The Foodie Traveler on ... Laphet Thoke in Myanmar

Photo by Fitzgerald

Richard Eilers, The Guardian, December 28, 2015

You won’t find a branch of McDonald’s or Burger King in Myanmar but that doesn’t mean that the locals aren’t getting their fast-food fix. The country’s street food may not have the reputation of that of neighbours Thailand and India but noodle stalls abound and sweet treats are found on many a corner.

My favourite is the country’s favourite – fermented tea-leaf salad, laphet thoke. You can find it everywhere, from the north to the south, from the poshest restaurant to the simplest street stall – where it tastes the best, obviously.

Laphet is made from fresh tea leaves which are steamed and then packed into bamboo, buried in the ground and left to ferment for up to a year. Dug up, the leaves are a moist, dark brown sludge. Nice. But on the street, they’re transformed into a delicious snack before your eyes. Fried garlic, beans, nuts, dried shrimps, chilli, tomato, lime and a good lashing of ngapi, a potent fish paste, are all pulled out of little containers in a whirr. It’s a great piece of street theatre and, within 30 seconds, you’re tucking into something that’s a salty, sour, spicy, crunchy moreish treat.

Mandalay serves up some of the country’s best laphet thoke. Daung Lann Gyi (68th Street, between 32nd and 33rd) had by far the best Burmese food we tried in the country. A set lunch with a selection of dishes, including a kicking laphet thoke, was less than £3pp.

I also loved Ah Yee Taung (26th Street, between 64th and 66th), a locals’ spot just a little way out of the centre. You’ll eat well and pay less than £1.

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This article was written by Richard Eilers from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.