.

            1. re: Barry Strugatz

              Actually, Mahnin is now open Mondays with Burmese specials -- $3.99 a plate, I think. Enjoy! :)

              1. re: lacisne

                Do you have any favorite dishes there?

          2. Any update on Burmese in Fort Wayne? I'm here for work today/tomorrow and went to Mahnin Asian Retaurant. It was delish! Unfortunately the Burmese specials are only served Sunday/Monday, but I did try a noodle salad that was tasty.

            I'm looking for another restaurant to try while I'm here! I don't think Yathamon is around anymore (or at least I can't find an address/phone # anywhere). Any suggestions? If not, maybe I'll go back anyway to get some Thai food. I'm in town from NYC, where the Thai food isn't the best.

            15 Replies
            1. re: jen223

              Yes, ' understand Yathamon is closed. You could try asking at one of the Burmese groceries. Also talk to the people at Mahnin and perhaps they can make a couple of Burmese dishes for you.
              Please report back any discoveries.

              1. re: Barry Strugatz

                Good news! Though I mourned the loss of the late, great Yathamon I am happy to report the opening of an amazing new Burmese restaurant: Akaungzaar Asian Restaurant. Unlike Mahnin which mainly has Burmese food on weekends, the unpronounceable Akaungzaar has superb Burmese food all the time, in addition to Thai dishes. I was in Fort Wayne briefly so I only had a chance to sample five dishes, all of the highest quality. Lat Fat Tok, pickled tea leaf salad. Potato samosa. Ket Kay Kite, stir fried flat rice boodles with shrimp and scrambled egg. O Cut, a moderately spicy dry chicken curry. Shwe Kyi, banana flavored semolina cake. The owner was super friendly, though not strong in English he brought over his Burmese dictionary to help. The other patrons were all Burmese. They open at 9AM serving a traditional Burmese breakfast of fish soup and lo mein salad. I hope this place survives so please check it out.

                Akaungzaar Asian Restaurant. 5205 Decauter Road. Fort Wayne, IN (260) 755-0149

                1. re: Barry Strugatz

                  Some background on Mahnin--

                  http://tinyurl.com/89k9azo http://tinyurl.com/76nbxa9

                  I have absolutely no reason to go to Ft Wayne, but am seriously considering the 3 hour road trip just to try Mahnin and Akaungzarr! Sounds like Sunday may be the best day to go. Per Urban Spoon it appears Mahnin is closed Tuesdays now.

                  1. re: ak994

                    Akaungzarr is closed Mondays.
                    Be sure to ask them to tell you the daily specials that are written in Burmese on the white board.
                    And please report back!

                    1. re: Barry Strugatz

                      Barry,
                      I appreciate your posts, very useful when we make it to Ft Wayne for a visit!
                      Are there any interesting non-food places -shops or temples or festivals/holidays (buddha's birthday/ new years type thing etc) of note?
                      thanks.

                      1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                        There are festivals. I've never been but this web page has links that might help. The Burmese Advocacy group would know.
                        http://www.visitfortwayne.com/blog/in...

                        1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                          There is a worthy air or military history museum of some sort there. I mean to visit that some day with my son, in combination with the Burmese experience.

                        2. re: Barry Strugatz

                          Barry,
                          Have you considered having a Chowhound gathering ? I'm sure folks from SE MI & Chicago would be interested.

                          1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                            I'm located in NYC and just visit occasionally. But feel free to organize one...

                            1. re: Barry Strugatz

                              LOL! I assumed you were in Indiana!
                              :)

                            2. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                              I'm in Northwest Indiana, and I'd be game for such an outing sometime.

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                OK, will keep you posted!

                        3. re: Barry Strugatz

                          Barry, you should win some kind of chow award for this thread! We were in Ft. Wayne for my brother's wedding this past weekend (from Philadelphia) and as I happen to scan the Great Lakes board occasionally, I'd saved this thread for that occasion. We had a late lunch at Akaungzaar Asian Restaurant and it was amazing! I asked the owner to point out the Burmese dishes and we shared a steamed pork dish (which we think was tripe-ish, but so so good) to start and then my husband had the Ket Kay Kite and I had the O Cut, both with pork. Incredible! The flavors were great, definitely different from other asian flavor profiles, and spicy (as we requested). We also had a drink that seemed to be like a thai iced coffee, but the owner pointed it out as burmese... maybe it was a tea? Not too sweet, very good.

                          1. re: urbanfabric

                            So glad you liked it. Please spread the word. Ft. Wayne has already seen two Burmese restaurants come and go. This one might be the best. And the owners are extremely nice.

                            1. re: Barry Strugatz

                              a visit is still on the agenda for sometime later this summer- have been reading Burmese cookbooks for now!
                              :)

                    2. Imagine my surprise when I went to look for a restaurant in Fort Wayne and the posting was by you! Don't know if you remember me-an old friend of Mark Burns'....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Meliciap

                        Hi Melicia,
                        Sure I remember you. Let me know if you check out the Burmese, it's excellent. Fort Wayne has good Mexican and BBQ. Also there are Amish farm meals an hour or so North.

                      2. Great thread. I was aware of, and have enjoyed Mahnin, but was unaware of Akaungzaar. What a great place ! We go every Sunday now. Thanks a million.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: flyseye

                          I heard in July that they were closed for renovations, so I'm glad to hear they reopened. What dishes do you like there?

                          1. re: Barry Strugatz

                            Not much there we dont like to be honest. I am fond of almost all of the noodle dishes, while my wife likes the various curry offerings. Fantastic place. If not for this thread, it's likely we wouldnt have known about the place as we are seldom in that part of town. Thanks again. (I found this thread by googling Ft Wayne Thai food)