During our 6 week stay in Myanmar’s Mawlamyine, eating proved to be a bit if a challenge. The non touristy nature of this town is what makes it amazing, but also makes it difficult to work out what to eat!
As well as Myanmar food (see our Myanmar dishes guide), there are Asian food restaurants everywhere where you can get Myanmar’s interpretation of Thai and Chinese dishes.
There really isn’t much in the way of western food around. The Strand Hotel had some western fare, but for $12 a pizza you’d be paying well over the odds. Aside from this it’s pretty much Asian food only.
You can get food anywhere and we were never ill from eating street food. If you’re looking for something a little more comfortable, there are a few restaurants we recommend:
Beer Garden 2, Strand Road – Listed in Lonely Planet this is popular with foreigners. Thankfully their Lonely Planet status has not gone to their heads. They do BBQ, Asian food and cold beer (a huge win in a hot country will little refrigeration), are well priced, friendly and speak a little English.
YKKO, Strand Road – This place is quite expensive and upmarket (up to 10USD for a meal for 2). The food is mostly Asian, though I discovered chicken and chips here after 5 straight weeks of Myanmar food and thought I was in heaven. They have air conditioning, a television and English speaking staff. They also have WiFi but it’s too slow to bother with. This is also the only place I’ve seen in Mawlamyine with a service charge.
Corner Restaurant, Cnr Upper Main Road and Kyaik Thoke Phayar St. This place has no English name so we’ve taken to calling it the corner restaurant. This Asian restaurant is our favourite place to eat in Mawlamyine. They have a handwritten English menu that the children there will excitedly run and get when you arrive. The food is very good, well priced and everyone there is so friendly. Though I must admit it’s a little disconcerting to be served beer by a child who can’t be over 10.
Tea Houses, Everywhere – Tea houses are an excellent option for breakfast and lunch. They are everywhere so easy to find. When you sit down they will lay an assortment of food in front of you. You pay for only what you eat. Take pictures of what you like so you can show them to ask for it next time. Standard tea house fare includes spring rolls, samosas, French toast and pudding.
As with everything else, there are rules around eating in Myanmar. All this is quite formal and old fashioned. It’s not likely that anyone would look down on you for failing at the below.
* The oldest person at the table should touch the serving spoon first.
* Eat from the point closest you on the plate and work your way out.
* Don’t touch serving spoons with hand you are eating with.
* A belch from a husband shows a wife she had cooked well.
* It’s perfectly acceptable to share a soup and spoon, however if you do this you must make sure there is no liquid left on the spoon before you put it back in the bowl.
* If someone offers you food, not eating it, or not eating much is considered offensive.
* You can use a kissing noise to call a waiter. This is not rude.
Mawlamyine is not a culinary destination by any stretch of the imagination, but with a little hunting around and some good advice you shouldn’t go hungry!