How To Act Like A Burmese On The Dining Table

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 17:25

Cuisine culture of a new country is a fascinating story that travellers enjoy on their way. each nation has its own set of customs and principles for dining. Myanmar is not an exception.

A tasty journey around Myanmar is an opportunity for international foodies to integrate with the locals. But first, you’ve got to learn how not to be rude while sitting with the Burmese.

So, how do the Burmese eat?

Let's find out about their table manners with experts from Travel Sense Asia.

Main Features Of Burmese Cuisine

The Burmese have a long-standing traditional cuisine. Until now, they still preserve those unique inherited cultures in modern cuisine of the country. Travelling to Myanmar is a great opportunity for you to have hands-on experience in the classical cuisine style of Myanmar people.

Myanmar is located at the intersection of two major cultures, China and India. In the past, the influence of Chinese and Indian culinary cultures was more apparent. As time passed by, the Burmese have adopted the essence of those two nations and turned it into their own identity.

Today, in the era of globalization, Myanmar's cuisine also absorbs all the famous dishes in the world. However, local people still respect and preserve their traditional cuisine. This creates a rich and diverse cuisine culture for Myanmar.

Dining Table Layout

Interestingly, traditional dining tables in Myanmar usually have a uniform height and shape. It is calculated to make it possible for all members to enjoy all the dishes on the table. The shape is round with just a small height. As a result, the native people sit on the floor, a mat or a thin cushion to share the meal.

Characteristics Of Burmese Culinary Techniques

In the beautiful country of Myanmar, the most popular dish is probably fried fish or meat cooked with dried onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, ... Here the most popular is a paste made from either shrimp or fish. Like most of the rest of Asia, rice is the staple food, accounting for 75% of Myanmar meals.

Dishes are not served in courses but to served simultaneously. Each food is stored in a big bowl or plate and each individual will take a small portion to their own dish.

Traditional Myanmar “Utensils”

Normally, the Burmese use their bare hands to pick up food and feed themselves. As a result, they form a habit of cleaning their hands before eating for food hygiene reasons. Local people use the right hand to make a small rice ball with their fingertips only. Then they add other side dishes before popping it into the mouths. You may also have spoons and sometimes chopsticks when you enjoy noodles or salads.

That’s how it happens in a local restaurant or local house.

If you enter a Western-styled restaurant, there might be forks and knives for foreigners. But to be certain, you can bring your preferred utensils in case of eating out.

Dos And Don’ts On The Table


  • Wait until the elderlies of the table start their meal before putting food to your plate.
  • If the older generation doesn’t join the meal, the host of the feat still has to make the first morsel of rice from the pot into a bowl for them as an act of respect.


  • Don’t cough, sneeze or blow your nose when eating. If needed, politely excuse yourself beforehand.
  • Don’t take the sit at the head of the table. It’s usually the position of the eldest person.
  • Water and other liquids are not usually served within the meal. If you feel thirsty, have some soup or broth. The Burmese have a custom of drinking tea or fruit juice only after the meal
  • Don’t use tooth-picks without covering with you’re your mouth with your hand