Sunday, August 20, 2017

Street eats: Yangon’s best mohinga shops

Anyone who has spent more than a day in Myanmar will surely know about mohinga, the “national dish” consisting of thin noodles in a fish-based broth. A walk around downtown Yangon reveals dozens of shops and stalls specialising in this local delicacy, where even on the most torrid of summer days the tables can be crowded with mohinga-slurping hordes during the breakfast, lunch and dinner rushes, depending on the shop’s hours. In light of all the options, The Myanmar Times sent its Weekend reporters to uncover some of the city’s best mohinga shops. Unless otherwise mentioned, prices are K500 for a bowl, with added items such as gourd fritters or beans costing an additional K100 each. If you really want to splurge, drop an extra K300 for an egg.

Daw Phwa May Mohinga. Photo: Nandar Aung / The Myanmar TimesDaw Phwa May Mohinga. Photo: Nandar Aung / The Myanmar Times

Daw Phwa May Mohinga
27 Thumana Street, Thaketa township
Daw Phwa May is named after the matronly mohinga guru who opened this shop more than 50 years ago. Family-run and located on the ground floor of a two-storey house, the shop is nearly always full from the time it opens at 5am until it closes at 8pm.

The key to deliciousness at Daw Phwa May Mohinga is the use of rich nga myit chin fish paste and the addition of pepper, which adds a spicy kick to the flavour. Even a mohinga addict such as myself can’t handle more than one bowl at a time, although my mother can put away three servings and still have the wherewithal to order two more for takeaway. Nandar Aung

Paday Thar Junction Mohinga. Photo: Myo Satt / The Myanmar TimesPaday Thar Junction Mohinga. Photo: Myo Satt / The Myanmar Times

Paday Thar Junction Mohinga
Thu Mingala and Myittar roads, South Okkalapa township
If you want to eat some of the best mohinga in Yangon, Paday Thar Junction should be on your list. It’s been open at the same spot for more than 30 years, and it’s one of those rare shops that serves authentic Yangon mohinga rather than styles from other regions of the country.

Paday Thar Junction Mohinga uses three types of fish: small freshwater catfish called ngagyee, another type of catfish called ngakhu and a variety of carp known as ngagyin. The result is a strong fishy taste typical of Yangon mohinga. Less typically, the shop goes lighter on the salt than most places, but diners can add their own, as well as lime or fish sauce, according to their own taste. Paday Thar Junction Mohinga is open 3-9pm. Myo Satt

U Yae Khel Street Mohinga
U Yae Khel Street, Insein township
For some people in Yangon, there is no limit to the amount of mohinga they can eat. They’re ready for a bowl anywhere and anytime, even at midnight. There are only a few shops in the city that can accommodate such late-night fixes, one of which is U Yae Khel Street Mohinga, open from 9pm until around 4am or 5am.

The mohinga at U Yae Khel Street is not the best in the city, but it still tastes pretty good after you’ve stumbled out of a club at 3am, especially if you add a bit of lime and fish sauce. Service is a bit slow, but you can speed up the process by hovering near the soup lady and bringing your bowl of mohinga to your table yourself. – Myo Satt

Myaungmya Daw Cho Mohinga. Photo: Nyein Ei Ei Htwe / The Myanmar TimesMyaungmya Daw Cho Mohinga. Photo: Nyein Ei Ei Htwe / The Myanmar Times

Myaungmya Daw Cho Mohinga
51st Street and Anawrahta Road
Myaungmya Daw Cho is a favourite among morning mohinga fans. Even though it’s open from 6am to 9:30am daily, don’t be surprised if you get there at 7am and find that the buthee kyaw (gourd fritters) and fish cakes are already gone. The tables are always full, and late-arriving customers stand outside waiting for seats to open up.

The shop’s founder, Daw Cho, is from Myaungmya in Ayeyarwady Region, and accordingly cooks her mohinga delta-style with four different types of fish, plus sweet onions and soft banana-tree buds. Diners can add coriander leaves, pounded chili, lime and other ingredients as they wish.

From the original shop on Anawrahta Road, Myaungmya Daw Cho Mohinga has expanded to seven branches – including one near the Nay Pyi Taw toll booth at Mile 202 of the Yangon-Mandalay Toll Road – all serving mohinga using the original delta recipe. Myaungmya Daw Cho also produces instant dried mohinga soup packs, coconut soup and dried rice noodles, which are available at supermarkets. – Nyein Ei Ei Htwe

Yaw Pyan Mohinga
Sittaung Avenue, Yuzana Garden City, Dagon Seikkan township
Mohinga is usually served with aromatic ingredients such coriander leaves, but if you want to try a bowl garnished with garlic mustard and snake beans, head to Yaw Pyan Mohinga in Dagon Seikkan township. The owner uses a generous amount of fish in the broth, and the combination of ingredients has made Yaw Pyan famous for the natural sweetness of its mohinga. The shop opens every evening at 4pm. A bowl of plain mohinga costs K400, while adding fried gourd bumps the cost up to K500. – Zon Pann Pwint

Check out our previous street-eats features, mote lin ma yar and bein mont pancakes!