In Myanmar street food spills onto the streets at night. The sidewalk cannot contain them, and cars and buses are forced to yield to nighttime diners.

I sit on a little plastic stool at a silver table, waiting for my noodles. In the stifling humidity, the cool metal table is mildly refreshing against my bare forearms. Smells of curries and oily meats from the Myanmar street food waft around me. My stomach pangs, crying out for something delicious.

On the sidewalk is an array of food stalls. Dishes of…somethings, and trays of…other somethings. The types of meats are a mystery to me. Even the names of some of the vegetables escape me. Most of it smells mouth-watering, but once in a while something off-putting comes my way.

I’m surrounded by others enjoying a late night dinner on the street

Cars move along only a few meters away from the dining area, yet I hardly notice that I’m seated in the outside traffic lane. In the day this land goes to the cars, at night it becomes valuable real estate for food stalls.

Since the city banned motorbikes and scooters in Yangon, it is much quieter than other southeast Asian cities. It’s entirely possible to have a conversation and not be drowned out by two-wheelers thundering past you.

The woman who sold me my lime smoothy told me the ice was made with purified water and not tap water. I sip slowly, and trust that I won’t get sick. Even so, there must be contamination somewhere, so my defence is to simply will that I won’t get sick. It seems to work well enough most of the time.

Finally my noodles arrive

It is some variation of shan noodles, a popular Myanma dish. I prefer the ones not in a soup. I pick them up with my chopsticks, pulling them through the oil on my plate so as to soak up as much as possible. The oilier, the better. This would basically become my criteria when ordering any food in Myanmar.

As I slurp my noodles, I watch as life goes on around me. Women chatting. Bus drivers yelling. Mice scurrying. Cooks cooking. Singles eating. Young people laughing.

A curious mix of cultures. Young people play on smart phones, yet there are no motorbikes. Cars fill the streets, yet there is no McDonalds. Young women wear jeans, and young men wear a longyi. An occasional Coka Cola, but more often a Myanma brand of soda.

I sit on a little plastic stool at a silver table, finishing my noodles. My tummy is happy, and I feel ready for sleep. My lime smoothy has vanished, and the hectic atmosphere is becoming too much for me. I hand over a few dirty bills and walk down the street back to my hotel.

My dinner eating Myanmar street food is a culturally eye-opening experience. I want more, but I need to sleep now.

Good night, Yangon. ‘Till tomorrow.

myanmar street food street food myanmar vegetables food stall

What are your experiences eating street food somewhere in the world?

Read: A pile of durian on the streets of Yangon

22 Comments

  1. Looks and sounds like a great place to get a meal and people watch. It may have been a year ago, but some experiences can feel like they were yesterday–especially when it comes to truly delicious food! 😉 I was trying to rank my top favorite breakfasts I’ve had, and some of these meals are still extremely vivid in my memory–even one from eleven years ago!

    • It really was an interesting place. Myanmar itself was fascinating for me, and I really want to go back someday. Yes, I remember how delicious Myanmar food was, even from last year. I’ve never thought about my favourite breakfasts though…

      • Oh man, a good breakfast is the best. I am an oatmeal-every-morning kind of girl, so I love when we have a big, delicious, breakfast on the weekends. 🙂 As for Myanmar, I have not researched much about it. But I think now I need to!

        • Pancakes on the weekend! I really enjoyed Myanmar. I was with a research group, so I didn’t get to travel around on my own, so I would like to go back again.

    • Oh oh oh! I remember a yummy breakfast I had. It was in Myanmar, too. It was these yellow beans, sort of like chickpeas, but not. They were fried with oil and onions and some other spices and flavours. It was like a chunky dip that you scooped up with fried dough pieces. It was sooooo good.

  2. I just slurped on some oily pad thai yesterday, and that moment when you are scoffing noodles – hmmmmm it sure is bliss. I always overeat when it comes to noodles because it is one of my favourite things to eat made the Chinese/Malay way. I am guessing your Myanmar noodles must have been along the same lines. The street market above reminds me of the one in KL where we gorged on spicy noodles and entered the well-charted territory of food coma.

    • Pad thai sounds yummy too. I could really go for a plate of oily noodles right about now. There are some nice saucy noodle dishes in Japan that I haven’t had lately. I suppose there are oily noodles everywhere, each a bit different and delicious in their own way. The food in Myanmar really was so good though, especially the oily curries with rice.

    • I wonder if I should put a disclaimer on my posts that are not recent events. Myanmar happened last year. I am very much in Japan right now. I have a lot of catching up to do since a lot of my trips happened before I started my blog…

    • No, I don’t drink. Beer and drinking culture in general is something I’m clueless unaware of. But also not interested in, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I’m sure my travel mates had Myanmar beer, but I don’t know what they had to say about it. Have you had Myanmar beer?

  3. Looks fab!! Nothing like street food in South East Asia!!! In Denmark it’s a hot dog at the hot dog stall 😉 in Mauritius we have more indian types of snack: samosa, roti…

    • Hey, I could get down with a hot dog stall. Japan should have more of them, in my opinion. There more squid/octopus or red bean things here. It’s interesting the types of street food in different countries. I wouldn’t mind a samosa either.

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