Not much is known about Myanmar food places in Singapore, except that Peninsula Plaza shopping mall in town might be the best place to get it; it is the epicentre for all things Burmese.
So we here at HungryGoWhere ploughed through many Burmese eateries – eating way too much thoke (salad) and mohinga (fish broth noodles) – to bring you the five best places at which to have your Burmese cravings satisfied.
|The hpa luda | Photo: Gregory Leow|
Best for introduction to Burmese food
Inle Myanmar is probably the most famous of Burmese eateries and has been featured in the media numerous times with good reason: it is the best place to go to if you want an introduction to Burmese food.
The menu has English explanations of all the food, with a brief overview of what Burmese food is all about. Colourful pictures show you exactly what you get when you order a particular item. Unfortunately, the spice levels have been tamed and the flavours cater to novices by being less overpowering.
It is also the only Burmese eatery of a restaurant level in Singapore so the prices are significantly higher with individual dishes ranging from $6 to $20.
That said, they offer one of the most authentic and robust versions of mohinga ($8), a rice noodle dish in fish broth which is topped with a boiled egg, fishcakes and chickpea fritters. Their robust stock has just the right amount of sour notes. Inle might also be the only place where you can find traditional Burmese desserts.
Their version of the hpa luda ‘rose scented’ dessert ($4) is the most authentic: vanilla ice cream sits on top of a bandung (rose syrup) mixture containing grass jelly, agar agar and sago. The highlight of this closer is an egg pudding embedded into the mixture that is firm, sweet and intensely creamy when bitten into.
Inle Myanmar | Address: #B1-07 (A/B) Peninsula Plaza, 111 North Bridge Road | Tel: 63335438 | Opening hours: Daily 11am-10pm
|Photo: Gregory Leow|
Loi Nine Myanmar Cuisine
Food of the Burmese indigenous minority
This stall, located in a busy coffee shop next to Funan DigitaLife Mall, is the best place to sample food from the Shan people, an ethnic minority indigenous to Myanmar.
The stall serves a variety of noodle and rice sets; a must-try is their warm tofu with rice noodles ($5) – steaming hot and molten sweet-savoury tofu cream is poured over rice noodles and topped with chicken, shallot oil and peanuts and served with pickled sour vegetables. For their specialty, come during the weekends – Shan potato rice ($4) is potatoes mixed with rice, formed into a cake, and then steamed. The savoury rice has an unusual soft texture and is eaten with a killer tomato-based minced meat sauce.
Loi Nine Myanmar Cuisine | Address: 5 Coleman Street, Sidewalk Eating House, Excelsior Shopping Centre | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-11pm
|Mandalay mee shay | Photo: Gregory Leow|
Chinese-infuenced dishes from the last royal capital of Myanmar
You’ll see a lot of Burmese expatriates at this tucked away corner coffee shop that resembles a Burmese teahouse with its low tables and chairs. This place specialises in food hailing from Mandalay, one of the largest cities of upper Myanmar. Mandalay has a heavy Chinese influence due to the large number of immigrants who migrated from Yunnan, China over the years.
There is an extensive menu with unfortunately only a brief English name telling you what each dish is – 'Meat salad' for example – but ask any of the servers and they’ll gladly help you out.
There are two dishes that can be seen on many tables: the Mandalay mee shay (rice noodles cooked in stock, then tossed with fermented black beans and a sticky flour-based sauce, topped off with coriander, chicken or pork, bean sprouts, dried chilli and onion oil, $4.50). It has all the familiar flavours we Southeast Asians know of, but the sticky flour adds a not-often encountered textural experience.
The other is the nga gin ($12), a tilapia fish stuffed with preserved tea leaves (with a taste similar to the Chinese mui choi – pickled cabbage) and other spices, then barbecued until well-charred. The seasoning never overpowers the natural sweetness of the fish, which has a crispy skin and moist flesh.
If you need a third dish to round your meal off, the equally popular fish dish called mala nga ($12) is a good pick – a peanut-y interpretation of China’s mala chilli sauce poured over steamed fish.
Mandalay Style | Address: 5 Coleman Street, #B1-29, Excelsior Shopping Centre | Tel: 91833546 or 84681745 | Opening hours: Daily 1-9pm
|Burmese style economic rice at Clementi central|
| Photo: Gregory Leow
Shwe Kant Kaw Myanmar Cuisine
A stall in Singapore's Little Myanmar
The Burmese community has grown so much that they now have enclaves in various heartlands in Singapore, the biggest being in Clementi central. At Clementi central, there is a Burmese minimart selling essential Burmese food supplies and three coffee shop stalls selling Burmese dishes and rice.
The stall that draws the biggest crowd is Shwe Kant Kaw. Not only does it sell an extensive range of classic Burmese dishes like pork belly with fermented black beans, dried fish fried with dried chilli and their own version of Thai fish cakes, they also offer the more unusual dishes like pig’s head salad and fried catfish. It costs only $5 for a meat dish, two sides and one vegetable dish.
Classic favourites like mohinga (with a touch of coconut added) and tea leaf salad are also available here.
Shwe Kant Kaw Myanmar Cuisine | Address: Blk 325 Clementi Ave 5, Clementi 325 Food House | Opening hours: Daily 11am-9pm
|Burmese style teh tarik | Photo: Gregory Leow|
Ye Yint Café
Burmese teh tarik tops the food
This plain-looking coffee shop – like many of the eateries in Peninsula Plaza – serves Burmese dishes and rice in a Chinese economic rice fashion, but that is not the draw here. When 5pm comes, Burmese expats will stream in with their friends or workmates and they will be drinking Burmese milk tea ($1) which is very similar to Indian teh tarik. Drinking tea in teahouses is a big tradition and the Burmese almost always drink it sweetened and milky. The kicker is that they use more Indian tea leaves than usual resulting in a super thick drink for that guaranteed caffeine buzz.
Ye Yint Café | Address: #03-36 Peninsula Plaza, 111 North Bridge Road | Opening hours: Daily 9.30am-9.30pm
A journalist since 2001, Gregory Leow took a break from his job at Singapore Press Holdings to pursue music. In addition to being a blues and roots guitarist, guitar teacher and guitar repairman, he also writes freelance and has contributed to Mediacorp magazines, Makansutra, IS magazine, CNNGo, Time Out Singapore, Wine and Dine and Straits Times Life!