Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oodles of Noodles

My food adventure in Burma began before I even departed the US.  No, I did not go to Burmese Superstar in San Francisco.

I flew Singapore Airlines - my maiden voyage on the airline.  Much to my delight - I was given a MENU of all the food I would be given during my 23 hour journey to Singapore. A MENU.

I am probably one of the few people who loves airplane food.  I think Shrenik might be the only other person.  Anyways - back to the menu - I, of course, immediately took a picture of the menu and sent it to friends who I know would appreciate my excitement.  

My trip began with General Tsao's chicken.

I guess I was so excited that I took a bite of my bread before taking a photo.  Oops.

Burmese cuisine has Thai, Indian and Chinese influences.  Similar to other countries - different regions of Myanmar have different styles of food.  The major styles are Bamar and Shan, as well as "Chin" (not Chinese) but I'm not aware of trying this out.  

Our first meal in the country was at a restaurant serving some kind of Burmese cuisine (really? shocking, right).  While I was starving (unclear why - I was fed at 4 hour increments on my flight), the food was medicore.  I think the best dish was the beef with dried chili.  The chicken with noodle dish I ordered was just okay, with only one unfleshy chicken leg, wasn't a major highlight.  The restaurant was preparing fresh noodle dishes right outside and that is how we were lured in.  It's like a glittery window display - I can't help but stop and look.

Dinner was at Feel Good 3, recommended both by Lonely Planet and To Myanmar With Love, the other book I purchased.  This was traditional Bamar cuisine. I of course, asked where the noodles were, and the waiter looked at me in disgust and said "this is Bamar food - we don't make noodles".  Wait - Asian food without noodles? WHAT IS GOING ON? Note at this point I was probably donning my rice paddy hat.

{A tasty pancake like thing } 

{Very similar to the Subzi my mom makes}

{My favorite dish of the meal - dumplings}

Bamar food seems to be a close cousin to Indian food - minus the spices.  Lots of different curries all eaten with rice.  Some dishes were excellent, others, such as the fish curry, were just okay.  I found this particular fish curry to be too acidic for my tastes.

The next morning we caught an early flight to Bagan - Temple City.  I excitedly boarded the plane expecting some kind of noodle breakfast.  Well, anti-climatically, we were served some kind of croissant sandwich prepared by none other than LSG SKYCHEFS.  I ate mine, probably eyed Ed's, and drank some airplane coffee.

When we arrived at the hotel, the staff greeted us with some kind of juice.  I want to say it was orange and something else.  Very refreshing.  On our bike ride, I saw a lady selling some kind of fancy orange slices.  It was sliced oranges topped with chili powder.  Very good.  I know a few people back home who would love this! (cough...Lavina...).

One of our best meals was at this place called Be Kind To Animals Vegetarian Restaurant.  They had GUACAMOLE served with pappadum, brown sticky rice, and a fried bananas for dessert, amongst other great dishes.  We ate here twice in Bagan.

{Fresh pomelo juice}

Also in Bagan I was introduced to Tamarind flakes.  OMG.  These little candies were SO addicting! They are kind of tart and not overly sweet, and small enough that you can eat a handful without even realizing it.  I bought a bag as souvenirs, don't you worry.

A few more highlights from Bagan:

{Chili condiment}


Off to Mandalay!  We were not served any meals on the flight.  Upon landing, we went to a Modhi noodle street shop.  Literally the place was parked in the courtyard between some homes.  I think this might have been my favorite meal for the entire trip.

{Modhi Noodles}

The noodles were drenched in some kind of curry with chicken.  It was so good we split another 2 orders of the noodles.  I'd like to credit my book To Myanmar With Love for this find - Soe Soe Modhi Noodles.  You could pick between 4-5 kinds of noodles, but I got the wide noodles (my favorite).  Then I just pointed to some kind of curry, unsure of what was what.  Within a few minutes, the waiters brought us steaming, fresh noodles.  It wasn't too spicy - but you could certainly turn the heat up with the condiments at the table.

We were all craving real american style coffee and somehow found a European style cafe - and popped in here for a drink.  We opted to follow a walking tour of Mandalay and somehow found ourselves at an ice cream shop.  The ice cream wasn't anything unique except for Durian flavored ice cream - which I tried just a bite of.  It was just okay.

We went to some fancy government run hotel for drinks to "kill time" and ended up ordering some tapa style appetizers.

