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Breakfast and a snack in Mae Hong Son

Posted date:  June 2, 2008

A Burmese soy bean-based breakfast dish, Mae Hong Son

Besides some great lunch and dinner places in and around Mae Hong Son (one more of which I’ll profile soon), there’s also some interesting stuff to be had at breakfast and in the evenings. In the mornings, the city’s market is by far the best place to fuel up:

Breakfast at Mae Hong Song's morning market

There you’ll find several basic stalls selling everything from generic Thai breakfasts such as rice porridge to local Shan specialties such as khanom jeen naam ngiaw, fresh rice noodles served with a light pork broth. Amongst the same knot of vendors as the latter, you’ll also find the dish pictured at the top of this post, an odd combination of a type of solidified soy bean paste and deep-fried tofu that the locals told me is a relatively new introduction from Burma. It’s made by slicing hearty chunks of the bean ‘pudding’:

Slicing a soy bean-based breakfast at Mae Hong Son's morning market

and chunks of deep-fried tofu, and topping the whole lot with garlic oil, deep fried crispy garlic, tamarind juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, MSG, sesame seeds and dried chilies. A little odd, but actually not that bad. Things get really weird when the hot liquid soy bean stuff is poured over fresh rice noodles, resulting in a gooey, stringy mixture.

Every evening a market sets up directly in front of Wat Chong Kham:

Wat Jong Kham, Mae Hong Son

During the tourist season, there are several vendors selling everything from som tam to local sweets. We arrived during the off season when there’s a lot less for sale, although you can still find a couple people selling khang pong, a Shan dish of fried papaya fritters, generously spiced with chili and dried turmeric:

Making khang pong, Shan-style papaya fritters, for sale in Mae Hong Son

As well as a few vendors selling the previously-mentioned khanom jeen and Shan-style khao soi.

Update: Flickr user meemalee claims that the tofu-like ingredient mentioned above is made from gram, not soybean flour. She provides a link to this Wikipedia entry, which provides all the details. Thanks, meemalee!

6 Comments for Breakfast and a snack in Mae Hong Son

Hi Austin,

I’ve been twice, but never seen khang pong–look delicious though.

Yeah – how nice to see Shan tofu!

I’ve a video of the various ways this tofu is eaten here:


looks amazing

[…] in Burma: calendars with Burmese pop stars, pickled tea leaves and packets of herbal medicines. And breakfast at the market is always one of the weirdest and most satisfying in the […]

[…] another visit, I got to spend some time helping Andy and his staff improve their take on khang pong, Mae Hong Son-style fritters of green papaya, lemongrass, dried chili and […]

[…] The vendors in Mae Hong Son’s morning market sell a variety of dishes using chickpea flour. In one, known as thua oon, ‘warm beans,’ the flour is boiled with water, and the thick, yellow, gelatinous liquid is served over noodles. In another version, the flour and water mixture are allowed to set until firm enough to cut into slices which are eaten in the form a spicy salad. […]

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