Yangon's Fascinating Architectural History

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Many of our customers are as intirgued by Yangon's colonial architecture as they are by the food we share with them. Both the food and the cityscape of downtown tell the story of difficult decades past, colonialist lifestyles and the transition into modern times.  

Ornately designed government buildings left behind by the British, luxury department stores, flotilla company headquarters to the quaint balconies of the residences of civil servants and wealthy merchants. All of these buildings pepper downtown and add a fascinating aspect to this South East Asian former capital city.

Anyone interested in exploring more of Yangon's architecture still standing from the colonial era, check out this Blog with a map and information on some downtown highlights. Some of the beautiful buildings mentioned along with many others we will also come across on our tours and often can take the time to eat while pondering the lives of these buildings.

Here's why you shouldn't boycott travel to Myanmar

Sa Ba Street Food Tours guide Mi Mi was recently asked by the travel and lifestyle website, The Matador Network, how travel boycotts could effect the ordinary people of Myanmar. Here is an excerpt below but to read this very insightful article in full click here

Tourism funds locals whose livelihood depends on travelers.

The tourism industry in Myanmar is nascent. Although the borders in Myanmar were never closed to foreign visitors, tourism has only spiked in recent years. Soe says that “over the last 5 years, tourism has been a very positive force, creating many jobs and opportunities that never previously existed in our communities. I work as a street food tour guide and this type of job never existed before tourists started visiting and wanted to discover our local food. On our tours, we visit family-run places to be sure that all of the money is being spent responsibly at a local level.”

Tourism is vital to the local economy in Myanmar, especially among the lower class. Marston has seen this first-hand, “tourism is helping alleviate poverty in Myanmar by creating new jobs in tourism, hospitality, and infrastructure-related industries because of the need to accommodate tourists.” The Oxford Business Group reports that employment from tourism in Myanmar will rise by 66% between 2015 and 2026. The potential for tourism to impact the country is immense.

We're in Escape.com's Best Thing to See and Do in Yangon

A journalist from Escape magazine recently came along on our evening street food tour and we showed him around the most interesting and delicious places of downtown. Click here to read the full article discussing the top things to do in Yangon and why Sa Ba Street Food tours is one of them.

Sa Ba Street Food Tours Must See and Do in Yangon

 

"To cover serious foodie ground – and to give your stomach a workout – join Sa Ba Street Food Tours. Led by expat Marc Shortt, who was raised in the UK by a Burmese father and has since returned to his ancestral homeland, the three-hour walking tours cover all the essential local dishes. Freshly stuffed Indian paratha, Shan-style noodles, sugar-filled falooda (yoghurt dessert with rose syrup, sago balls and pistachio ice cream) and, to finish, an ice-cold beer and barbecue feast on Chinatown’s 19th Street." Written by Paul Ewart from Escape.com.au

An Ode to Myanmar Snacks and the Vendors Cries

An ode to Myanmar street snacks written by an 80yr old local. I like the sound of the singing contest between vendors held in 1942. Still today I hear some beautiful voices walking amongst the vendors.

"Problems loom for street vendors: The authorities in Myanmar's big cities are pushing them away. In Yangon, around Chinatown, at the corner of Mahabandoola street, hawkers are on the YCDC’s radar. This is regrettable. Not only are they the lifeline of many families, but they feed a large part of the population. This is especially true for workers with long hours, and often with several jobs, who cannot afford to sit down in a restaurant or tea shop, but much prefer snacking on the go.

Oldies like myself will miss the street vendors, their soups, their snacks, their sights and their cries."

Checkout the full article here on the Myanmar Times Website

"The Best Food Tour in Yangon"

Recently Amber and Ben from Ayinsa based down in the south of Myanmar, Dawei, joined us on a evening food tour and here's what they had to say: 

The best food tour in Yangon

August 10, 2017

Last time we were in Yangon, the Ayinsa team had the absolute pleasure of taking a street food tour with Saba Street Food Tours. Ayinsa has been on many food tours in cities all around the world and very few come close to our experience with Sa Ba.

If you're looking for an insight into the food and culture of Yangonites, then Sa Ba Street Food Tours are the way to go. 

