Mingalaba! Delicious fluffy paratha with delectable bean paste, tea leaf salads that sear and soothe in the same flavorful bite, and chewy Shan rice noodles. While Thailand is rightly proud of its food, our neighbors to the north have their own distinctive cuisine full of dishes rich with veggies and seafood that set it apart.
The ranks of Burmese restaurants serving authentic food have been bolstered by those leaving post-coup Myanmar, some of whom have opened new restaurants in Bangkok. Now that there are more places than ever to eat the food, which are best? Where can we find authentic fare and atmosphere?
To get the best suggestions, we asked a number of people from the diaspora where they liked to eat.
“I have a very high standard when it comes to Burmese restaurants here in Bangkok. Some of them don’t even taste like Burmese food,” said Hnin, who works at a bank and is preparing to study for a master’s degree abroad.
If you’re craving sour, salty, and spicy Burmese cuisine, here’s where they said to find it.
Before we get started, here are all the selections on one handy map:
One of the newer restaurants, Shwe Htee opened last year. It offers Shan-stye dishes such as noodles which come in both sticky and non-sticky varieties (THB85).
Hnin says that Shwe Htee is indeed one of the only restaurants to reach her “very high standard.”
“They sell proper Burmese breakfast,” she said. “I tried all of their noodle dishes, they taste like home. I don’t usually eat breakfast since I moved here because the Burmese breakfasts served here aren’t really my type of breakfast. Now, I order four to five times a month from here.”
The Tofu Nway is recommended by the staff. To this reporter’s Thai palate, the Dry Egg Noodles (THB85) were a personal favorite.
Shwe Htee is located just off Asok Montri Road in the Ocean Tower 2 building on Sukhumvit 21 Soi 3. Hours are 7:30am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday; and 8am-4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday.
“I recommend Kalyana if you’re feeling bougie,” said Eddie, a filmmaker from Mandalay.
Indeed, most of those we talked to said the newly renovated restaurant looks fancy and is probably the priciest. And there was some dispute of its bonafides: Eain, a Myanmar consultant originally from Yangon, said not every dish was authentic and catered to foreign tongues.
“Better to have your Burmese friend take you here and recommend the few good ones,” she said, adding that it was a good place to bring farang friends because of its atmosphere and decor. Her personal picks were the fried fritters and biryani.
Kalyana is located north of Pratunam, right next to Airport Rail Link Ratchaprarob at 110 Ratchararob Road in the Ratchathewi district.
A huge restaurant chain in Myanmar, Feel has one branch in Bangkok offering a variety of authentic Burmese dishes. For members of the Myanmar diaspora as well as Thai locals, this is the place to dine. It’s one of the better-known places, and I had eaten here before.
“They are best known for their curries,” Eain said. “My personal faves are noodles and rice salads. They‘re sold at reasonable prices, are for everyone, and the place is clean.”
Have a look at the menu and find much to choose from. There are numerous curry dishes including chicken, pork, beef, mutton, prawn, and shrimp (THB120-150). Salads (THB60-80) include La Phat Thote (Pickled Tea Leaves) and Nan Gyi Thote (Rice Noodles).
And wash it down with some of the signature coffee (THB50).
Feel is located just south of the Pratunam intersection in the warren of shops on the east side of Ratchadamri Road in a lane called Soi Lumphini 1.
A relatively new eatery on the Bangkok map, Bagan Myay was another personal pick of Hnin.
“Nothing special about the food, as it has similar taste with other Burmese restaurants, but I think this is a great place to have lunch and dinner,” she said. “I like the atmosphere there. Feel like people I saw there are mostly Myanmar expats because places with many migrant workers are so noisy and annoying.”
Come here for breakfast and munch on paratha with bean paste (THB130), it’s savory and great for casual eats.
For lunch, try the braised pork skewers (THB149) served on a steel pot. They also serve several curries that go well with rice.
The restaurant also plays Myanmar music, so it feels like you’ve been transported there.
Bagan Myay is located on Phetchaburi Road just west of Pratu Nam junction and next to Pantip Plaza.
Eddie said this was a great place for Mandalay staple Htet-ta-yar. But there a regional rivalry surfaced: “Yangonites think is the same as the paratha, but it’s not!” he insisted.
What makes htet-ta-yar different from paratha, which is a type of flatbread? Translating to “one-hundred layers,” it is thicker and fluffier but served with the same bean paste that accompanies paratha.
Eain, who is also a Mandalay Food House fan, agreed, saying she preferred its biryanis and salads.
While there are authentic dishes to be had, the resto also serves Chinese-infused dishes like mala salad. It’s also on the pricier end, and its small space is usually crowded.
Mandalay is located inside Soi Phetchaburi 15 quite close to Bagan Myay (which makes it onto this list.).
Honorable Mention – Phra Khanong Market
Photo: Nicky Tanskul / Coconuts
Want to cook your own Burmese dishes? A convenient place to shop for essentials is the Phra Khanong market located just above Sukhumvit Road on the east side of Pridi Banomyong Road, aka Soi Sukhumvit 71. In addition to Burmese groceries, there are some local eateries such as Mo.na, Family Tea Shop, and Laxmi Celebrating if you want to dine somewhere low-key. Prices shot up after food blogger Mark Wiens popularized it several years back.