Teahouses are a big part of life in Myanmar: they are not only a place for drinking and eating, but also a place where friends, families and business associates meet to set the world to rights. Myanmar tea is typically served hot, milky and sweet, with additional – and sometimes unending – Chinese green tea.
Teahouses usually serve simple dishes through the day, and are a great place to sit down for a snack, meet the locals and take in street life, particularly at breakfast time. The food served depends on the individual teahouse: Myanmar ones usually serve noodles, Muslims ones are known for fresh samosas, and Chinese teahouses provide a range of meaty rice dishes.
Myanmar has large rivers, an extensive coastline and a number of port cities, so seafood and fish are very popular. At coastal towns and resorts such as Mawlamyine, Ngapali and Ngwe Saung, a wide variety of delicious fish and shellfish – caught the same day by local fishermen – are served at restaurants to suit all budgets. Similarly in the villages of Inle Lake, local specialties such as Htamin jin – made of rice, boiled fish, tomato and potato – have fresh ingredients that are sourced entirely locally.
In inland and northern Myanmar, chicken, mutton and fish are the staple foods, although other meats are sometimes served. Shan noodles – rice noodles often served in chicken curries and soups – is one of the most famous inland dishes, and can be found almost anywhere, but is best known as the food of the Shan capital, Taunggyi.
Perhaps the most popular dish in Myanmar is Mohinga (rice noodles in fish soup), which is most often served at breakfast, but is available all day. Other specialties include Kachin fish, steamed in herbs, in northern towns such as Myitkyina.