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Top Restaurants in Mandalay - Selected Local Restaurants

Top Restaurants in Mandalay - Selected Local Restaurants

By Wendy Updated Jul. 5, 2021

Where are the best restaurants in Mandalay, Myanmar? Good ones are situated near the Royal Palace, and local eateries are scattered round every corner.

Most travelers stop in Mandalay for at least two days and it is possible to discover some great food in the non-tourist restaurants. Based on feedback from Asia Highlights' customers, this article sheds some light on where to find some of the best restaurants.

Dining in Mandalay

For geographical reasons, Mandalay is not exactly a gourmet destination. Unlike Inle Lake in Shan state, which sells itself as the origin for Shan food, and Ngapali Beach which brings on an unending seafood feast, Mandalay's dining scene somehow lacks distinguishing features.

Let's not forget, however, that this is the second largest city in Myanmar, and a new influx of eateries is soon bound to reshape the landscape.

Mandalay is the gateway to Upper Myanmar, encompassing greater Mandalay (modern Mandalay, along with the Sagaing and Magway regions), Kachin and Shan states.

Cuisine from the Kachin hillsides and Inle Lake shores of Shan state are brought here to satisfy international diners. Outside the city, small yet clean restaurants provide relaxing stopovers on your trip to Amarapura or Sagaing.

The city has its own specialties: Mandalay Meeshay, a typical noodle soup with meat sauce and pickles; fried chapati, flatbread with bean paste and veggie stuffing; samosa salad, served with refreshing herbs, mint, green chili, onions and lime. The domestic Mandalay Beer brand is a great choice for slaking thirst.

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Top Restaurants in Mandalay

In the City

1. Mingalabar Restaurant - Asia Highlights - Top Pick

Meaning "hello" in Burmese, Mingalabar offers an inviting dining experience during your Mandalay city tour. The restaurant is east of the Royal Palace, in a two-story teak wood building.

The ground floor is for big groups of more than 5 travelers, so if you would like some privacy, the waiter will show you to the second floor where you would have a private box or be on the terrace. Staff can speak good English and are more than happy to explain how every dish is made.

Big portions are served. For example, chicken curry, one of the main dishes, always comes with another 4 to 6 complimentary side dishes. "Samosas and chicken curry" is the all-time favorite, served with a veggie platter and brown rice.

Mutton chickpea curry is beautifully done, with succulent meat in a rich-yet-mild sauce. With a speedy free wifi, this is definitely a meal going to reside in your Instagram.

Location: 71st between 28th & 29th Street | Chan Aye Tharzan Township, Mandalay

Category: Burmese

Cost: USD 15 to 25 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: Yes for halal options, with the non-pork dishes; vegetarians should find some other place.

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2. Spice Garden

The head chef, key ingredients and most importantly the tandoor oven are all imported from India.

Spice Garden, the restaurant of the Red Canal Hotel, prides itself as the best Indian restaurant in Mandalay. A mind-easing view inside the lush garden, brightly-lit dining area and efficient service earn it extra points.

Whether eating inside or dining alfresco, it can be a good spot, not only for food but also for ambiance.

While Indian food is often labeled spicy and greasy, Spice Garden adapts new culinary techniques to present it in more appealing terms. Loads of local ingredients, including fish products, tea leaves and chickpeas, are used in their specialties.

Freshly baked rotis (home-made Indian breads) go very well with coconut milk; tandoor roasted chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside; biryanis, an India-inspired rice dish with mutton or chicken and vegetables, is a good main dish, followed by a nice cup of Myanmar tea.

Location: No 417, corner of 63rd & 22nd Road Mandalay | Aung Myae Tha Zan Township, Mandalay

Category: Burmese, Indian

Cost: USD 25 to 45 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: yes

3. Bistro At 82nd

Opened not long ago, this homely tavern-like bistro in downtown Mandalay is on the list of expat hangout locations. The Swiss manager takes great care of the place, and on the food front, it is mainly European.

Hand-drawn sketches on the limited menu suggest the ingredients; ordering and serving are done efficiently via polite and friendly staff. Some ingredients are imported, as are the wines.

Among the specials, tenderloin steak, sea bass, salmon and pasta, desserts and special drinks are all popular. The restaurant is known for good coffee and home-made ginger beer.

If you have a sweet tooth, try out the chocolate mousse. Prices are higher than usual in Myanmar, but the same as in Europe, and worth every penny for the superb service.

Location: 82nd St | between 30 and 31th Street, Mandalay

Category: European

Cost: USD 45 to 60 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: yes for halal but vegetarians can find something better than this place

4. Golden Duck

The Chinese have had a strong influence in Burmese culture. For Chinese fare, try out the Golden Duck. The big Donald Duck standing outside the restaurant might suggest it's a fast food chain, but the fact is that this restaurant has been running for decades as a favored meeting spot for middle-class Burmese.

Food is served on a typical Chinese round rolling table. The house specialty, roast duck, is normally served with half a duck, unless otherwise specified. As you might expect back home at a Chinese restaurant, they also have Kung Pow Chicken, dumplings and other Chinese-type menu items.

Stewed pork in pumpkin looks unusual and leaves a lingering taste. One downside is that the restaurant does not have much choice of drinks and desserts.

Location: Strand Road, Mandalay

Category: Chinese

Cost: USD 25 to 35 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: not so much

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Beyond the City

1. Mya Nandar

Mya Nandar is located beside the Irrawaddy River in a teak wood house, near the jetty for boats to Mingun. Fortunately its standing as a primary location for tourists doesn't hurt its food and services.

This restaurant is also known as Mandalay Kitchen. It has a clean dining area overlooking the river, perfect for a sunset dinner after you are back from Mingun.

Food is served in deep laquerwork bowls. Portions are handsome and accompanied by several side dishes.

A traditional puppet show is performed to the accompaniment of soft background music. Food is a mixture of Burmese and Thai, including steamed fish and chicken curry. Be there before 5 pm for a stunning sunset view over the river.

Location: near the jetty, Mandalay

Category: Burmese, Thai

Cost: USD 15 to 25 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: not so much

2. Garden Cafe

A hidden gem in Mingun, the Garden Cafe is located in a peaceful village facing the legendary Mingun Bell. Dining tables are set in the garden under tree shades, offering a view of the Irrawaddy River from a distance.

A rich menu including items "From the Grill", "From the Garden", and "From the Bakery" caters to every mood.

Since its capacity is not so great, the cafe is not targeted by large groups, which ensures you can have a quiet moment, away from a bazillion people.

The set-menu lunch includes 4 courses, starting with soup and ending with vegetables; a delightful quickie, followed by an iced juice or latte.

Location: In front of Mingun Bell, Mingun, Mandalay

Category: Burmese, international

Cost: USD 15 to 30 per person

Halal and vegetarian-friendly: yes

Mandalay is never short of good restaurants. If, however, you feel like sitting on a low chair by the street instead of in a restaurant, to try out a bowl of Mandalay Meeshay, our experienced local guide certainly knows where to take you.

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