January 4, 2015

More Myanmar: Yangon

As promised, I wanted to present more information about the food in Myanmar. The biggest cities we visited were also the first: the capitol Yangon (previously Rangoon) in the south and Mandalay in the north. Yangon is beautiful and bustling, but the traffic is brutal.  A trip to or from the airport at rush hour can take over an hour...or more. Beware traveling by taxi in Yangon during busy times or you will rack up a hefty bill. Walking around the city, beware the sidewalks so you don't trip on one of the upturned stones or fall into a huge hole or open sewer. It's hard to pay attention to the ground because there is so much going on all around you - golden pagodas everywhere, people toting bird cages, building, painting and updating old buildings. It is a wonderful city with fantastic huge markets you can get lost in for hours.

The food here was excellent with lots of choices. If you are seeking a truly local experience, you can try one of the typical restaurants full of plastic chairs and tables on the side of the road. Otherwise, there are a lot of restaurants ranging in price from typical Myanmar ($1-4 for a dish) to more Western ($7-15 for a dish). We found a very cute place by our hotel (Hotel East which we highly recommend) called Suzuki which offered a huge variety of fantastic dishes including noodles, fried rice, curry and delicious round-shaped, fluffy tofu. There's egg in absolutely everything...I was in heaven.

I was so happy that this country is full of excellent vegetarian dishes, though there was more meat on the menu than I was expecting. The markets are packed full of so many different types of veggies and they play a major role even in dishes that contain meat. Vegetarian options often add tofu and the Myanmar specialty is a chickpea tofu, very firm with turmeric added to make it a deep yellow. You can order it fried, as an appetizer and it comes with an amazing garlic sauce - highly recommended.

Finally, we discovered Myanmar Beer in Yangon which we drank the entire time. This lager is light and refreshing for the hot weather and comes in large bottles perfect for sharing with friends. Drinking beer is sort of a new practice in Myanmar - tea houses are much more common and women don't seem to drink much alcohol at all in this culture. However, we found some vibrant places to share a Myanmar beer or two though nightlife in this country doesn't exist (yet) and you'll be calling some very early evenings if you travel here which is fine as there is so much to do each day!  

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