Speakeasies and Shan Noodles

One of my favorite things to do with friends when travelling abroad is to explore new and exciting restaurants! I wasn’t sure what the culinary scene would be like in Yangon, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the food we have stumbled upon thus far. Due to Myanmar’s location, the food we have had has been heavily influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisines.

Group Lunch in Yangon
Group Lunch in Yangon

One of the most popular dishes that we have come across has been Shan Sticky Noodles, which are named for the Shan State located on the eastern side of Myanmar. Shan noodles can be served in a broth or as a “salad” and topped with your choice of chicken, pork or tofu. While you can find this dish in numerous restaurants in Yangon, I was most excited to try them at 999 Shan Noodle House, one of the highest rated restaurants in Yangon. 999 Shan Noodle House is located on an unassuming street near City Hall and can be incredibly hard to find if you don’t know exactly where you’re going.

Storefront of 999 Shan Noodle Shop in Yangon
Storefront of 999 Shan Noodle Shop in Yangon

Once we walked in the staff seated our large group immediately and brought over fans and cold towels to alleviate the intense, summer, Yangon heat. We chose a mixture of the broth and salad noodles as well as other Yangon cuisine favorites such as fried tofu and sautéed watercress. Everything was so delicious and we each only spent $2.50 including drinks and appetizers!

Sticky Shan Noodle "Salad" and sauteed watercress.
Sticky Shan Noodle “Salad” and sauteed watercress.

Another restaurant in Yangon that I was eager to try is Yangon’s first and only speakeasy called Blind Tiger. Blind Tiger offers small plates and burgers as well as delicious cocktails which provide expats a lovely recluse when they’re looking for a taste of home. The owner had previously opened a speakeasy in Kabul, Afghanistan offering Mexican food, so I was very curious to see what her Yangon establishment would be like. Now came the hard part: finding the restaurant.

We entered a run-down, dirty building where we were told we would find the restaurant. There were no signs and the building looked completely deserted. However, we soon noticed small tiger paw prints spray-painted on the walls alongside copious amounts of graffiti.

Tiger paw prints leading to the speakeasy
Tiger paw prints leading to the speakeasy

Finally, after following the maze-like path through a seemingly abandoned building we reached a giant portrait of a tiger next to a large wooden door, we knew we found the right place!

Knocking on Blind Tiger's door
Knocking on Blind Tiger’s door

The atmosphere was fun and the food was great! We even ran into numerous company representatives we had the pleasure of meeting throughout the week at the various company visits.

It has been great to explore the streets of Yangon in the evening post-company visits and I feel this has allowed me to truly experience the culture first-hand. As sad as I am that our time in Yangon has come to an end, I’m ready to return to New York and finish my last semester!

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