My favourite food in Taunggyi

I am both sentimental and gluttonous, and the sentimental urge to align parallels often plays a role in my choice of food. In the almost two months I’ve been here in the capital city of Myanmar’s Shan State, I’ve done a lot of eating, and because I’m living for an extended period of time in a foreign land, I cannot help but like stuff that establishes nostalgia and order.

Here’s the stuff I’ve eaten and loved so far:

 

Tohpu Nway: sticky noodles in a thick soup (pudding really) of boiled chickpea flour, topped with  some chilies, sesame seeds, peanuts, coriander, and sweet syrup. This is a uniquely Shan delicacy, found only in Shan State (one way of dispelling homesickness is enjoying the best foreign thing in your new land). I’ve wanted to try this even before I arrived, and when I did I could only tremble in delight. Rich but light and tasty, this stuff is by far my favourite dish here.

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Ohn no khao swe: noodles in a broth of coconut or evaporated milk and curry, topped with fresh onions, fritters, and coriander. This is another noodle I’ve wanted to try before arriving here, this has been rather touted as the Burmese laksa.

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Ayam Laksa in Petaling Jaya

But Ohn no khao swe only resembles the Malay noodle dish in appearance, in taste it is an entirely different species of noodles altogether. It is lighter, with no meat, and there is a strong presence of onions.

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Shwe Taung Khao Swe

In Yangon I also ate a similar noodle called Shwe Taung Khao Swe. It varies from Ohn no kha swe with the presence of chicken and lime. They tell me Shwe Taung is also available in Taunggyi, but I have yet to encounter it.

I like both for their resemblance with tohpu nway and with laksa

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Mon Pya Lue: Literally translating to ‘ash sweet snack,’ this sweet is made from jaggery and glutinous rice, coated with toasted rice flour. It is somewhere between turkish delight and Kidapawan’s espasol, and that’s why I love it.

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Clockwise from top: Espasol, turkish delight, and ticoy. that space between the turkish deloght and ticoy is destined for mon pya lu

 

 

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Yellow splitpea tofu in vegetables

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Chickpea tofu being sold fried in Taunggyi’s night market

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Clockwise from top: peanut tofu, rice and yellow splitpea tofu salad, the spicy peanut sauce for the peanut tofu. You eat the peanut tofu by wrapping it in the lettuce leaves and dipping it in the peanut sauce. Served with hot clear soup.

Tofu: all kinds of them! Shan state has probably the most diverse variety of tofu in the world. There’s soybean, but there’s also chickpea, zadaw be (yellow split peas), rice, and peanut. Peanut is by far my favourite. Tofu always has such an auspicious feel, and the variety here makes you think luck too can come in many delightful forms!

 

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Nga Chate: no sentimentality here, this stuff is just gastronomic genius. black sticky rice with sugar, served with rich coconut milk. It is binignit without the pretentious camote and banana and langka and sago, coconut rice pudding with the simplicity of champorado.

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Indian sweets: no sentimentality here either. The white cube like ones are like wonderfully overgrown pastillas. They’re great with:

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Milked Tea: Of course I love the tea here. So strong you can feel the tea sediments in your tongue as you sip, Indian style milk tea in Taunggyi is served either with evaporated or condensed milk. I am so happy to be living in tea country.

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Vegetable and gourd fritters, served to us in Nyaungshwe by the family of SAG’s teacher Yiyi San. This was probably our eleventh plate already.

Fritters: all kinds of them! Vegetables, tofu, beans, different kinds of flour, gourds, even rice – oily oily goodness!

There are so much more great stuff I’ve tried in the short time I have been here: balachong, lahpet, the green tea, nan gyi thoke, mohinga. I could list them all and the list would go on and on!

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