An early bird Top 10:
Myanmar boasts some of the most elaborate breakfasts you can think of. Many of the ubiquitous tea shops already open at 5 am and draw crowds throughout the day.
When you travel to Myanmar, do not miss out on a couple of the following Breakfasts of the Heavens.
1) Fishy Noodle Soup of the Heavens (Mohinga)
Mohinga is often served with additional goodness in the shape of fried chickpea cakes and scrumptious whole onions.
This divine concoction is considered Myanmar’s national dish by many.
Vermicelli is given a good boil in a delicious soup that consists of fish paste, garlic, onions, lemongrass, banana tree stems, eggs and many other ingredients that really make this quite a project for your average cook.
Perhaps this is why it is generally consumed at the street hawker or at one of Myanmar’s zillion tea shops who have more time to prepare it.
Mohinga used to be eaten only for breakfast but today it’s increasingly being consumed around the clock, and it really is a must-try when you travel here. One serving – that will fill most people up – generally only sets you back between $0.5 – $1, so there really is no excuse not to try it.
2) Deep-fried dough sticks (Ei Kyar Kway)
These golden bread sausages, ei kyar kyay, are consumed everywhere in the country. Admittedly, due to the oily nature of them, they’re perhaps not what an Olympic sprinter would opt for every morning.
This staple of the Burmese breakfast table is about as simple as any food gets. Wheat dough is given a god beating and cut into little sausage-like strips, which are then dumped into the frothing cauldron full of oil.
It only takes very few seconds for the soft dough to turn into crispy pieces of (relatively oily) bread. For many a Westerner, this is perhaps too oily a food to enjoy for breakfast – but the Burmese absolutely love it, and maybe this also has something to with one of these greasy dough sticks will only cost you around 20 American cents.
These little triangular wonders are often filled with onions and potato. In go also other ingredients such as turmeric, curry leaves, masala, chili powder. After all of the latter have been mixed together, samosa skins (a dough) enclose everything and it’s sent straight into the deep fryer for a few minutes.
If you want to try samosa, make sure you get some of the jaggery/tamarind dips they must come with; this adds a crucial dimension to the dish.
Again, some might feel it’s slightly oily for a breakfast eat but it’s simply another cornerstone of the Burmese breakfast world, and you may just find yourself a new favorite.
4) Sweetened Burmese tea (Lar-par-yay)
If there’s one competitor to mohinga as a true cornerstone of the Burmese breakfast setup, it has to be this.
La-par-yay is a mixture of sweet condensed milk and green tea. You can get slightly different versions of it but they’re all really sweet and omnipresent at all sorts of establishments in this country.
It seems like there are two groups of Burmese men: the tea drinkers being the angels, and then the patrons of Myanmar’s Beer Stations who would thus be the rascals. Pick your kind.
5) Rice noodle salad (Moun Dee)
This delicious little salad is quickly made. Rice noodles, onions, bean powder, oil, tempura, coriander and fish balls or chicken are hand-mixed in a bowl – and that’s basically it.
It doesn’t have to more complex than that. Mont Ti hawkers can be found everywhere as it really is an easy micro restaurant to set up.
Often there will be a little bench for two or three people attached to the stand, and here one can usually enjoy their Mont Ti for around 40 cents per portion.
6) Coconut noodles (Ohn Noe Kao Sway)
In my world, these rather spicy noodles that swim in a magnificently creamy coconut sauce are perhaps the holy grail of the Burmese breakfast range.
I once had a friend come to my house because she wanted to cook this for my wife and me, and this is where it probably needs to categorized as another “project breakfast” just like the mohinga. It took a good two hours, I’d say, but the result did indeed make the saliva flow.
This breakfast of champions consists of egg and rice noodles that are served in an inexplicably delicious sauce made of onions, garlic, chicken pea flour, chicken thighs, coconut cream, chili and ginger.
Coconut noodles are a little bit more difficult to find, at least compared to mohinga, but ask at your hotel or your guide, and you’ll find it soon enough.
Again, following the noble example of all the other dishes described here, a full bowl of this goodness will only set you back half a dollar.
7) Shan Noodles (Shan Kao Sway)
This dish is among the most popular dishes here at all. We often take clients out to enjoy this amazing breakfast, which can absolutely also be had at all times of the day. The name is derived from Myanmar’s Shan State where it originates but today it’s ubiquitous across Myanmar.
I would have to say that the best incarnations of this dish do still come from Shan State itself. We know a plethora of tiny family restaurants, in Hsipaw, Shan State, for example, where Shan Noodles are simply just astoundingly mouth-watering – especially when they’re had while you take a break from your trek in the middle of unforgettably green rice paddies.
The noodles used in the Shan kitchen – by now perhaps unsurprisingly – are also made of rice and the other ingredients count tomato, ginger, onions, garlic, chicken, soy and fish sauce and many other wonderful things.
8) Flatbread with beans (Bae Nan Bya)
Super simple. Flour plus water equals dough. Dough on a pan eventually equals bread. Add to this a paste made of beans, spices and oil – and you’ve got your lubricant.
Bar Nan Bya is among the simplest and cheapest eats of the dawn, and it’s really worth checking out.
9) Indian pancakes with dip (Arr Lu Bu Ti)
Usually served on a large metal platter, Bu Ti is a thin flatbread (sometimes slightly oily – but very delicious) served with three kinds of sauce.
The version seen here comes with a sauce that also includes potato, and it’s the best in my eyes. The other sauces have some fantastic Indian tastes to them as India is indeed the country of origin of this breakfast.
Like the coconut noodles, it can be slightly challenging to find Bu Ti, but if you’re scan for tea shops with clearly Indian-looking men, you’ve probably come to the right place.
10) Noodles in tofu cream (doufu nue)
This extraordinarily rich morning delight probably is among the divisive treats among Myanmar breakfasts.
Personally I’m not a big fan of this bowl of noodles that is topped off with a thick, yellow soybean sauce – but you shouldn’t necessarily take my word for it because there is a whole population here in Mandalay, locals as well as expats, who swear that this is, indeed, the very tastiest representative of the incredible expanse of Burmese breakfasts.