Eating a Winning Bowl of Mohinga in a Yangon Parking Lot

By Mark Wiens 37 Comments
Yangon street food
Fantastic Yangon street food

Sometimes you have no plans to eat… but it just feels right.

You’re walking along, with little intention to eat anything, but then you see a stall that calls your name.

You might not even be sure why, but something having to do with the atmosphere, the fresh look of the food, the aroma that hits your nostrils – all your senses are aroused, and you have not choice but grab a seat and eat – immediately.

That’s exactly what happened one day when I was walking around Yangon; I wasn’t even very hungry at the time.

Yangon traffic
The evening traffic rush in Yangon

Evening traffic rush in Yangon

It was about 6 pm.

The population of the entire city of Yangon seemed to be out and about, scurrying from place to place.

People rushing along the side of the streets, dodging buses and oncoming vehicles, scurrying up staircases, and some relaxing on the roadside downing Yangon street food and chatting with friends.

The street scene in Yangon couldn’t be more lively and enticing.

Yangon street food
Deep fried chicken stall in Yangon

As I was navigating my way through flying buses, crowds of people pouring out of offices, makeshift tea stalls, and seas of street food vendors, there, squished in-between two parked cars, was a stall I saw, and I immediately had the feeling that I needed to eat there.

It was just one of those times where the food felt right, before I even sat down.

Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး)
I saw the fresh food, and couldn’t pass it by

When I first sat down, the owners of the street restaurant were just setting up, and they had set up the food, and only a few plastic tables in-between two parked cars.

I saw the food, and I knew it was fresh.

Street food in Myanmar
The bubbling fresh pot of mohinga broth

Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး) – National Dish

They were serving a dish known as mohinga, widely considered to be one of the most popular, and the national dish of Myanmar cuisine.

It’s a combination of rice noodles or vermicelli, submerged in a curry gravy sauce with a base of fish combined with many flavorsome ingredients like ginger, garlic, onions, lemongrass, and a handful of dried spices as well.

Flavor-wise, to me, mohinga tastes exactly like a dish that falls directly in-between something you would find in Thailand and something you would find in India – and that’s of course quite fitting, considering Myanmar is geographically sandwiched between Thailand and India.

A bowl of mohinga is perhaps most commonly associated with a breakfast in Myanmar, but nowadays it’s available throughout the day, and this particular Yangon street food stall, sprouted up in the evening.

Burmese street food
Rice vermicelli or wider rice noodles

I popped a squat on one of the mini plastic tables, messily scattered somewhere in the backed parking lot of Yangon City Hall, with a view of Sule Pagoda.

There was really only one thing to order: mohinga.

But you could order either the thin rice vermicelli noodles, or the thicker wider rice noodles. I didn’t know which one to order at the time, so by default I got the wider rice noodles – OK for me.

မုန့်ဟင်းခါး
Ladling out scoops of broth (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး)

This entire street food pop-up stall was extremely rushed, and the servers and food owners were literally running around the chaotic parking lot, serving customers in a fury.

The street food atmosphere was beautiful, it’s moments like this that I absolutely love when I travel and eat.

They wasted no time with my order, dishing out my noodles, and then drowning them in the giant cauldron of broth.

Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး)
Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး), Burmese street food favorite

Another thing I could have ordered with my bowl was an egg, boiled in the same curry soup.

However, at the time of ordering, and myself not speaking any Burmese, I just ordered mohinga, and due to the extremely busy environment, I didn’t get a chance to order an egg again. But that’s alright.

Sometimes I have eaten bowls of mohinga with crispy chickpea fritters crunched on top, but this bowl was served with a Chinese donut, chopped up on top; Both are great additional complements to a bowl.

Eating mohinga in Myanmar
Seasoning with dry roasted chili flakes

Condiments

Like with any soup, it’s always best to taste test it first without any extra seasoning (granted of course, it’s you first time to eat at the particular stall).

And after a first taste, you can then start to season appropriately.

One condiment I can’t live without, no matter what cuisine we’re talking about, is chili, in any way, shape, or form.

Mohinga is usually served with dried chili flakes, and it gives the broth a nice kick of heat.

Burmese street food in Yangon
Cilantro and sliced long beans to garnish

It’s also common to garnish mohinga with a few shavings of cilantro. A sprinkle of cilantro gave my whole bowl a lovely freshness.

