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Currently, he is contributing to Tourism in Myanmar by making his online Burmese lessons freely available and accessible to all.
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If you wine & dine in expensive hotel restaurants in Myanmar, you shouldn't have any problem ordering the food because
they will have English speaking waiters as well as menu in English. However, if you're one of those tourists who venture on
their own eating out in smaller eating houses and establishments, you may need some help in communicating with the waiters.
Of course, the best thing is to learn to say the menu items in Burmese. The easy way out is just to point out the
Burmese words to the waiter. Here's exactly what you need. Download
PDF file with Burmese Script and English Romanization using 1,2,3 Tone System
Revision: D Revised Date: 2015-01-20 File Size: 132 KB Number of Pages: 11
This PDF file contains Burmese, Chinese, Indian, Local Ethnic and European Menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as
well as various snacks, appetizers, sauce & side dishes, soups, vegetable dishes, dessert, sweets, drinks &
As a foreigner in Myanmar, you will find it very useful to be able to order food and beverages in Burmese.
You will have to pick up some vocabulary used in ordering food. Secondly, you need to understand
some likely answers from the waiter. That's exactly what we are going to learn in this lesson.
The phrase "xxxxyah1ma1la3"
is used to ask if something is available.
means "Beer available?"
The likely answers to that question are:
-- Yes, please wait (to get + future tense)
-- Please take a seat. (sit + suggestion)
-- Not available. (negative + available + negative ending)
-- has just run out. (run out + present state of condition)
-- has run out for some time. (run out + gone + present state)
-- We don't have it. (negative + present + negative ending)
Myanmar Grammar Notes:yah1 is a verb in Burmese grammar, but it is roughly equivalent to the adjective
"available" in English. yah1ma1la3"
in English is "Is it available?" The actual meaning in Burmese is : "to get" + "can be done" + ?
Another example: loat-lo1yah1ma1la3" is a question of whether or not something can be done.
("do as this" + "can be done" + ?)
Why is it taking so long?
If you have ordered something for a while and it is taking a long time, you can ask:
"xxxxma1yah1thay3 bu3 la3"
or, simply "ma1yah1thay3 bu3 la3"
without mentioning the food item.
khout-hsweare3 -- noodle (noun) kjau2 -- to fry (verb) ma1 -- not (particle) yah1 -- to get (verb); to obtain (verb); roughly means "available" thay3 -- yet (particle) bu3 -- negative (particle) la3 -- ? (particle)
khout-hsweare3-kjau2ma1yah1thay3 bu3 la3
-- Fried noodles not ready yet?
The word kjau2
means "to fry" and khout-hsweare3
refers to noodles. So, khout-hsweare3-kjau2
means "fried noodles".
The likely answers you will hear are:
-- Please wait a while. (a short while [noun] + [particle] indicating small amount)
-- Still not available. (negative + to obtain + not yet + negative ending)
-- It will be ready soon. (available + indicating future action + future tense ending)
You can probably follow up with this response:
-- Why is it taking so long?
means to be lengthy in time, or to take a long time. lite da2
means to the extreme degree.
You have to be careful with kha1-nah1lay3
by the Burmese waiter asking you to wait a while. He will never tell you
meaning it will take a long time, even if you ask him:
-- Is it going to take long?
It all depends on how busy they are and which eatery you dine at.
Measure Words for food and drinks
You need to remember two primary measure words, also known as numerical classifiers. For food items,
which can be soften to sound like bweare3.
It means an order of something to eat. For drinks, use khwet
meaning a glass or a cup.
-- a plate or an order of fried noodles
-- fried noodles for 2 persons
-- fried noodles for 3, and so on.
Please refer to Lesson 12 for numbers and measure words in details.
Similarly, you can say:
-- a glass of beer
-- two glasses of beer
Beer, alcohol, and liquors are available in a large number of eating houses and almost all up-scale restaurants that
are licensed to sell alcoholic drinks. You can order local Myanmar draft beer in a glass or a jar cheaply.
It is easy to remember the measure word for a jar. The same English word "jar" is used, and pronounced
as ja3. be2-ya2ta1-ja3
means one jar of beer, and it is about 5 glasses.
In some eating places, you will notice imported cold drinks in tin cans together with local soft drinks in glass bottles
and purified drinking water in plastic bottles. They are usually kept inside a refrigerator with a glass door near
the cashier's counter. You can have soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi, and Sunkist imported from Thailand. In 2013, Coca Cola
manufacturing plant in Hmobi, a town north of Yangon, has started its operations.
Coca Cola made a $200 million
investment with a projected job creation of 22,000 over five years span. As of 2014, 1.25L bottle of
Coke is sold for 700 kyat (approx. US 70 cent). Made in Myanmar Pepsi is also
available in Myanmar now. (See Pepsi Cola Myanmar facebook page)
Tiger beer brand from Singapore is also available, but if you read the printing carefully, you will see that it is brewed
and canned in Myanmar. Myanmar Beer also comes in tin cans.
Measure word for plastic bottles and tin can in Burmese
is used for glass bottles.
Tiger be2-ya2ta1-bu3pay3ba2 - Give me a can of Tiger Beer. (Tiger + beer +
one + can + give + suggestion)
yay2-thun1ta1-bu3pay3ba2 - Give me a bottle of mineral water.
(water + clean + one + bottle + give + suggestion)
If you have an urge for a stronger alcohol content, you can order Whiskey or Rum in "peg".
If you want the whole bottle, then say:
Whisky-ta1-ba1-lin3pay3ba2 - Give me a bottle of Whisky. (Whisky + one
bottle + give + suggestion)
While in Myanmar, try Myanmar made Aythaya Wine and Grand Royal Whisky.
