Monday, 11 April 2011

Myanmar Breakfasts

I always find 'Western' breakfasts in Asian hotels a bit depressing.  Actually no, the 'Western' breakfasts in Asian hotels make me want to throw myself off a tall building, or perhaps under the nearest passing bus, they really are that bad. I think it's worst in Muslim countries, where pork is clearly not going to be on the menu - imagine processed chicken sausages and beef bacon (apologies for any dry-heaving that may result from imagining that) and you'll get the idea.

I'm securely planted in the 'when in Rome...' camp, so when we go abroad we make a point of opting for the local option; and in Myanmar there were plenty of exciting local options to be had!

Exhibit 1 - and possibly the most exciting of all: sticky rice with coconut cream and assorted condiments.

There was both black and white sticky rice, identical taste, but the black one looks somewhat more interesting on the plate.  The rice is rather bland, but a vehicle for the tastes that you add to it.  The coconut cream loosens it up, and on top of that I sprinkled a sesame seed mix that was somehow both sweet and salty.  The other additions were all sweet, the one on the rear of the plate being a kind of almondy egg-custard (divine), and the one at the front being caramelised coconut.  Perhaps the most exciting was the orangey coloured one which was toasted coconut with finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, which was delicious (providing you ignored the lurid colour!).

Our first hotel was excellent as the breakfast was extensive - and was a buffet!  It meant that we never needed to have lunch - breakfast saw us through until pre-dinner beer and nibbles at 6pm!

Exhibit 2 - Rice Porridge.  An Asian favourite, about which I've blogged before

I liked the oily peanuts that came as a condiment here, although was less impressed by the sweet pickled vegetables that I also mistakenly threw onto it...  Oh well, you can't win them all!

Exhibit 3 - Fried Rice with extras. 

Fried Rice (or Nasi Goreng here in Brunei) is always a winner for breakfast, especially if it's topped with a freshly fried egg.  The best hotels have an egg-chef manning a small burner at all times so you can have a fresh omelette or fried egg at a minute's notice.  The accompaniments to this fried rice were pandan-wrapped chicken (the leafy thing at the front of the photo!), brasied kailan (a local leafy vegetable) and a vaguely Chinese-y pork dish where the pork was melt-in-the-mouth tender.

Wow, I've just realised that all 3 of those dishes were from the first breakfast that we ate in Yangon (in the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel).  The first breakfast that I ate in Yangon to be embarrassingly specific...  Can you see why it filled me up for the whole day?!

Exhibit 4 - Mohinga, or Burmese Noodle Soup.

This was served in all 3 of the hotels in which we stayed, but I think the best we had was in the Bagan Thande.  The rest of the breakfast wasn't that great, I have to admit, but this was lovely - a mildly spicy chicken soup (sometimes with a hint of coconut), served over noodles, and made exciting by the array of toppings.  I added fresh coriander, dried chilli flakes and a generous squirt of fresh lime juice.

Here's Rob with his Mohinga at the Hotel Amazing in Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake).  This came with deep-fried gourd and sticky rice with chickpeas, as well as condiments of coriander, sliced raw shallots, dried chilli flakes and fresh lime.

Exhibit 5 -The 'Roadhouse'. 

In our third and final hotel, there was no breakfast buffet (boo!) but there was an exciting menu of 5 breakfasts for which you could place your order the previous night.  If you forgot to place your order you'd end up with the 'American Breakfast'...  which seemed like a good incentive to get your act together and decide on an alternative option.  On the first day I ordered the above - representative of the selection of foods you might get at a roadside stall in Myanmar.  It was all nice, but it was all also deep-fried, which lay rather heavily in my stomach for several hours.  Luckily there was also watermelon juice and a plate of fresh fruit, but even that barely lightened the overall effect.  Nice, but too much.

Exhibit 6 - 'Simply Shan'.

The Shan are one of the largest tribes who live in Myanmar, and this was a typically Shan selection of dishes which I ordered another morning.  This proved - again - slightly stodgy and carb-heavy, but I can't say I didn't enjoy it!  The splodge in the centre of the plate was a mix of potato and rice...  the crisp things were like poppadums, and the purple and white things on the right of the picture were crispy rice-cakes.  All could be dipped into ketchup (perhaps not that authentically Shan?!) or chili sauce.

For the other 2 breakfasts there (we stayed 4 nights) I chose the Mohinga option, which I came to realise was by far the nicest.

What a great way to start the day!


Anonymous said...

What a variety of breakfast choices! Certainly makes a change from poached egg on toast, my fave:)

Melanie xoxo

Snowy said...

The breakfasts sound really interesting; very different from my usual porridge!