Mahabandoola Road due west of Sule Pagoda Downtown Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
19th Street in Chinatown, Yangon (Rangoon), is known for its long rows of barbecue stalls. Every taxi driver knows where it is, as it’s become a bit of a landmark itself. Here you’ll find cheap skewers ready to be tossed on the fire pit and menus packed with local selections being browsed by tourists and locals alike.
An elaborate night market almost swallows the entrance to 19th Street, especially since there’s no street sign to signify the way. The trick is to follow the crowd that flows into a sidestreet with a slightly larger gap between the market on the footpath. Right away very small barbecue stalls will welcome you. The further you walk north on the street, the larger these stalls become, turning into packed restaurants with plastic chairs on both sides of the street. Staff members stand in the middle, eager to be the first to welcome you.
Most places don’t even offer a menu unless you ask, but instead have stands stacked with skewers of all types of food. Tofu, mutton, pork and chicken sit next to rows of mushrooms, garlic, quail eggs, peppers and kale. If you’re with a group it’s a perfect place to share a plate or two for a build-your-own set dinner, for what can be a very limited amount of money. Most skewers come in three- to five-bite portions, and start around 150 kyat for vegetables and 300 kyat for meats. Draft beer is usually available at 600 kyat a mug and there’s always the local whiskies for sale.
Many places also have plates of cuttlefish and river fish waiting to be selected and tossed on the grill. Yangon sits in between two rivers and its people know how to cook up some tasty fish and deep-fried soft shell crab, too.
If skewers and seafood don’t suit, there are always the menu items. Aside from the standard staple dishes, Japanese bean curd will also be on offer. If you don’t like the menu selection at one place — there’s always next door.
On a side note, despite most foreigner concerns of getting sick in Burma (Myanmar), I have yet to hear of anyone getting sick from eating on this street. The constant daily crowd keep the food turning over fast. Although it must be said, I haven’t eaten everything you see here, such as the giant grasshoppers that a lot of locals like to order.
By Christopher Smith
Last updated on 25th February, 2015.