Unsurprisingly there have been many many food experiences over the past two and a half weeks. My brother being the ultimate foodie, we have enjoyed a vast variety of eating experiences. I’m hoping to reduce this slightly after he flies home tomorrow and budget slightly better! Having said that though we’ve had plenty of very affordable meals. Here’s a some of memorable and crazy cheap eats from Myanmar…
I have to give a special mention to the following possibly slightly backpacker central restaurant based purely on its name: Weather Spoon’s! As soon as I heard about this place in the Nyang U area of Bagan, I knew we’d have to eat there for the pure novelty of the fact it’s named after the famous cheap pub chain from back home, Wetherspoon’s. The owner had visited the UK a few times and had worked and hung out in a local namesake in Bristol. He’d loved his time there so much he decided to open his own tourist cafe named after the bargain drinking spot. Winton said his favourite pint had been Fosters (easily pleased). He’d actually been in Bristol to learn how to make hot air balloons – sounds a bit random but Bagan offers hot air balloon rides at certain times of year over its temples (the best way to see them but very pricey) and Bristol is home to the industry in Britain.
The restaurant offers a range of western and Myanmar food. We were keen as ever to try out the local dishes so we ordered three salads to try (ginger, tea leaf and papaya), beef curry and chicken curry – all delicious and far healthier, cheaper and more interesting than anything I’ve ever eaten in a Wetherspoon’s back home! It wasn’t the best bargain we’d had but at only 14,000 kyat ($14) including 3 beers you can’t complain.
I wish the best of luck to Winton and his booming business in Bagan. I’m sure his warm nature and tasty menu will continue to be a hit with travellers. The name certainly has nothing to do with disappointing burgers or cheap old man ale!
Before flying back Yangon, we stopped for a “light meal” in Kan Daw Gyi restaurant, again in the Nyang U area, a recommendation from our loyal taxi driver Kyaw (pronounced Chaw). I’d read about this kind of place in the guide book and it suggested we bring a crowd to share the dishes that would be brought to our table. We’re good eaters though so I didn’t pay much attention to this, I wish I had! The very attentive (almost overly) owner Dati presented us with an inconceivable amount of food; curries, salads, soups, veg, pickles and of course rice. The variety was simply incredible!
After a mouthful of each I was stuffed! This awesome culinary experience only cost us 3,500 kyat ($3.50) each. I’m still not quite sure how they can make any profit from this but there you go. They even gave us a traditional dessert to finish off the banquet: a tamarind flavoured sweet in a pot alongside a selection of everyday Myanmar flavours (ginger, tea leaf and peanuts) and a couple of bananas (just in case we were still hungry!). To be honest I wasn’t a massive fan of the tamarind stuff, it was basically like eating a lump of powdery lightly spiced sugar.
I can’t recommend Myanmar food enough. A combination of Thai and Indian flavours brought together in a range of dishes, it’s hard not to find something you like (or everything if you’re like me!). In the local hang outs, the waiters are really accommodating, especially in this place. Dati literally watched us eat and frequently reminded us of what we were eating (a bit weird but actually quite helpful with that much food in front of you!). It was low season so the place was empty apart from the workers who had stopped for their mid-afternoon chill out, but the feast more than made up for the quiet atmosphere.
One last meal time in Myanmar was spent in the Yangon central market eating like the locals on tiny plastic stools surrounded by the hubbub of daily life. This was a real bargain treat. For 5,500 kyat ($5.50) for both of us, we dined on a spread of fresh spring rolls, soup, noodles, tea leaf salad. Oh, and tea (served in a plastic sandwich bag for those who wanted a takeaway!). I love eating like this. The best people watching, the cheapest prices and the yummiest food. Why don’t we have this at home?
It started to rain as we were tucking into our lunch. This seems pretty typical of afternoon weather in SE Asia so far. Nothing a borrowed hostel umbrella couldn’t solve though! It was quite interesting watching the locals react to the downpour; they basically just whack up an umbrella or shelter under the edges of the market and carry on. Rain is no trouble really, so long as it’s warm rain!
So that’s it for my culinary experiences in Burma to date. Vietnam so far has brought yet another monsoon of food based delights, but they will have to wait for future blogging. I need to stop eating such amazing food! More posting soon…