[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] Myanmar cuisine at 𝗚𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝘄𝗶𝗻

Gantawin on Jalan Lebuh Pudu in Kuala Lumpur’s gritty old downtown district, the area behind Kotaraya shopping complex, serves perhaps the best Myanmarese/Burmese food in the city, catering to the roughly 100,000-strong Myanmar community in Kuala Lumpur.

Opened from 8am daily, the eatery’s wall murals and decorative artworks were evocative of their Burmese homeland.

Restaurant staff, their cheeks plastered with the distinctive yellow-hued thanaka cosmetic paste, plucking roselle leaves for use in soups and stir-fries.

Besides the a la carte menu, the restaurant also has a self-service food counter with a variety of dishes (which change daily, depending on what raw produce is available in the market) that customers can select from for their lunch plates.

We opted to order their noodle dishes from the menu, and service was pretty prompt:

Mohinga - practically Burma’s national dish: a sour-spicy noodle dish with an addictive fish broth. I particularly liked the boiled banana stems, and the crunchy crisp-fried split pea fritters called pè gyaw.

See Kyat Kyauk-Swe - this is a very garlicky fried/braised noodle dish, served with a small bowl of pork-rib and gourd soup. The egg noodles had a lovely texture which reminded me somewhat of Chinese “yee mein”, and the garlicky dressing tasted pretty close to Chinese ones.

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Really enjoyed both options - we really must come back to explore more of their menu.

Address
Gantawin
29 Jalan Lebuh Pudu, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-217 7782
Opening hours: 8am to 9pm daily

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This mohinga is practically unrecognizable from the mohinga we got here. In fact, none of the mohingas we got here are sour and spicy. Never seen banana stems and so much ‘stuff’ in ours either. Here its just a soup with chunks of catfish in there. Is this the real deal?

I’m wondering whether the mohinga you’ve got was from a certain region where the Burmese in your area came from, as Burmese cuisine is pretty regional. But “chunks of catfish” sounded like they are trying to cater to Americanized dietary love for more meats. Mohinga usually contained minced/flaked fish meat, never chunks.

I imagine the banana stems were omitted by your local Burmese restaurants as they are not easily acquired.

The KL mohinga I had are the same as those from Singapore’s Myanmar restaurants, e.g. Inle, which was my regular hangout for good Burmese eats. This would be the Rangoon/Yangon version.
http://www.inlemyanmar.com.sg/

Banana stems seem to be a distinguishing feature - I first encountered mohinga during my college days in Australia, as I had Burmese classmates who cooked that - I remembered being surprised to see that particular ingredient since we have bananas trees in Singapore/Malaysia, but no one uses the stems for cooking. We’d use banana flowers for salads or curries.

Would you happen to have any pictures of the mohinga you had? I can ask my friend, Bryan Koh, who wrote this huge tome on Burmese food, “0451 Morninga are for Mont Hin Gar”. He spent years trekking through the country’s various regions, so may be able to explain.

An extract of a recipe from his book:

BTW, just sharing some pictures I took a couple of years ago at Penang’s Dhammikarama Burmese temple - I’d taken my 3 visiting Singaporean aunties there, as they were devout Buddhists. We were served the mohinga, and you can see the sliced banana stem here:

Lots of noodles!

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Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist temple is one of Penang’s oldest, by the way - built in 1803, and it grew and grew, as the Burmese, together with the Siamese and Chinese, were among the earliest settlers in Penang when they came in the 1780s.

My aunts were suitably impressed by the temple’s many Buddha effigies.

The Burmese, both men & women, tend to like to apply thanaka, a cream made from the ground bark of the thanaka tree, on their faces.

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Ah, my bad, i meant minced. Here’s one from a restaurant in Newark called Golden Prawn. I didn’t get it but here’s a menu picture.

Here’s the version from Kyain Kyain in Fremont (M15):

I wonder also if its because they were priced as appetizers at around $7- simpler as a result.

And here’s a version from Aung Maylika from Benecia. $12 at the time.

The egg in the mohinga here never looks like the one in Bryan Koh’s book. Its always completely cooked here in the Bay Area.

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The ones you have there looked about right. I think the Myanmarese in the US just made do with what they had there to produce something which closely approximate what they missed from their homeland.

It’s like the now-defunct Straits Restaurant at the Westfield SF Centre which purportedly served “Singapore food”. I was a regular and would drop in there whenever I suddenly develop a pang for some familiar “Asian” taste when I used to work in SF for protracted periods back in 2006-2010. Of course, nothing really tasted like what we got back in Singapore, but had been adjusted to satisfy local tastes and supply constraints.

I remembered once ordering roti prata served with supposedly “sayur lodeh” - in the first place, no one eats prata with sayur lodeh (a spicy, coconut-enriched vegetable stew) in Singapore, but I ordered it anyway. I surmised that owner, Chris Yeo (a Singaporean to boot), offered that because American customers would expect to see larger pieces of vegetables, instead of just a plain dhal curry with tiny pieces of carrots or radish. But, even then, what I was eventually served turned out to be Thai green curry!! It wasn’t even “sayur lodeh”! :joy:

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