The street market scene in Myanmar’s capital Yangon (previously known as Rangoon) positively fizzes with energy and colour. However long you plan to stay in this exciting capital, it is essential you make time to explore this aspect of street culture.
Whether just strolling through and soaking up all the pavement pizazz of one of Asia’s most vibrant cities or delving deeper into the elements that make up the country’s cuisine – you are in for a treat.
The huge variety of fresh ingredients available in the market make up the country’s exciting and, for many visitors, largely undiscovered gastronomy. Savoury flavours, sweet fruits and endless combinations of spices allow for a huge diversity of regional dishes, all of which can be tried and tested on the streets of Yangon.
The country’s cuisine, created from a multitude of influences, tends to be savoury and sour. A host of different fruits and vegetables enlivened with innumerable herbs and spices result in a customised mix of accompaniments for each meal. Piping hot soups, stir-fries with cooked vegetables, feathery white rice and fresh salads combine to give an array of choices to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
The chatter at street level is as ferocious as the hottest of curries. My first suggestion to anyone new to Burmese food, is to try Shan-style rice, tofu or noodles, nangi thoke pasta, meat-based curries, mohinga noodle soup and the local sweet snacks. Ideally, all swilled down with cups of tea fusion.
Although most township areas have their own markets, some of Yangon’s most colourful fresh produce marketplaces include (i) the fabulous Yangon Circular Railway markets, at Da Nyin Gone Station; (ii) the ever vital and busy Myaynigone Market, with close to hand Shan Kone Street beer stalls; (iii) the sprawling Downtown street stalls in and around Theigyio Market; and (iv) the sweet-smelling coconut and banana market at Yindaing Kanner Road.
You will without doubt appreciate the way local cooks fuse the natural raw ingredients – so prevalent in these street markets – with their personal blend of Burmese, Thai, Indian, Mon and Chinese influences. It is very different to its neighbouring countries, offering predominantly spicy, salty, bitter and sour flavours.