Inflation lurks over Myanmar’s favorite meal

YANGON — Shan khauk-swe is a noodle dish widely devoured in Myanmar. Many street stalls in Yangon, the largest city, serve the ethnic delight, originally from the northeastern state of Shan.

And despite rising prices and foreign fast-food options — Myanmar people still eat it up.

A bowl of shan khauk-swe consists of rice noodles briefly dipped in boiled water, minced chicken or pork and some vegetables, perhaps flavored with onion. People like to eat shan khauk-swe for breakfast or lunch. It is a relatively healthier choice than most other popular noodle dishes, like mohinga, served in a soup made with catfish or other river fish, or ohn no khauk-swe, a coconut milk soup.

Golden Bell Tea Centre — an old diner on Bogyoke Aung San Road in central Yangon — has been serving shan khauk-swe for over 20 years. The restaurant opens at 4 a.m. and offers a delivery service, too.

A day in Yangon does not start without the noodle dish, a 22-year-old restaurant employee said.

Under military rule, dining out in Myanmar meant eating at street stalls. But foreign restaurant operators have since descended. In 2015, America’s Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first Myanmar outlet just down the street from Golden Bell Tea Centre.

Since Myanmar shifted to democracy, the economy has been growing, pushing the annual inflation rate up to double digits. Amid the rush, cooking oil and onions have become more expensive.

As a result, Golden Bell Tea Center last year raised the price of shan khauk-swe by 200 kyat($15), to 1,200 kyat.

A 39-year-old Shan who came to work in Yangon more than 10 years ago still eats shan khauk-swe for breakfast. KFC as well as chain restaurants from Thailand are too much of a splurge, she said.

So shan khauk-swe maintains its status as the meal that feeds Myanmar.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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