[Penang] Burmese lunch at Mingalarpar, Burmah Road

Penang’s Burmese community has been part of George Town’s colourful cosmopolitan populace since the time of its founding by the British in 1786. The early Burmese settlers populate streets which have subsequently taken on Burmese names: Burmah Road, Rangoon Road, Moulmein Road, Tavoy Road, Irrawadi Road, Salween Road, Mandalay Road, etc.

In Pulau Tikus, George Town’s oldest suburb, there was a large Burmese community concentrated mainly in Kampung Ava (named after the old Burmese capital, Ava), situated near the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple which dates back to 1803.

What to eat whilst on Burmah Road? Burmese food, of course - from Mingalarpar, a tiny family-run Burmese eatery at the junction of Burmah Road and Cantonment Road.

We dined on piquant 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘨𝘢𝘳, Burma’s national dish: rice noodles bathed in a light spicy fish broth, garnished with slices of boiled heart of banana trunk.

A perfect accompaniment was 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘵 𝘨𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘬𝘦 - pig’s head salad, with slivers of crunchy pig’s ears and gelatinous pig’s skin, and crisp slices of raw onions & cucumber. The lightly sour-sweet dressing lifted the salad a notch above the ordinary.

We also ordered 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘢 𝘵𝘩𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯 (beef curry) and 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯 (pork belly curry), both oozing deep, delicious flavours.

Mimi Saung, who took our orders and served out the food, was the perfect hostess. We asked to meet the chef, who happened to be Mimi’s aunt. When Mimi said, “I’ll ask my aunt, who cooked all these dishes, to come out”, we were expecting a matronly Burmese lady instead of a young woman almost indistinguishable in age from her niece!

The restaurant caters to an almost all-Burmese clientele. So, we were assured that the flavours there were 100% authentic.

Menu in Burmese and English:

379, Burmah Road, 10350 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6011 24151927
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm daily


This is a new one for me

1 Like

Those two curries looked amazingly delicious!! :ok_hand: :+1: :yum: :yum: :grinning:

1 Like

Both were good. Burmese curries are closer in character and taste to Bengali-Indian curries, and also reminiscent of those we get in Chiangmai (Northwest Thailand) - aromatic, on the verge of being floral, and faintly sweet.


Sounds super-delectable! Walt’s the spice level like? For me, I can only tolerate ’ Northern Indian ’ heat. Southern Indian/Ceylon style kills me!! :rofl: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

1 Like

Their food will suit you just fine, Charles! Very, very mild in terms of chili content.


Back to 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗽𝗮𝗿 for lunch. There is a Burmese saying, “Of all fruits, mango is best; of all meats, pork is best; of all leaves, 𝙡𝙖𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙩 is best”.

We were here to partake of 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗽𝗮𝗿’s 𝙡𝙖𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙠𝙚 - fermented tea leaves, mixed with crisp-fried yellow split gram, lablab beans and butter beans. Toasted sesame seeds and peanuts were thrown in for good measure. We tasted tomatoes, chilis, dried shrimps, raw garlic, crisp garlic chips, … many things. It was delicious.

We ordered two curries from the display counter: 𝙠𝙮𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖 𝙝𝙞𝙣 - a dry chicken curry, slick with red chili oil; and 𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙩 𝙤𝙤 𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙣 - egg curry, with short batons of drumstick/moringa vegetable. Both curries were very mild in terms of chili-content, compared to Penang’s Malay, South Indian, Nyonya or local Chinese curries.

The 𝙗𝙪 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙚 𝙠𝙮𝙖𝙬 (gourd fritters) here were really good: moist slabs of bottle gourd, cloaked in gram flour batter and deep-fried to a golden-crisp. It’s served with a garlic-ginger-chili-tamarind dip, raw pips of garlic and fresh sprigs of coriander on the side.

The 𝙣𝙖𝙣 𝙜𝙮𝙞 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙠𝙚 (spicy noodle salad) looked good on paper, but came out a bit too robust for me: ultra-spicy, but with not much else in its taste profile.
The fat noodles reminded one of Japanese udon: slippery on the outside, thick and floury on the inside. It’s served with a wedge of hard-boiled egg, and a slice of calamansi lime to squeeze over the noodles.

We couldn’t resist ordering the 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘨𝘢𝘳, and the version today actually tasted better than what we had a few days earlier. We did notice an older woman manning to kitchen today - perhaps the family matriarch, which likely accounted for the improved taste of the dish.


Are these eaten with the fritters, between bites, or … ?

When we visited Burma in 2007 (I think?), mohinga saved us. I can’t even put into words how much our trip to Burma means to us. Life-changing, to say the least.

And BTW, Naomi Duguid in her excellent “Burma” uses banana stem in several recipes.


They are to be eaten in-between bites of the fritters. The platter felt like a deconstructed pesto to accompany the fritters. :joy:

1 Like

That’s amazing. I’d never had the opportunity to visit Burma itself - once, a few years ago, there was some real hope for change and democracy in that country. But the military junta is now back with a vengeance.

Penang has a thriving Burmese population today - still dreaming to visit the country one day in the not-too-distant future!


Is the banana stem a new ingredient for you, or is the technique (boiled slices) new to you?

Banana stem is found all over in South Indian, Bangla, Odiya, and Northeastern cuisine, and also Burma, wherever bananas grow abundantly and all parts of the plant are useful.

There are, of course, historical connections between India and Burma, seen in many Burmese ingredients and dishes.

In terms of technique I am more familiar with drawing out the banana fibres from the sliced stems, then dicing and soaking in plain or acidulated water (to prevent browning); rather than leaving the slices as-is and then boiling.

I first came across boiled banana stems in Burmese mohinga back in 1984 - cooked by Burmese college mates.

But since then, when I was back in Singapore from the late-80s till the 2010s, I’d never been able to find banana stems in the various ethnic cooking styles in Singapore.

I moved to KL in 2011, and I was finally able to find Burmese mohinga, with banana stems, again. Loved it to bits.

Oh yes, one can see strong Indian influences on Burmese cooking.
But the various Indian regional cooking styles in Penang have not utilised banana stems as much as they should. Perhaps they evolved over the centuries. The Tamils, Telugus, Malayalees, Gujerati, Bengalis, Punjabis, etc. have settled in Penang since the 1780s, and are as much a part of Penang’s makeup and identity as the Chinese and Malays.