Restaurants in Mandalay – Golden Shan

Get more than your money’s worth of scrumptious Shan food at this popular buffet…

Golden Shan is a very well-known restaurant in Mandalay and a regular haunt for many expats, locals and tourists alike. It has moved to a new location – still on the West side of the moat but on 22nd (Pinya) Street, corner of 90th. As local motorbike and taxi drivers are very familiar with the old venue, make sure to double check they’re headed to the right place. Being lost can be fun, but not while you’re hungry.

Quick Info – Shan People & Food

The Shan are an ethnic group of Southeast Asia. They are mainly based in the state of Myanmar that bears their name; however there are significant populations of Shan people all over the country and neighboring countries of Thailand, Laos and China.

“Just like other ethnic groups within Myanmar, Shan people have their own distinct culture, language, food and dress”

Just like other ethnic groups within Myanmar, Shan people have their own distinct culture, language, food and dress. They have experienced a difficult past when it comes to their relationship with the government; despite these political troubles Shan State has always remained a favored place visit. The area is famed for its hosting of the Balloon Festival in Taunggyi (Taun-gi), hiking in Hsipaw (Si-po) and the breathtaking Inle (In-lay) Lake.

Ah! The hot air balloon is on fire! Oh no, my bad. There’s just fireworks exploding from it (Taunggyi Balloon Festival)

Shan food is an incredibly popular style of cuisine across the entire country – you’d be hard pushed not to find Shan Noodles for breakfast in most towns. General characteristics of Shan food are that it’s full of vegetables, not too spicy, and shares similar flavors to Northern Thai food.

So what’s the deal at Golden Shan?

The Golden Shan is a buffet which offers a literal feast for only 4,000 kyat (less than $3). You pay, head up with your plate, and then gorge on delicious Shan cuisine to your heart’s content. There are usually around 30 dishes on offer at any one time, and thankfully the English-speaking staff are kind enough to help you out if you haven’t quite got your Burmese down yet (so no mystery meat or super spicy curries unless you want it). If you want no meat of any kind then fear not – a lot of Shan food is vegetarian so they have a ton of options.


As with any self-respecting restaurant in Myanmar, there’s cold beer on offer to wash the food down (2,000 kyat), as well soft drinks. Another bonus  – if you haven’t adapted to the sometimes 35°C+ temperature, upstairs has AC. All the dishes are authentic and made onsite by the friendly family that run it, who are incredibly proud of their Shan heritage.

“if you haven’t adapted to the sometimes 35°C+ temperature, upstairs has AC”

There’s a hugely diverse range of food on offer; spicy and mild, veggie and meat. It would be impossible to list them all, but expect to find a variation of the following:


  • Sweet pork (a favorite of mine)
  • Pig intestines (a little spicy for my taste)
  • Spicy pork
  • Pigs leg (excellent)
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Fish curry
  • Chicken curry with mustard seeds (delicious)
  • Chinese-style chicken
  • Fried pork or fish


  • Bamboo curry
  • Egg curry
  • Bean sprouts and tofu
  • Fried, crispy mushrooms (really tasty)
  • Lotus
  • Aubergine
  • Fried Spinach and tomato
  • Okra
  • Chayote  fruit and shoots (a member of the gourd family)
Because one curry is never enough…so 20 will do

The best thing about Golden Shan is actually not its diversity or authenticity; it’s that there’s always someone on hand to guide and explain. Perfect if you’re travelling through or have recently made Mandalay your home.






Top 10 Unusual Fruits from Asia

Fresh and funky fruits you might not know…

Asia is well known for cultivating some amazing, unique and sometimes terrifying fruit. Nowadays we are lucky enough to be able to buy pretty much any kind of fruit, anytime of year, anywhere – so if you see any of these beauties in your local supermarket give them a try! I have included some of the benefits of each fruit as well as the taste in the description.


Perhaps not as unusual as it used to be, but one of my favorites. Although I’m not a huge fan of the white variety (I find it bland) the purple one is exquisite! Not only does it look like  some kind of alien prop from Doctor Who (who doesn’t love their fruit to be fuchsia pink) it’s also sweet without being too sickly. I tend to chop it in two then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. I would describe it as a more interesting kiwi (I apologize kiwi, apparently I have outgrown you). Dragon Fruit, also known as pitaya, is low in calories, contains a ton of vitamins and apparently is even good for treating hair and acne. That being said, I think I will just stick to eating it.

Dragon Fruit – Kiwi’s cooler cousin



From one my favorites to one of my least, unfortunately pomelo isn’t quite to my taste – though it does have an impressive appearance. It’s a ginormous,green sphere and tastes like a hybrid of orange and mild grapefruit. Alas it’s too sour for me, but if you are inclined to tart citrus fruits, this is a winner. To eat this gargantuan produce, nick the skin with a knife then peel. Inside, you will see huge segments with white membrane which in turn you peel off. Pomelo is high in vitamins and fiber, and apparently the mass of skin doesn’t have to be wasted – you can make an exotic marmalade with it!

