June 25, 2009

Eat Out Thursday: Mandalay (SF)

by Kayoko

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Sorry this column has been defunct for the past few weeks- honestly, I just haven’t been going out to eat lately! I actually got a job at this Spanish restaurant in Menlo Park, so I’ve been working there five nights a week. My dinner usually just consists of bread and butter that I manage to eat in a dark corner when I can steal a chance at work. Exciting.

But I had the night off last night, so I kidnapped Alice from work and we drove up into San Francisco for a night that was supposed to consist of the French Food Truck. Alas, the truck was nowhere to be found, so we decided on Burmese food in the Richmond. I have been dying to try the ever-famous Burma Superstar, but the line was hella long! My friend Vanessa always talks about Mandalay, this other Burmese place around the corner that she thinks is better, so I called her in NYC to get the info. Thank goodness she picked up her phone- thanks V!

Mandalay is spacious and cozy- the place was full when we walked in but not rowdy at all. I can’t deal with anything sceny these days, so this was perfect.

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Alice is a big fan of Burma Superstar, and the main dish she wanted to compare was the tea leaf salad. The salad consists of: Burmese tea leaves, lentil seeds, grounded shrimps, fried garlic, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, sesame seeds and peanuts. When it came out, all the ingredients were all individually aligned, it was really pretty. Then our server mixed it all together at the table.

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Burmese curry beef. This reminded me more of Japanese curry in color. It was quite light in texture though, which was really nice. This was Alice’s favorite.

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There was a chalkboard of specials outside, and I saw there was coconut lychee prawn, which intrigued me. Honestly I’m not sure that the crisp, cold, sweetness of the lychee went well with the cooked shrimp, but it was worth it to try.

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Burmese Style Noodle (Kaw Soi Dok): egg noodles touted with fried onion, fried garlic chips, cucumber slices, grounded split beans and chef’s delicious dressing. The noodles (I think it was pasta!) were a bit overcooked, but this was quite good. Fried onion AND garlic?? Sign me up!

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The saffron rice was awesome, although I could do without the cubed vegetables.

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At the end of the meal, they brought us a small complimentary dish of mango pudding. Creamy and rich, it was nothing like the jiggly pudding I usually get at dim sum. It was a great way to end the meal.

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Alice ultimately thought that Burma Superstar has more of a variety of dishes on the menu, while Mandalay is more Chinese influenced. I’ll need to go there soon to have a comparison meal of my own!

But come on- does Burma Superstar have a fake neon lit palm tree in the corner of their restaurant??? I bet they don’t.

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MANDALAY

4344 California Street
Between 5th & 6th Avenues
SF, CA
T: 415.386.3896

2 Comments

  • yoko
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:59 am

    Is Burmese food the new thing? I've never had Burmese food before. Maybe I should look for one in Tokyo.

  • kayoko
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:27 am

    It's funny- Burma Superstar has actually been around since 1992! So no, it's not a new thing at all, although I totally have not been exposed to Burmese food until now.

    Doing some background research and there seems to be a particularly large Burmese population in the Bay Area.

    I have to go and try more dishes, but the food is def Thai, China and India-influenced.

    Let me know if you find a Burmese joint in Tokyo!

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