Myanmar – once Burma – sits on the cusp of three major regions: India, Southeast Asia, and China. As such, it is a melting pot of ethnic groups, cultural influences, and cuisines. While it has become more famous in recent years for its picturesque temples and sunrise shots, Myanmar has lots to offer – especially for those looking to enjoy a variety of tastes from all those who call the country home.
Anthony Bourdain visited Myanmar to film the series premiere (season 1, episode 1) of Parts Unknown. It was his only on-screen visit, and one that made it into Tom Vitale’s Bourdain biography, In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, too.
When traveling to Myanmar in 2013, Anthony Bourdain found a country whose culinary offerings make full use of the incredible array of local produce and spices available in this hitherto unknown part of the world. Whilst the climate there today is somewhat different, you can still follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Myanmar and discover the same.
Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Myanmar?
The Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon.
Seit Taing Kya Tea Shop
Beginning first in the capital of Yangon, Bourdain meets with local journalist U Thiha Saw to partake in a morning Burmese tradition – the ever-important cup of tea. Served here black, Indian style, with a thick dollop of condensed milk, Tony also enjoys Mohinga, a national dish consisting of a fish-based soup with rice noodles, fried beans, coriander leaves, and lime, together with an assortment of bean-jam filled pastries and freshly baked Tandoori bread.
Feel Myanmar Restaurant
His stomach suitably primed, Tony next visits the Feel Myanmar Restaurant with author and chef Ma Thanegi. Here, they sample a variety of street food dishes including pigs head salad with kafir lime leaves, long bean salad with sesame and fish oil, pennywort leaf salad, and a salad consisting of Indian-style samosas, all served with a bewildering array of condiments including fresh herbs, fish sauce, chilis, and freshly cut lime.
Min Lan Seafood Restaurant
Here at the Min Lan restaurant, Bourdain experiences the Indian influences in Myanmar’s cuisine, with a tomato-based red curry of locally caught river prawns, served with rice. He is also introduced to the custom of making a puckered lip kissing sound for attracting the attention of the waiting staff, not unlike how jeepney passengers in the Philippines signal for their driver to stop.
Taung Htait Pann Pwint Restaurant
At the colorfully named Taung Htait Pann Pwint Restaurant, Bourdain meets up with his old friend and former owner of Les Halles, Philippe Lajaunie. Here the two catch up and swap stories of their experiences in Myanmar so far, enjoying fried chicken heads and necks over a couple of cold beers.
The pair continue into the night, experiencing the hecticness of a Full Moon party, as they chow down on battered quails eggs and deep-fried local birds of an unidentified yet delicious local species.
Morning Star Tea House
As another morning begins in Myanmar, so too does the ritual of tea begin with it. This time, Tony visits the Morning Star Tea House, where alongside the ubiquitous brew, he also orders Lahpet Thoke, a salad of fermented tea leaves, cabbage, tomatoes, and toasted peanuts, seasoned with lime and fish sauce.
Kaung Myat Restaurant
That evening, along the raucous 19th Street, Bourdain meets with local indie rockers Side Effect, and samples grilled tofu and BBQ pork tail in true street food fashion washed down with considerable amounts of ice-cold beer.
Unknown Trackside Vendor
As Tony and Philippe enjoy the 19hr journey on the night express to Bagan, they sample potato samosas and deep-fried fish from a trackside vendor, enjoying the simple eating methodology of such a snack as the train bounces its way north.
Sarabha Restaurant (Bagan)
Upon arrival in Bagan, Bourdain is treated to his last and favorite meal of the trip. A slow-simmered chicken curry, served with a side of sour soup made from roselle leaves, together with an assortment of condiments including freshly ground chilies and pickled beansprouts, in what Bourdain calls the “best restaurant in the country so far” – and a suitable finale to his travels in Myanmar.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Myanmar, or what to eat while there? Let me know in the comments below.