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Anybody have anything for Burma?

I'm going to be traveling in Burma the last two weeks of February: the usual first-time itinerary -- Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle...anybody been? Any recommendations? Thanks!

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  1. Was there in 06, Yangon + Bagan. A resource I sued was a great article in Saveur by a woman who ran of the earliest Burmese restaurants in NYC. I knew when she was open for biz and she was pretty spot on.

    1. Search under Myanmar and you would have found my post from my visit in October last year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/851464

      1. I was in those places in Oct. 2012. Many of the restaurants cater to large groups with set meals and it's often difficult to navigate on your own. Had satisfactory food at the Green Kitchen in Bagan and good food at Le Planteur in Yangon. We stayed at Governor's Residence in Yangon and found the best Burmese food was served at breakfast in a lovely setting. There are several restaurants in Inle Lake to sample Shan noodles for lunch. Don't know where you are staying there but if you can visit Inle Princess Resort, you can try some of the most delicious food we had. Burma is quite an adventure.

        1. Here's my post from our trip to Burma in 2007. (I used to be known as "alice" but when there was the whacked out change of CH, I had to discard my old profile and create a new one..I am now "digga.") We skipped Mandalay, but visited Rangoon, Bagan, Inle, and Ngapali. (The locals all use the "old" nomenclature, as should you...the new government has imposed all the new names - Myanmar, Yangon, etc..)

          Of course, Sam would have been an invaluable resource, but he's no longer with us. :`(

          Feel free to email me for further tips/photos! We loved our trip as I hope you will, too!


          5 Replies
          1. re: digga

            "The locals all use the "old" nomenclature, as should you...the new government has imposed all the new names - Myanmar, Yangon, etc.."

            I thought this would be the case when we went there last year but it wasn't. The new post-Colonial names are in common usage. Thus it's always useful to search using the new names as they are becoming quite common.

            1. re: PhilD

              Phil - I'm not on board with the govt-mandated nomenclature. Perhaps the locals use it more nowadays, but I'm not convinced that's by choice. Check out Naomi Duguid's "Burma." She uses the old nomenclature throughout.

              1. re: digga

                I was like you before I went there last year. Who knows if it is by choice, always tricky to tell, but I found everyone used the term Myanmar so easier to go with the flow and I didn't feel it was especially forced. I felt we fitted in and maybe caused less hassle by doing so. We may believe we have a point of principle to make but I wouldn't have wanted to make locals uncomfortable by taking a stand.

                Lots of old colonial names are changing, and we seem to accept it happily on some countries but not others: Ceylon, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Malaya, East Pakistan Rhodesia and Peking have morphed into Sri Lanka, Mumbai, Kolkata, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Beijing without similar push back which seems a bit odd (given the politics of some of these changes).

                However, to stay with food, it's odd I need to order Beijing Duck now but still order a Chicken Madras....!

                1. re: PhilD

                  Fair enough! Looking forward to your Penang report - I loved it, though we never left Georgetown. Would love to go back and expand our horizons!

                2. re: digga

                  Not food-related, but I've been traveling in Myanmar since 2008 and been living on the Thai-Myanmar border since 2010. The locals for sure do not use the old nomenclature, and many of them ridicule it. On the Thai side of the border, I find the migrants/refugees use it mainly to humor all the ex-pats who are unnecessarily hung up on something that doesn't affect them. (Sidenote: it makes me a bit uncomfortable that the foreigners who most strongly cling to the old names are usually British or from Commonwealth countries.) Remember, these are English names anyway (like Kampuchea vs. Cambodia), not Burmese...when they are speaking in Burmese there is no way in hell they suddenly drop "Rangoon" into their flow.

              1. Just got back from Burma yesterday.
                I mainly ate at roadside places so can't really guide you on a lot of the places at random. However there are some places I can recommend.

                Rangoon (Yangon):

                Feel Myanmar food. 124 Pydaungsu Yetha St. This is in the embassy area a short walk from the national museum. It's quite touristy and is in the Lonely Planet (LP). The food choice is good and you can go and pick your dishes. I particularly liked the spicy venison dish.

                19th street grills- various bars with grilled meat/tofu. The grilled items are of variable quality but the kofte style kebabs are probably your best bet or the liver/hearts.

                Inle Lake, Nyang shwe:

                I can't remember the name but there is a place 2 doors down from the New Bright hotel - 53 Phaung Daw seiq Road, that does great grilled food, especially the chicken wings.

                Nyang U, Bagan:

                Bagan-Nyaung U Main Rd, Opposite of Municiple Office, Nyaung U.- This is out of Nyang U towards the temples, abut 2 mins past Wethersppons. One of my favourite meals in Burma. there is set menus with a meat curry, 10 side dishes and rice for 2500 kyat. I had the goat curry and the side dishes included pon yay gi, a marmite like black bean curd produced in Bagan, an acquired taste but I loved it.

                Ngapali Beach:

                Htay Htay's Kitchen -Ngapali road.
                Very touristy as it's in the LP but don't let that put you off they really know how to grill fish and the tiger and king prawns are excellent. Good salads as well.
                They are very welcoming and we were invited to the 1st birthday of the owners daughter for some excellent coconut noodles.

                Friends Restaurant - This is virtually opposite Htays Htays and is not as strong but their chilli crab is excellent. They also do draught beer- though we managed to completely deplete their stock.

                Ngapali Golf Course- This is towards the airport away from Htays Htays. I didn't eat there but their draught beer is the coldest i had in Burma and after a while in Burma you'll realise how difficult it is to get really cold beer out of Rangoon

                1. I was in Myanmar December 2012.

                  - Le Planteur is in a beautiful house but was a total disappointment food wise and the prices are sky high. The house pride lobster pasta didn't make any sense.
                  - Feel Myanmar works as an introduction to the Burmese kitchen but don't expect a great taste experience and don't believe the hype in guide books and forums.
                  - "BBQ street" is really nice for a night of grilled meats, seafood and vegetables, draught beer and people watching. You just pick your meal in a basket and hand it to the waiter. 15 mins later you'll be served the grilled stuff. Choose a crowded place so that you can be sure of a high turnover of the produce on display.

                  - Star Beam is great. The salads are amazing and the Irrawaddy steamed fish was a nice surprise since I didn't expect much from the muddy waters.
                  - I didn't find any of the more local curry places especially good.
                  - Thiripyitsaya resort is not worth a visit for the food, only for the sunset view.

                  - Aye-Myit-Tar Myanmar Cuisine served the best curry meal I had during my three weeks in Myanmar. It's expensive for locals but a bargain for any tourist. The relishes were just perfect.
                  - The night market was a disappointment, just as Mandalay as a whole. If you're doing Yangon, Bagan and Inle, I wouldn't recommend you to go to Mandalay, it doesn't really add anything but a dusty and chaotic city experience.

                  Inle Lake:
                  - Inthar Heritage House is great and well worth a detour on your boat trip, but quite expensive even by tourist standards around the lake.

                  In general, I avoided a lot of street food since I didn't find it even close to the hygiene standards I've experienced in Hanoi and Bangkok.

                  One thing I didn't avoid was the fruits. I think they are often of higher quality in Myanmar than e.g. Thailand since most farmers don't use any fertilisers, they only stick to nature's law which means that you get amazing produce during the right season. I had the best pomelo, custard apple and avocado I've ever had. I was also surprised by the high quality of the tomatoes around Inle Lake.

                  Finally, I was fortunate to do a trek in the remote Chin state and sample the local food, including the mighty mithun cow, which was a beef sensation - both dried and as curry. If you get the chance to eat mithun, don't miss it!