 We kicked off the evening tour around 5.30pm with a quick snack on some lotus seeds (pictured). None of us had ever tried them before. Their flavour is subtle and tart all at the same time with a pleasant aftertaste that lingers. A great healthy snack for any time of day.  

From their the tour was a whirlwind of flavours, tastes and experiences that we simply could not have managed on our own. And that's the point of paying for a tour right? To have an experience that you couldn't replicate yourself. Sa Ba delivers this in spades. They know every nook and cranny of Yangon. From the best mohinga stall in Yangon to where to find the most delectable Indian desserts in downtown. We sampled more than 15 different snacks and meals. Pro tip - make sure you arrive with an empty stomach. 

The most insightful part of the tour was the huge amount of knowledge that the Sa Ba guys had on every aspect of food, street life, culture and history. They simply opened our eyes to a Yangon that we didn't know existed.

Any great tour exceeds expectations - and for us, it was the little things that took this tour from good to great. 

https://www.ayinsa.com/single-post/2017/08/10/Best-food-tour-in-Yangon

Tasty and Easy Shan Noodle Recipe

 Shan noodle recipe - Easy to make Myanmar (Burmese) dishes.

Serves 4

Takes about 30mins

Ingredients

  • Vermicelli rice noodles
  • 4 chicken thighs with the bone
  • 10 ripe red whole tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic (3 cloves minced)
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 inch nugget of ginger
  • 1 onion minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Garnish with:

  • Spring onion greens thinly sliced
  • 8 tablespoons of crushed peanuts

First fill a cooking pot with about 2 litres of water, add the chicken thighs, 2 whole cloves of garlic, nugget of ginger and boil.

Then add the whole tomatoes to separate pot, cover with water and simmer for about 10 mins or until the skins become loose and easy to peel (this is the secret to a sweet and rich tomato sauce without relying on lots of sugar). Carefully remove tomatoes from water and set aside to cool.

Once the chicken loosens from the bone, lift them from the water and put aside to cool (keep the water-we'll use this for soup). Pull the meat from the bones and dice meat roughly. Now put the bones back into the water along with the nugget of ginger, 2 cloves garlic, and continue to boil (add more water if necessary), salt and pepper to taste – here is your soup.

For the tomato sauce:

Pull of the skins and crush tomatoes with a fork in a bowl.

Heat pan, add all the oils and gently fry minced garlic, onion, and ginger with fish and soy sauce. Add the tomatoes, sugar and simmer until the tomato sauce is rich and thick (add a little water to help it stew but not too watery).

Add rice noodles to boiling water until limp then divide between bowls. Spoon tomato sauce on top, followed by the chicken then garnish with spring onion greens and crushed peanuts.

Strain the soup and serve as a side dish. Pickled mustard greens or kimchi and dried chilli make a perfect accompaniment.

Le petit déjeuner dans les troquets de rue à Rangoun

Salut tout le monde! Pour les francophones parmi nous, voici un article paru dans Le petit journal sur notre Rangoun tour pour le petit-dejeuner

For the French speakers among us, take a look at this article in le Petit Journal by a journalist who recently joined our breakfast walking tour.

http://www.lepetitjournal.com/birmanie/sortir/284297-j-ai-teste-pour-vous-le-petit-dejeuner-dans-les-troquets-de-rues-a-rangoun-des-saveurs-de-tous-les-coins-d-asie

One world, many flavours, similar tastes

Yesterday we had guests from Sweden, Brazil and Australia all on the same tour and it was fascinating sharing food and travel stories. Although the guests had just arrived in Yangon and never experienced Myanmar food before they were pleased to see similarities between their home cuisines here and there. It turns out people in Brazil love the infamous durian fruit just as much as the Burmese. The Swedes were impressed with the local approach to fish and the many ways it can be prepared, cooked and preserved - similar to the Swedish respect for fish.

Not technically a food but the local beetlenut which many people here chew on to provide a little buzz of stimulation also isn't too dissimilar to the little parcels of Swedish snus. Although no one on the tour seems likely to take up the beetlenut habit.

 Approaching Sule Pagoda on the evening street food tour

Approaching Sule Pagoda on the evening street food tour

Thanks to Tash for sharing some photos from the night.

 

 

 Deep in discussion

Deep in discussion