Bowl of mohinga in Yangon
Halfway through my tasty bowl of mohinga

After seasoning, I got busy devouring my bowl of Yangon street food.

It was marvelous.

The noodles were soft and slurpy, and the broth, more like a curry gravy sauce, that was slightly fishy, but with a fantastic undertone of lemongrass and onions, and nice chunks of mild ginger.

I’m not sure exactly what they used to thicken the curry gravy, but to me it sort of had a starchy, almost potato-y component to it. But I know they also often use chickpea flour or gram flour in the recipes.

Anyway, it was extremely tasty, and occasional bites of the crispy Chinese donut also added a nice touch.

Street food in Yangon
Street food stalls surrounding the mohinga stall

While I was eating, the food stall kept expanding and expanding, more and more tables being set up as cars left the parking lot (people were finishing work and leaving).

Soon, other street food snack carts appeared as well, sort of forming a little mohinga oasis in the middle.

မုန့်ဟင်းခါး
Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး) in Yangon, Myanmar

Watch the video of this delicious snack…

(If you can’t see it watch it here: http://youtu.be/I8vE8mIIdPw)

Conclusion

Mohinga (မုန့်ဟင်းခါး) is one of the most popular Yangon street food dishes, and you’ll find it scattered throughout the entire city and throughout Myanmar.

It’s a really tasty dish of rice noodles in a fish based soup curry broth, and often includes a number of different toppings and seasonings. Mohinga makes a wonderful breakfast, snack, or light meal.

If you happen to be near Sule Pagoda in the evening at about 6 pm, and are craving a bowl of mohinga, check out this pop-up stall for a local winning bowl.

How to get there: This Yangon mohinga parking lot food stall opens up about 100 meters north of Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon, just outside Yangon City Hall. I got there right about 6 pm, and I think they probably keep selling until they sell out. If you go, I would say, be there about 5:30 or 6 pm, and get it while it’s fresh. I’m not totally sure if they are there everyday, but if you’re in the area, you can stop by and check.
Open hours: I was there right about 6 pm and they were just setting up fully (not sure if they are open everyday)
Price: 500 Kyats ($0.50) per bowl (probably a bit more with an egg)

Do you love mohinga?

37 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Vishal

    1 year ago

    Awesome blog post. Thanks for sharing..😊😊

  • Claus Christensen

    6 years ago

    You are missing an important ingridiens in your recipe Mohinga – slices of banana stem

    • Aung Shein

      6 years ago

      You are absolutely right. It is one of the best ingredients in the broth.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Claus.

  • Jay

    6 years ago

    Just got back from Yangon and didn’t get to try monhinga, but I’ll be back for sure. It’s only a short hop from Hong Kong!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Jay, glad you took a trip to Yangon – no problem, it will be there when you go back next time!

  • Mike Bencik

    6 years ago

    I am sure you also got to enjoy this favorite of Myanmar, Betel Nuts.
    http://michaelbencik.org/2013/05/18/betel-nut-love/

  • Mike Bencik

    6 years ago

    Loved the blog post, and the video. It was great and made me hungry. I loved the action behind you, with everyone just flying to set up the tables. Makes me miss Myanmar so much.

  • Mike frank

    6 years ago

    Mark-i am now up from bangkok in chiangmai heading to mae sai border arriving 2 pm.Two quick questions,one food one not.Can i get this soup up in burmese border town of tachilik?Second question is i am trying to send a friend a postcard from myanmar.Is there a post office and postcards to be bought in tachilik?Nobody i have met who has done countless border visa renewal runs can tell me if that burmese town has a postoffice,and if it is located in the one day restricted zone.love it if i can find out by 9am bus tommorrow.Loved the koi sow and chiang mai sausage here.Also renewed my friendship with pad seow.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Mike, sorry about that late response, I’ve been so backed up lately. Hope you had a good run to Tachilik. Honestly I’ve never been there myself, so I have no experience. But You can find mohinga in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok quite frequently, with the big population of Burmese in both cities. Hope you’re doing well.

  • Susan

    6 years ago

    I just did not eat enough mohinga when I was in Myanmar…something to go back for!! Loved it.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Susan, it’s such a great dish, definitely world going to Myanmar to eat again.

