Street Food Guide: Beer Stations and Barbecue places in Yangon
Discovering a country is of course not only about traveling to different places and doing sightseeing. Mouth-watering meals, new dishes, unknown ingredients and exotic spices are probably as important to understanding a new culture as historical visits and adventurous activities. And Myanmar presents a good opportunity to eat dishes you have never seen before and to bring home culinary experiences that are woven in to the cultural fabric of the country.
Since we are living here, and are big fans of food, we have tried pretty much everything Myanmar’s cuisine has to offer. In this
series of articles, we will share with you our favorite places to eat traditional Burmese food in Yangon from cheap street food to fine dining. This first article will focus on ‘beer stations’ and barbecue, two popular social evening options for dining.
Myanmar people are very sociable and after work it is common for friends to gather for a drink. The most popular meeting spots are beer stations, open-aired restaurants serving cheap, cold draft beer. The restaurants are usually quite simple- tiled or cement floors with metal tables and plastic chairs- and although they rarely have music playing, beer stations are often noisy as groups of friends chat and laugh. The menus offer an assortment of beer snacks, our favorites being deep-fried balls of minced chicken, dried mutton salad and fish crackers, as well as larger dishes such as fried rices, spicy noodles and an assortment of stir fries. Of course, the main attraction here is the beer with one cup costing around 75 cents. Myanmar beer is far and away the most popular beer but you will also find beer stations serving other local beers such as Dagon, Mandalay and ABC (a stout beer) and also Tiger Beer from Singapore. Ordering is simple! Just say ‘one cup’ and a cold glass of beer will be brought to your table.
Beer stations often serve barbecue as well which is a fun, easy dinner option. One of the most comfortable barbecue areas for curious foodie travelers, is 19th Street. Located in China Town, 19th Street is the most famous barbecue in Yangon. The street is packed with vendors selling all kinds of food, right on the street, and preparing fresh dishes in front of you. The crowd speaks for itself: locals gather here to socialize and enjoy the great food, everyone is friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. Although there is rarely a menu, you do not have to speak Burmese to enjoy 19th street. Simply walk to the glass covered case and point to your selection of meats, vegetables and seafood and the chef will throw them on the barbecue. Easy ‘just like home’ choices include pork or chicken satay, baby potatoes, mushrooms, grilled corn and fresh water fish. The prices are very cheap so it is a good chance to try some of the more exotic offerings such as quail eggs, stinky tofu, liver or even intestines!
Whilst the food is great, it is the atmosphere that really adds to the appeal of 19th street in Yangon. Locals and foreigners mingle to enjoy some cold Myanmar draft beer. The street is abuzz with vendors selling snacks, lottery tickets and other random items. And the smells coming off the barbecue are tantalizing.
We highly recommend a visit to a beer station or barbecue for a taste of local food and a dose of local culture. A relaxed atmosphere, cheap prices and the fact that it is easy to order combine to a unique culinary experience that is not intimidating for foreign visitors. In addition to 19th street, some of our favorite beer stations in Yangon are Yunan on Kaba Aye Road near to the Sedona Hotel, Shwe Li on Pyay Road and Shwe Pan Sai on Sayar San Road where they have fabulous dumplings in addition to great barbecue. Ask your guide or travel consultant for more information or directions.
We hope your taste buds are watering! Stay tuned for our next article on the best street stall snacks in Yangon.