Now anyone that knows me knows that I take my food seriously. Schedule changes have happened to ensure that I get me some food. There are so many interesting things to say about the food here.
The first day I arrived in the city and got to my apartments, I was pleasantly surprised that below us was a little cafe I could buy food from. So, that’s what I did. And boy was I surprised when I got my “take way” chicken noodle soup. They tied it up in a plastic bag. Yup. That’s a thing here. I’ve seen people with little baggies of coffee, tea, soup, noodles, you name it! It’s a thing here and you just get used to it.
I live next to a wet market where I’ve bought fresh fish, eggs and other vegetables because I try to support the locals. The best time of day to go is first thing in the morning when everything is fresh. It’s unlikely that you will find things chilling on ice so I stick with the fish and I usually season immediately with lime juice. Ya’ know I can’t not make stew fish…
The markets are lively and it’s cool to see a unique array of fruits and some that are familiar to me. I also get plenty of stares because I’m a black woman with kinky, natural hair but you, know, being black abroad is a whole thing.
Restaurants are endless possibilities. Well, maybe not endless, but there’s so many to choose from. You have your regular Asian cuisine varieties such as local Myanmar food which of course includes rices and noodles and dish called mohinga. There’s also Chinese, Thai, Japanese, South Korean, Indian and all of those. I’ve not tried to eat a lot of western foods because I’m enjoying local cuisine, but there are options. KFC, Pizza Hut and most recently Krispy Kremes. I get food selection advice from my colleagues who have been here a good minute and there are still so many places I want to try. I miss Tex-Mex and Mexican food, so I hope to find a decent place.
I like the fact that eating out doesn’t break the bank. The most expensive meal I’ve had cost me about $23USD at the Pan Pacific Hotel and it was a 3-plate meal. I haven’t tried any buffets yet because I’m not ready to shell out $50 on a meal.
The foodcourts in the malls offer a nice little variety as well but they don’t give out samples like the ones in the US do. Although we don’t have Starbucks which I miss, they have Gloria Jeans, Amazon cafe and a few other local ones.
I cook pretty regularly. I make breakfast most mornings and take a packed lunch to school so weekly groceries is a must. Most items are pretty cheap when you convert them from MMK to USD.
Here’s a sample of things I buy:
- Pomegranates $.75 each
- Pumpkin slice $.28
- 10 eggs (because they don’t come in a dozen) $.93
- 1-liter coconut water $1.49
- Deli-cooked white rice $.31 (who ain’ cooking white rice at home no more?! Aww!)
- Salmon steak $4.78
School lunches are decent. Meat, rice/noodles, vegetables and a small side of watermelon for $1.25 can’t be beat and are an option for days I forget to pack a lunch.
Yangon Door2Door is a food delivery app that will even deliver foods from the high end restaurants and even KFC. It’s good for sick days or if you don’t feel like getting out but still want decent food.
Avocados here be trippin’! How you gonna take 2 whole weeks to semi-ripen?? I can’t. I’ve stopped buying them. It’s upsetting to think about.
In the food stores, western items tend to cost a bit more. Like $7 for a small bottle of maple syrup. The pancake mix ain’t even Aunt Jemima to begin with to deserve the luxury of this syrup. American brand cereals are $5-7, but they at least have a few.
No more salad in a bag. Pre-made salads here are only at select food stores and they come in a small container that’s only one portion.
Desserts can be a hit or miss and I’ve had felt like more misses than hits. I don’t know if it’s their lack of proper baking powder (which I haven’t found in stores) or what, but the texture of the cakes I’ve had are kind of dry, spongey. Not all, but many of them. My little cafe downstairs gave me blueberry cake instead of blueberry cheesecake. Well they had it labeled as cheesecake when it was far from it.
Sometimes you get sick. I made it all the way to the break in October before getting sick from food. And it happened two days in a row from two separate food encounters. It’s okay though, I had some cerasee teabags and I bounced back. I don’t let a little vomiting and diarrhea stop me from eating out and exploring foods.
I’ve yet to have a proper burger here and as suggested, if I’m not going to a proper burger place, avoid it on local menus at all cost.
As long as I love to eat, I will keep trying new foods.