Food file: Yangon

Tasty ... a basket of fish at a Yangon market.
Tasty ... a basket of fish at a Yangon market. Photo: Getty Images

Ute Junker uncovers some unexpected treats in Burma's capital.

Favourite flavours

Burma's cuisine combines influences from south-east Asia, China and India. Snacks range from favourites such as samosas to more unusual offerings such as bat skewers but meals tend to be spicy and flavoursome. We particularly love mohinga - fish soup fragrant with garlic, ginger and lemongrass.

Flavour on a stick.
Flavour on a stick. Photo: Ute Junker

The local drop

Burma's Red Mountain Estate wines - particularly the sauvignon blanc - stand head and shoulders above their Asian counterparts.

Top tables

Walking Yangon's colonial streets can feel a bit like travelling back in time but for a real blast from the past, dine at the Strand Grill (92 Strand Road, +95 1 243 377, ghmluxuryhotels.com/Strand.htm). This is old-school grand dining, complete with magnificent setting - love the vaulted ceiling - and a menu that revels in luxury ingredients such as a "doughnut" of foie gras and truffle, coated in crumbs and deep fried.

It is a more relaxed dining experience at Pandomar (78C Inya Road, 95 1 536 485), in a colonial house with beautiful friezes.

There's plenty of choice on the Burmese and Thai menu and, in summer, dinner in the lantern-lit garden is a treat.

One of the best dining options downtown is Monsoon (85-87 Thinbyu Road, +95 1 295 224, monsoonmyanmar.com), where an airy dining room offers soothing respite from dusty streets with its cane chairs and leafy plants. The menu ranges across south-east Asia.

Try a typical Burmese dish such as tea-leaf salad or yellow tofu salad with tamarind sauce.

Budget bite

For a truly authentic experience, go back to basics at Aung Thuka (80 37th Street, lower block). There's no menu and no tablecloths. What you will find are delicious Burmese curries - all served with sauce, soup and vegies - for a couple of dollars.

Special night

The most surprising thing about Le Planteur (22 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, +95 1 541 997, leplanteur.net) is that it's in Yangon. Le Planteur combines big-city style - we love pre-dinner drinks in the sexy Lounge - and small-town space, with the sprawling, lantern-lit garden a magical setting.

It also has a superb wine cellar.

The biggest surprise of all is the superb food of its young chef, Felix Episser, who abandoned his Michelin-starred restaurant in Switzerland to make the move to Yangon.

Locals love

Catching up with friends at a traditional tea house is a Burmese tradition.

There are plenty around town to choose from - Morning Star (65 Saya San Road) bustles day and night.

Don't leave without trying

There's no better place to sample Yangon's street food than at Barbecue Street in Chinatown (between Chinatown's Mahabandoola and Anawrahta streets). And it's not just for meat lovers: mushrooms, broccoli and tofu are all on offer and are delicious and dirt cheap.

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