Let’s promote Myanmar food
is uneven. Foreigners prefer to eat food that has predictable taste and not much variation, as in the case of mohinga and laphet thoke.
In Southeast Asia today, street food has become a magnet for tourists. Given the current state of the global economy, tourists are very careful with their money. They like to spend it on quality goods and food at reasonable prices. Food must be clean, delicious and safe.
There are lots of valuable lessons for Myanmar to learn in order to upgrade its food safety standards. Singapore and Thailand are tops in food safety because of their high standards. Just take a look at the hawker centres in Singapore – they are squeaky clean and brightly lit. Recently, when a local hawker was awarded a Michelin star, it generated big headlines because such awards are usually only given to expensive restaurants.
This week, Michelin awarded one and two stars to 17 Thai street food vendors. None of them got the much-coveted three stars. The world’s most famous food guide has been wise to come to Southeast Asia in search of excellent eateries. Soon, it will be in China. Japan was the first Asian country to get a Michelin rating. In the near future there will be more Southeast Asian restaurants with Michelin stars because of the rise of the middle class and its enthusiastic spending on food.
Singapore has cleverly set aside numerous central locations for restaurants of all leading national cuisines and promotes itself as the world capital of good food. Even the most famous dish in Singapore has a foreign name, Hainan chicken rice. For Thailand, after the Tom Yum Goong economic crisis in 1997, Bangkok had to think of quick ways to improve its devastated economy. After all, the government could not keep on borrowing money. So, it decided to promote Thai food. At the time, the Thai political atmosphere was democratic, so it was easy to promote Thai cuisine internationally.
Myanmar needs to map out long-term action plans to promote its national and ethnic food. Michelin said in a press release that the Thai capital’s culinary scene was as “diverse as it is surprising”. Well, apparently its star-giving staffers have not yet sampled the street food here, which is much more diverse.