Street Eats: where to find Rakhine food in Yangon
IF it’s sour, spicy and salty that you crave, look no further than Rakhine State. Better still, find a good traditional Rakhine restaurant in Yangon and order a mont ti, the jewel in the crown of Myanmar’s far western traditional cuisine. Or you can sample the stuffed fish, papaya salad or mote phat salad. Seafood, chicken, pork and freshwater fish are cooked almost without oil in many Rakhine dishes, a boon for those who like their food healthy.
Many such dishes can be found around U Tun Lin Chan Road, Kamaryut township (Hledan), also known for its training schools and fashion stores.
I recommend Tharli Swa Rakhine traditional food restaurant, opened last January by Kyaukpyu entrepreneurs.
The owners order their fish from home every day, a fact which draws big crowds to the small shop. Food is normally gone by dinner time, so hurry over – good luck finding a table.
The fresh fish is key, as most Rakhine dishes are built around fish paste. They also feature plenty of chilli. The prawns are netted at the seashore early in the rainy season, then smashed after being steeped in salts before being stored in pots. Locally grown limes provide the sourness, with a little help from vinegar. Popular dishes at Thar Li Swa include fisherman’s soup (tout-san), crab salad, crab curry, seafood salad and vegetable salad. Other salads centre on prawn, octopus, squid, and shellfish, and a particularly full tout-san. Water or readymade mont ti soup is heated in a pot. Add lemon grass and wait until it boils. Then put in the seafood and bring the soup back to the boil. Add the fish paste unless it’s already in the mont ti, plus vinegar if you think it might not be sour enough. Sprinkle peppers for aroma, and basil for a more balanced flavour.
Other sought-after dishes include mussel salad, shells salad, seafood salad, and vegetable salad. None of these will break the bank, at K1000 for vegetable salad and K2000 for the other dishes. Rice noodles are prepared right in front of you to show the noodles don’t contain formalin.
– Translation by Khant Lin Oo.
Tharli Swa, a Rakhine traditional food restaurant on U TUn Lin Chan Road, is a hidden gem of Yangon’s local culinary scene.
The team searches for the real name of the Lokanat building on Merchant Street.