Eating Well: Myanmar 3.18.17

 

Tea leaf salad is a traditional food from Myanmar. The salad usually includes a crunchy bean or nut, tomatoes, a type of lettuce or other green vegetable and a dressing made from pickled tea leaves. I liked the salad because of the mix of flavors and textures and the innovative-to-me dressing made with tea leaves. Flavors in the salad include sweet from the tomatoes, sour from the dressing, and salty from the nuts. The crunch of nuts, roasted beans, and sesame seeds contrasted well with the softer vegetables. I liked eating familiar foods that were mixed in a way that was new to me. I think this salad will become one of my go-to options for summer BBQs.

 

This post is three weeks of meals eaten in all parts of Myanmar.

McDonald’s is my preferred airport food option. I ate this meal in Bangkok as I waited for the flight to Mandalay.
Eggs and rice were a frequent meal choice in Myanmar. I drank juice and ate the top plate of food in the Mandalay airport. The lower plate was a meal at a fancier cafe in Yangon. A light soup broth is a common side dish.
At the UBein bridge sunset I ordered this salad by pointing at someone else’s plate. My guess is the meal was a papaya and cucumber salad with peanuts and a lime based dressing. Roadside tea stands are common in Mandalay and serve the same purpose as coffee shops in the U.S.
Free drinks are served at the Ayarwaddy River View Hotel each night. I invited Nick and Linette to join me here for the sunset view of the city and the river.
Nick celebrated his birthday in Myanmar! After our sunset cocktails we traveled via taxi to Bistro 82nd, a fancy western restaurant and enjoyed wine and an excellent meal.
On our trek we stopped every few hours for snacks and meals. Our morning began with coffee and cookies. Both coffee and tea in Myanmar are served with a large amount of sugar. Our second snack break of the day included a beautiful countryside view. During the snack break we ate various cold salads with oil-based dressings.
Our lunch on the first day of trekking was prepared by a local village family and served in their home. Most of the meal was vegetarian friendly.
We ate dinner at our host family’s home. The following day we finished our trek with a meal of Shan Noodles, a well known local dish, at a restaurant.
A common street food snack in Myanmar (and Thailand too) is rice flour, water, and green onions mixed together and fried. The shape reminded me of the Danish food aebleskivers. I ate a meal of dumplings and fruit juice at a restaurant in Hsipaw and enjoyed watching people pass by on the main rode.
The preparation of tea leaf salad varies across the country.  I ordered this tea leaf salad at the hotel in Pyin Oo Lwin and it was the best I tasted. Other meals in that city included an oily noodle soup curry and a tofu vegetable stir fry.
At the vineyard in Inle Lake, Red Mountain Estates, I sat down to eat solo. After spotting my cheese plate, these two great travelers from Scandinavia joined me for a few hours of wine and conversation. Cheese is a rarity in Myanmar and Asia and they missed this food as much as I had. Later in the meal our other tablemates passed us their chocolate cake dessert. My main meal was rice with vegetables and I ordered a pancake with chocolate syrup for dessert.
After our daylong boat tour of Inle Lake, our group went to lunch together. We ate stirred vegetables and a pancake with chocolate shavings. With freshly blended fruit juices we toasted to living our dreams and to continued adventuring. We started our day with a banana and bread during sunrise and tasted a fried dough snack at a local market.

 

Meals in Bagan included another tea leaf salad. This salad arrived already mixed. A friend tipped me off to a pizza restaurant with a traditional wood fire outdoor oven. This meal tasted like a gourmet pizza served in Minneapolis. One evening I joined a sunset boat cruise. Included in the boat experience were drinks and breaded, fried snacks. The snacks reminded me of the fried pekora I ate in India.
I booked a bus ticket from Ngapali beach to Yangon through my hotel. The hotel manager told me their IT contractor, Thu Ya, would also be traveling on the same bus. Thu Ya not only watched out for me and explained the various announcements, he also invited me to a delicious lunch at a traditional Myanmar buffet. This style of restaurant is very popular. At the buffet, the servers bring an assortment of food and the price is based on the amount of food consumed. The food is prepared in the morning so it is best to eat at these restaurants during the lunch hour when the food is more fresh. Without the company of a native speaker to understand the process and place our order, I would not have had the opportunity to experience this style of restaurant.
With a longer than planed delay at the Bagan airport, I ate the only food available – pastries. Other meals in Ngapali included rice and noodles with vegetables.
Via a social media connection with our mutual friend Adam, I connected with Maddie who is a U.S. State Department employee at the mission in Yangon. Maddie enthusiastically welcomed me into her home on a Friday night and prepared a home-cooked meal. This meal with a protein, vegetable, starch and dessert was identical to what I would eat at home and it was familiar and tasty. I enjoyed learning from Maddie about her work, the foreign service, and Myanmar.
The hostel in Yangon provided daily breakfast. Breakfasts were local foods usually made with a rice. I tried rice with coconut shavings, rice mixed with a sweet syrup then molded into triangles, rice flour wrapped around bean paste, and samosas with a non-rice filling.
Including breakfast with the cost of the bed was typical in Myanmar. Most hostels offered a western style breakfast. Eggs and toast were the norm. Watermelon is one crop grown in this heavily agricultural country and its prevalence was obvious every day at breakfast.
I ate my last meal in Myanmar at LinkAge restaurant in Yangon. This restaurant is a social enterprise that provides younger people from Myanmar with experience in the hospitality environment. Many young people who complete their program find work in the top hotels of the city. I ate a tea leaf salad, eggplant salad, and for dessert on this 80 degree day I enjoyed ice cream.

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