  • T

    6 years ago

    Correction to above, I mean it’s safer not to put raw egg in soup. Boil separately 🙂

  • T

    6 years ago

    What makes mon hin ga thicken is roasted rice flour. Here is my mon hin ga recipe if you want to try :),
    1. Boil one fish (usually cat fish, but I used tuna or salmon abroad) with tumeric, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, most importantly lemon grass, without it, you never get the flavour.
    2. Then de bone fish, keep the broth.
    3. Heat oil (about 3 table spoon), add shredded onion (1 or 2), shredded garlic, when golden brown, add 1 tea spoon of paprika, then the fish meat you got from above de boned fish), fry until juices run out a bit, but don’t let it dry completely.
    4. Add the fish broth above and let it boil, in a separate bowl, mix roasted rice flour with cold water (if add directly, it forms lumps), then add the mixture into boiling broth.
    5. Add peeled shallots, diced banana stem (unfortunately we don’t get it while we are not in myanmar, so, I had to skip it)
    6. Wait to boil, add more taste with more fish sauce, some put MSG in there, but I don’t, fish gave enough sweetness. and finally add lots of pepper ( burmese pepper is fine, black pepper powder).
    7. Soup finished, I boil egg separately because it’s safer to put raw egg in same soup for health reasons.
    8. You can buy rice vermicelli fresh if you are in myanmar, but if not, boil the dried rice vermicelli which you can buy in Chinese or Thai shops around the world.
    9. To prepare, put rice vermicelli in bowl, pour the soup on, garnish with boiled egg, coriander leave, roasted chilli flakes, more fish sauce if you like it salty, lemon juice only a bit if you like it sour.
    10. Here is the recipe for the fried pea tempura you saw. It is not chick pea. It’s yellow pea.
    – soak the yellow pea with water over night.
    – in the morning, prepare the batter, mix rice flour and glutinous rice flour into 3:1 ratio, add salt and some sugar if you like and make a paste with water, if you like it colourful, put a bit of tumeric in
    – drain the peas and add the peas into above paste and mix.
    – heat the oil in pan (a lot of them)
    – when oil is heated well, pour in the mixture with lader one after another but careful not to be on top of each other.
    – fry till golden.
    – add it to your mon hin ga and enjoy!
    I like it when people around the world enjoy our national dish. I am cooking it tomorrow too. There are different version of mon hin ga depending on parts of Burma. But this is the version I like most 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi T, this is amazing, thank you very much for taking the time to share your recipes. When I have time, I will for sure try it out, thank you again, sounds delicious.

  • Danny

    6 years ago

    Hi Mark

    I love your Video’s and The pictures look great in your posts. I have currently started my own blog and I am writing a book so could you please have a look at my blog and let me know how I could improve it. I have travelled to the Philippines a few times and I would like to go out there again one day. Please email me when you get the chance

    Thank you in advance for all your help.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Danny, great to hear from you, and so cool that you’ve started a blog. Overall, so far it looks good. I think what you need to focus on is creating more content. Keep it up.

      • Nywoman

        6 years ago

        Love your pictures, what kind of a camera do you use?

        I want some Mohinga right now!!!! This article brings back my wonderful memories of traveling through Myanmar and Asia.

        This time I am off to Eastern Europe do you have any tips where to eat in Belgrade, Romania and Bulgaria.

        Fanny

        • Mark Wiens

          6 years ago

          Thank you Fanny, I use a Canon 70d. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Eastern Europe, so no suggestions yet. Hope you have a great trip!

  • Nash

    6 years ago

    Mohinga is excellent, makes me want to go to Myanmar again.
    What no video, thats the best part to watch you eat and your great expressions.

    Cheers

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Nash, great to hear you love mohinga too. Video is up now!

  • Neila

    6 years ago

    I miss my home-town and street food after reading your post. Thank you, Mark, for sharing. When will you upload Burma video?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Neila, thank you very much. You’re from Yangon? Video of this mohinga is up now.

  • norman mizuno

    6 years ago

    it all looks so good……i hope i can try some soon

  • Ashley @ Ashley Wanders

    6 years ago

    Looks delicious! Can’t wait to read more about what you ate in Myanmar!

  • Gourmet-Blog (Dirk)

    6 years ago

    Looks awesome, i def. have to Visit this Place. Great Pictures as always Marc.
    Hope to see you in November in BKK 🙂
    Greets Dirk

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Dirk, thank you. Hope you can visit Myanmar soon. Yes, will be great to see you in BKK.