Mohinga: Myanmar's National Dish

Eat & Drink | Asia-Pacific | By Karen MacRae

It’s hard to go hungry while walking the streets of Yangon or Mandalay. Assuming you don’t mind fish soup from a cart, that is.


Mohinga_insetRegarded as Myanmar’s national dish and prolific across the country, mohinga is a fish soup made with rice noodles. The exact recipe varies based on regional tastes and ingredients, but you’ll find a typical version in the country’s south, where fresh fish abounds.

To form the rich and hardy broth, vendors combine chickpea flour with a host of vegetables and seasoning, including onions, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and banana tree stem, then cook it in fish sauce. After combining the stew with rice vermicelli, the dish can be topped with an array of optional additions, including crispy fritters, chickpeas or a boiled egg—meaning each bowl of mohinga, like each individual experience in Myanmar, is completely unique.

Street Hawkers

Mohinga street hawker
A mohinga street hawker roams the streets in search of customers.

Due to its popularity, you’ll rarely—if ever!—find mohinga in short supply.

Sold by street hawkers and roadside stalls, Myanmar city streets are rife with mohinga. The original purveyors of Myanmar’s de facto national dish roam the streets, developing regular customers in certain neighbourhoods—and returning often once the relationship is established.

Traditionally, these roving soup salesmen would carry a shoulder stick with a soup cauldron on one side and rice vermicelli on the other. More recently, trishaws like the one pictured in the banner above have become popular as well—they bear all the ingredients one needs for a morning mohinga, minus the lower back pain for the salesman. In both cases, the broth is kept warm in the cauldron and combined with the vermicelli and other toppings after a customer has ordered.

Photography credit: Banner and street hawker photos images via Wikimedia
Mohinga inset photo Gary Stevens via Flick/CC BY 2.0