Pomelo being prepared in the market


Also known as carambola, this fruit doesn’t look like much when intact, but when sliced it lives up to its namesake. Rich in potassium and vitamin C, the entirety of it can be eaten, skin and all, so it’s pretty practical.  Simply slice it into thin(ish) pieces and you’re good to go. It can be sweet or sour, depending on the type you get, and is sometimes added to papaya salad. When it’s sweet, it almost has a floral aroma with a slight sour tang.

Starfruit – sweet and tangy


Although a little daunting to behold, this is one of my most adored fruits – not least because of its versatility. I like them old, young, as chips, in curries….pretty much any which way at any time. I first tried it in Indonesia, mistaking it for meat. Young (unripe) jackfruit is known for having a somewhat meaty texture/taste (I know fruit as a meat replacement, who would have thought it) and I would agree. There is something rich and savory about the flesh – bang it in a curry and even the most discerning carnivore will be happy. When ripened, it becomes sweet and finds it’s place into desserts. Whenever I have brought jackfruit, it’s always been prepared and I would tend to let the professionals handle it, as full grown it’s bigger than my torso. It is super rich in fiber, super adaptable and super delicious.

Jackfruit, for when you want your fruit to be meat



Same color as a tomato. Same shape as a tomato. Related to a tomato. Not a tomato. Persimmons look like big, squat versions – though with more orange hue than red. The flesh of this fruit is comparable in texture to a less ripe mango, and has a slightly similar taste though not as rich. It’s sweet, fresh and light and is great to snack on as you can eat the skin – just make sure it’s ripe. I personally like to slice it into wedges after washing, but you can eat them like an apple or slice them in two depending on your preference.

Persimmon, defiantly not a tomato 


No unusual fruit list would be complete without the so-called King of fruits. The infamous durian.  From the off, its peculiar, spiky shape (reminiscent of a virus under a microscope) isn’t overly appetizing, and of course the assaulting smell that it exudes is notorious – with some hotels in Asia simply banning it. My school was next to a durian stand and I never got used to it. After being cut into half with a machete for you (or you can buy it pre-packed) you can scoop out the soft flesh, which has an odd, creamy consistency – sometimes compared to soft cheese. I know, I know, I’m not selling it, however it’s an acquired taste and I know people who love it. I can’t even eat things like ice-cream flavored with it, though I have been partial to a durian chip every now and again. It’s also rich in potassium, fiber, iron and vitamin C. Though for me, that doesn’t make up for the smell.

Not the most appetizing looking food




When rambutan season hits, the sides of the streets are flooded with overflowing boxes of this bright, delicious fruit. It wouldn’t look amiss in a Jim Henson dark crystal-esque film, with it’s bright color and odd, hair-like casing (rambut means hair in Indonesian). They’re in the same family as lychees, and I find them less sticky though similar in taste. You can easily peel the thick skin to reveal the tasty white flesh with a large black seed in the center. Rambutan are also a good aid to digestion and taste great in juices.

Rambutan, furry but fresh


Much as rambutan, longon fruit is closely related to the lychee. It however doesn’t look quite as appetizing, with a woody, sand-colored shell. Inside is a similar delicious white flesh that isn’t as sour as lychee, but is still sweet. You can usually buy a bunch of them, still on the thin branch they have grown on. There is a certain knack to popping them open that I haven’t quite mastered. I just squeeze and then peel which seems to do the job. The center of the fruit holds a shiny black seed which gives it the appearance of an eyeball, hence it’s Chinese name ‘dragon eye’.

Bunches of longan fruit next to mangosteen


This conical little guy is sweet and creamy (hence it’s alias – custard apple) and is perfect for desserts and to flavor ice-creams. Sugar-apples are high in energy and very tasty; though they’re so sweet I can never eat more than one. When ripe they should easily open, with the tortoise shell-like casing falling away. Inside, you will see white clove-like creamy segments with black seeds. The flesh can look a little gooey/strange but the taste is great.

Sugar-apple to the left of me, avocado to the right


Finishing with one of the best, just pull of the green top to peel the tough purple skin away. Inside hides striking white segments, larger than garlic cloves, dripping with sweet juice. It tastes more like a berry than the majority of Asian fruits I have tasted – super sweet and juicy though still mild and not sickly. They are ideal for a sweet snack or dessert, and you can have a few due to their small size.  Just as durian is the king of fruits, mangosteen is deemed the queen, so even if you can only try it tinned I would give it a go.


Mangosteen, the queen of fruits


Thanks for reading, and let me know I missed any of your favorite exotic fruits. Next time we are headed to try street food at the market, which didn’t disappoint.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau