Burma has no culinary quality cuisine such as that of China, Thailand and India. It's more a peoples' kitchen. However, in the Burmese kitchen things are taken from other cuisines, such as the spices of India, the spicy flavour and the fish of Thailand and the Chinese way of preparing food.The Burmese pay great attention to food - in the eyes of the Burmese, eating is an important social activity.
Early in the morning Burmese mohinga is often eaten. This is a thick soup that is flavoured with lemongrass, garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger, chilies and fish sauce. The soup is eaten with thin rice noodles and topped with fried onions, coriander leaves and dried pepper. Mohinja is also popular as a snack and available in the food stalls along the roadside.
Breakfast at the hotels consists of white bread with eggs (boiled, baked, stirred), jam and banana. Or if you prefer you can go to a teahouse. Once you have taken your place on the stool, the table is laid and filled with goodies. There is a bounty of different kinds of cakes and biscuits, more samosas (spring roll-like flaps) poksi (steamed buns filled with vegetables), fried batter in the shape of a baguette, but with the taste of donuts without currants and slices of white bread without crust with a layer of fat. Furthermore, drink your coffee and tea in a teahouse (a kind of Nescafe). The tea is blended with a large tablespoon of condensed milk. Having milk in their tea is an excellent trait that has remained from the British colonial era. On each table is a thermos of Chinese tea, which is on the house.
The basis of every meal is rice. In addition, you can eat vegetable curries that are milder than those in India. With the vegetables you can add beef, pork, fish, duck or chicken, moreover, all rice dishes can be replaced by noodles (noodles / vermicelli). A typical dish is ohn-no-khaukswe, noodles with chicken curry flavoured with coconut milk. No meal is complete without lephet, a salad that serves as a dessert, this includes tea leaves, sesame seeds and coconut. Fruit is plentiful in Myanmar, enjoy durians, mangoes, papayas, lychees, rambutans, mangoes and coconuts and even strawberries.
Tea is the national drink. Most drink Burmese or Chinese green tea. With most meals tea is served for free. Then there is the strong black tea with sweetened condensed milk. Local soft drinks are sweet except Lemon Spark Ling. Nowadays, sometimes Pepsi and Sprite can be found for sale. Myanmar also has its own beer brands such as Tiger and Myanmar. Burmese people themselves do not drink much alcohol, a Buddhist tradition of abstinence. Local spirits are Mandalay Rum and Dry Gin. Foreign brands are expensive and often only available in luxury hotel bars.
The tap water is not drinkable. Buy bottles of purified drinking water, which can be bought almost everywhere. Please note that the bottles should have their original seal. Ice cubes in your Coke are also taboo, which are indeed made from tap water. Brush your teeth with bottled water too.
Traditional food is available in a Burmese thamin zai, literally rice shop. On tables with various curries pans are displayed and you can designate what it is that you want. Tourists get given a fork and spoon, but most Burmese eat with their right hand. Burmese restaurants close their doors early, usually at 20.00. Outside the restaurants and tea houses there are countless food stalls along the roadside. Depending on the owner you can find Indian, Burmese or Chinese food. Indian food consists of biryani, a rice dish with chicken or lamb kebab and various types. For vegetarians there is thali, rice, dhal (lentil sauce), vegetable curry, chutney and yogurt. You can also eat chapati's thali, a kind of pancake. There are many restaurants serving Chinese and Thai dishes on the menu. Western dishes can be ordered in the luxury hotels, but they are expensive and the quality is not always what you would expect.