There was some wedding going on too! A girl was wearing a pink dress! OOOH!  These were pretty run of the mill apps - all American style.

Another culinary highlight was a place called chappati stand.  Here children (no joke) were making chappatis from scratch, grilling them, and serving them with all kinds of curries - including BRAIN curry (no we did not try this).

I'm pretty sure this is where I got sick, but it was worth it.

The last leg of our trip was at Inle Lake.  I was pretty sick of rice and curries at this point.  We found a restaurant, View Point Inn, which had a sort of fusion Shan/Burmese cuisine.  I think I was getting more sick here because I was generally not hungry and didn't eat much.  The chicken wings were the best dish here.  The chicken was marinated in spices and grilled...but very succulent.

{Red red wine}

Breakfast at our hotel in Inle Lake was amazing.  You could select from 6 different kinds - including Bamar and Shan breakfasts.  I think I prefer Shan cuisine to Bamar cuisine.  I was given pappadum type crisps, which were very good, and something that looked like mounds of rice and dal.

We ate our last meal at Inle Lake at Inle Pancake House.  By pancakes they mean crepes.  I ordered a grilled sandwich with avocado, onions, tomatoes and cheese.  However, I was getting sicker by the moment here and could not finish it all, as delicious as it was.   It's a shame because I really wanted to try the chocolate pancake.

Back in Yangon for our final day, I had zero appetite.  I did have some fresh pineapple juice while the boys drank iced coffees.  Since I hadn't eaten all day (still sick), I went to Parisian Bakery near Sule Paya and bought a pack of bread rolls.  I was so hungry I ate them all in about 5 minutes.  These were like the King's Hawaiian Rolls - light, fluffy, and eggy.  And very fresh.

At this stage, we were Burmese food-ed out.  So, we did what any American would do in an unfamiliar country: we ate pizza.  And it was GOOD.  Nevermind that I thought I was going to vomit for a good 40 minutes after, it was GOOD!  Pizza will forever be my comfort food.  The crust was bready and very soft.  The toppings (mushrooms, cheese, onions, etc) were pretty standard and just fine.

We culminated our trip in Myanmar with drinks at the Strand hotel.  The famous Strand hotel.  Vijay ordered Myanmar's version of a mojito.  Sanjay ordered something fruity.  For my first round, I just had bottled evian, which was delicious.  What?  I was dehydrated and didn't want to be sick in my window seat for the flight home! I caved in the second round and ordered the Yangon Trishaw, which was a mix of some alcohols and some juice.  It was refreshing and I savored every last drop of it.

Well, my stuffing my face adventures did not end here!  I was off to Singapore for a brief jaunt to see Adam, Leena and Laurel.

I love Singapore.  I love that everything is air conditioned, and that if I forgot to pick up a Chanel mademoiselle bag on one block, I could easily do it on the next block (hypothetically speaking).  I think my new goal in life is to fly first class on Singapore Airlines and then go on a shopping spree with my sister.  In addition to my other goal in life of flying to Botswana for a safari on Emirates on the A380 in first class.

And, we've all heard of what fabulous food Singapore has.  For my only meal while in the city, Adam took me to eat Chicken Rice.  Chicken rice is basically boiled chicken (you can also get it BBQ style) served with rice - but the rice has been cooked with the leftover chicken fat.  It's similar to say, cooking eggs in left over bacon grease.  And equally delicious.  I think I'll try this at Thanksgiving this year!

I also had an iced copi-c at a coffee shop in one of the many malls.  It was basically coffee with condensed milk.  God bless condensed milk.

And of course, when in Singapore...go to the elite Raffles hotel and have a Singapore Sling.  Never mind the fact that it is 25 Singaporean Dollars.  The drink was a good night cap for my flight home.  Sweet, not too strong, and enjoyed with great company.

I'm not sure if I just wanted to stuff my face with pizza or what, but most of the food on my flight home was generally uninteresting.  Not even interesting enough to take an iPhone picture of.  However as soon as I landed (and after uploading facebook photos), I ordered a pepperoni pizza from Iggy's, along with a diet coke.  As much as I love noodles and jet-setting around the world, sometimes, nothing beats a pepperoni pizza and catching up on DVR'ed tv! 

1 comment :

Lavina said...

Wow, i got a travel and food blog in one. That veggie restaurant sounds good and yes pizza is def my comfort food too while travelling (i was so happy to find pizza hut my last day in morocco hahaha). Singapore air is my fav flight food too :)I wonder what the first class food is like hahah!