Aythaya Wine produced by a team of German experts is the first Western style wine in Myanmar made with grapes grown in the village of
located between Inle Lake and Taunggyi at the altitude of 1,300 meter above sea level.
Grand Royal Whisky is the product of over 17 years of experience by Scottish Master Blender William Arthur.
Those are the affordable gift ideas. As for myself, I am always content with soft drinks or plain water for dinner.
As of April 2012, a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label in Ocean supermarket is sold for around 20,000 kyat
(around USD 25) (Note: there was no sales tax added in Myanmar at that time but tax is now included in the selling price with much higher
sticker prices compared to a few years ago.)
Take Out Food
English word "parcel" is used in restaurant and eating houses in Myanmar for take out food
packed in styrofoam boxes. It may not be correct English, just like "packet", which is a direct translation of "pau" in Mandarin Chinese
is used in Singapore for the take out order.
khout-hsweare3-kjau2ta1-bweare3 -pa2-hseare2 -- One fried noodles to go!
Alternatively, you can say :
pa2-hseare2htoat pay3ba2 -- Can you put it in the bag?
(parcel + to pack + to give + suggestion)
Halal food for Muslims
You will find a number of packaged and processed food with "Halal" printing both in English and Arabic. That
means they are approved by Islamic Religious Affairs Council in Myanmar. You normally don't expect a Chinese
person to be a muslim, but some Chinese in Myanmar are Muslims, and you can ask the local people where you can
get pan3-thay3 khout-hsweare3,
a type of fried noodle similar to Mee Gorang
in Malaysia and Singapore. Their spicy cooking style probably comes from the south-western part of China. You can also get
Halal biryani rice with chicken and mutton. Those shops are usually owned by Indian Muslims, and some are
wealthy enough to expand into chain-restaurants.
-- One chicken biryani, please! (chicken + biryani rice + one + order)
-- Two mutton biryani, please! (mutton + biryani rice + two + order)
Normally, you have a choice of either a spoon and a fork or a pair of chop sticks. Go to an American KFC style fast
food restaurant, and you will be surprised to be served with a knife and a fork. This will be a totally new experience if you have
considered fried chickens to be "finger licking good!" In early July 2015, the real American KFC opened
it's first branch in Yangon near the busy intersection of Bogyoke Aung San Road and Sule Pagoda Road.
As for eating rice, just like other south east asian countries, a spoon using your right hand is supposed to scoop up the rice
while use your fork in the left hand to push the rice into the spoon in front. This makes more sense and certainly more
efficient than using a fork-- American style, or chinese chop sticks.
zoon3neare1kha1-yin3pay3ba2 -- Give me a spoon and a fork.
(spoon + with + fork + give + suggestion)
tu2pay3ba2 -- Give me chopsticks.
(chopstick + give + suggestion)
-- Can I have a knife? (knife + available + ?)
For breakfast, Burmese people have peare3-pyoat,
a type of pea steamed and fried with rice, or eaten with nun2-bya3,
round baked staple food made from dough of flour. Ethnic Shan or Kachin people eat khau3-boat,
which is a type of black sticky rice grounded and baked or fried. Ungrounded Burmese version of glutinous rice is
which is served with the mixture of grounded sesame seeds and salt sprinkled over it.
Another breakfast or lunch item favorite with the Burmese people is mone1-hin3-kha3.
If you have ever tried Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Malay Laksa,
it is the same idea, except for that the soup base is made from a type of cat fish, and the rice noodle has a distinct fermented aroma.
The soup base of mone1-hin3-kha3 contains baked rice and pea flour,
banana stem, hard-boiled duck eggs, onions, lemon grass and fish sauce. The fish is separately fried with
minced garlic, onion, ginger, and turmeric powder until golden brown for the appetizing aroma, and added to
the soup base. It is eaten with crispy fried onions or fried melon, and garnished with fresh
cilantro (parsley), lime or lemon, and sprinkle a little chili powder before serving.
It is my favorite; the ingredients of mone1-hin3-kha3 seem to raise the
overall endocrine system of the human body and one bowl is never enough. But I have to warn you, if you
are a Westerner not accustomed to the taste of fish gravy, you might not find it pleasant.
Then, you should try ome3-no1 khout-hsweare3,
which is another soup-based noodle, but made with coconut milk, garlic, ginger, onions, hard-boiled eggs, pea powder, chili powder and chicken.
It is closer to Malay Laksa.
Another of my favorite is khout-hsweare3-thoat,
a kind of salad with the mixture of noodle, rice in chili oil, cabbage, bean sprout, green papaya, toufu, shredded dried shrimp flakes, mashed potatoes,
fish sauce, tamarind sauce with garlic, and garnished with fried crispy garlic in oil. There are a number of decent
restaurants specializing in Burmese food. Contact Asia Pearl Travels for details.
Food Poisoning & diarrhoea
Be forewarned about eating in unclean roadside stalls. For some reasons, local people seem to have developed immunity
to unhygienic food preparations in some roadside stalls. Is the immunity in the Burmese gene? No, even returning Burmese
living abroad have lost this immunity and develop stomach upset problems. For your own convenience, bring medication for
diarrhoea if you want to be adventurous. On the other hand, outbreak of e coli, cholera or hepatitis will affect local and
foreigners alike. Learn how to say, "I have a stomach ache" in lesson 21.
I think I have covered enough for you to be able to exchange a fairly good conversation with the waiter, and at the
same time introduce you to the background of food in Myanmar. You will just have to build up some more vocabulary on
the menu items. The main staple of Burmese is hta1-min3 | rice,
which is eaten with dishes called hin3.
-- What do you have? or What dishes are available?
(what + dish + available + choice word + ?)
To answer that question, I have listed the vocabulary of food menu items on the left side. Visit Myanmar with Asia Pearl Travels,
and enjoy your meal!