Chin star burmese restaurant

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Burma Superstar Owner Desmond Tan Talks About Childhood in Burma, His New Cookbook + More

Over the past two decades, San Franciscans have established a permanent line on the south side of Clement between 4th and 5th Avenues. They sip tea and swap stories as they wait for a coveted table and a plate of laphet thoke (tea leaf salad) or a bowl of oh noh kauswer (coconut chicken noodle soup).

These exotic entrees were made popular by Desmond Tan, whose Burma Superstar garnered a cultish following after he and partner Joycelyn Lee took over the then eight-year-old business in As of March this year, Tan has finally published a cookbook, with the help of coauthor Kate Leahy: Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia (Ten Speed Press) and is giving fans access to the secret (and yes, addictive) recipes that have been bringing foodies to the Inner Richmond (as well as two East Bay locations) in droves.


Born in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Myanmar's largest city, Tan came to SF's Richmond District at age Here, In his first-ever interview with an American publication, the chef shares his experience as "fresh-off-the-boat immigrant," cultural advocate, and employer of refugees. He also tells a few of the tales behind his restaurant's key recipes, some of which you can make for yourself at a four-hour Cook by the Book class ($; tickets still available), which will be hosted by Leahy at San Francisco Cooking School on Wednesday, May 3.

7x7: In the intro to your cookbook, you talk a bit about growing up in Burma. What was childhood like there?

Desmond Tan: To grow up here [in the U.S.], you need money. You need accessories. But growing up in Burma, there were no material items. There was nothing to do other than play soccer, chase each other, and climb trees. You'd throw rocks on tin roofs and make a bunch of noise. And nobody migrated, so you knew everybody. It was a community. It was tight. But I think now people are seeing things differently. The Burmese are migrating like they've never migrated in the past.

Tell us about immigrating to San Francisco.

Immigration was kind of new for Asians in the '70s. In those days, people didn't speak English. They were poor. They ate different things and dressed differently. Because of that, you got picked on persistently, even by other immigrants. I was called "fob" (fresh off the boat) all the time.

What are your early memories of eating at Burma Superstar, before you took it over?

It was a solid place. They served good, affordable food and it resonated with my family because there wasn't a lot of Burmese food in the city. It reminded me of home, and was the closest to my mom's cooking of anything that I was aware of.

After buying the restaurant in , you kept the name despite political controversy over how to refer to the country. Why?

Burma is a colonized name, but I was born way after the colonization, so I just know Burma as Burma. The name Myanmar [came about] in the late '80s because of the new government, but it didn't make a difference to me.

You work with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to hire refugees.

Nine years ago, the IRC contacted us. They had a lot of Burmese refugees and they wondered if we'd be interested in hiring them, and I said sure. I learned a lot about refugees and immigrants from that experience, including the relationships between different ethnic minorities (there are more than ). Afoo was our first hire. He didn't know anything and now he's our kitchen manager at Burma Love. The Chin corn soup recipe came from him.

How many Burmese people would you estimate have worked in your restaurants?

Hundreds. Practically the whole kitchen is Burmese. At Burma Love, we have a whole family working there. It's a mix of refugees and immigrants with really diverse backgrounds.

Eating at Burma Superstar can be an educational experience. You're kind of an ambassador for Burmese culture.

When we started the restaurant, literally no one knew Burma—they'd ask where it was. They'd ask what Burmese food was like and we'd tell them the country borders three areas (India, Thailand, and China) where they have really fantastic cuisine. So we have a lot of influence from those places, but at the same time there are a lot of flavors and dishes that are unique to Burma. We began to realize that, while a lot of these people had never been to Burma, they'd keep coming back to the restaurant and were getting educated about Burma through food.

Why do you think your restaurant has been so successful in SF?

Food is interesting. It's a basic thing to a lot of people, but also a daily activity. When a restaurant wants to be successful, they try to develop good food, a good environment, and good service. Maybe a third make it and, of those, maybe 15 percent really thrive. I think we got lucky because we introduced a fourth element, which was "edu-tainment," entertainment through educating people about Burma. Take the tea leaf salad, for example. We started by serving it already prepared and then we'd get all of these questions about what was in it. So we decided to separate it, explain all of the ingredients, and then mix it at the table.

Which entrees in the book best reflect the culture and people of Burma?

Mohinga, which is catfish chowder; oh noh kauswer, which is coconut noodle soup; tea leaf salad; the curries; and rice—you've gotta eat rice.

What's your personal favorite dish?

I always like mohinga because that's something that I group up with. It's my daughter's favorite dish, too.

What will readers find most surprising?

The story of the tea leaf salad and where the fermented tea leaf comes from. We didn't find any stories that were written down in English. It's an interesting little journey.

What are your hopes for the cookbook?

I don't think a lot of [ethnic] restaurants do the best that they can, and so they don't represent their cuisine, their country, or their people well. I'm beginning to feel some responsibility when people have heard about Burma because of Burma Superstar. That's a part of why we try do the restaurant right, because I am from Burma and I'm proud of being Burmese. I want people to see Burma in a positive way, and I think the book is an excellent way of doing that.

// Cook the Book, Wednesday May 3, at San Francisco Cooking School, Van Ness Ave. (Tenderloin); tickets are $ at sfcooking.com.

See what it is about Myanmar that so inspires Desmond Tan in these magical photos taken by SF photographer John Lee, on location for the Burma Superstar cookbook:

Sours: https://www.7x7.com/burma-superstar-comes-to-your-kitchenhtml

An introduction to Burmese cuisine

Mohinga is our national dish – a fragrant fish, lemongrass and rice noodle soup usually eaten for breakfast. It’s heaped with crispy split-pea fritters, slices of soft duck egg and bouncy fishcake, then scattered with roasted chilli flakes and shredded coriander leaves. Served with lime or lemon wedges to squeeze on top, it’s a perfect, balanced start to the day. Few people actually make mohinga at home, as there are countless street vendors and cafés vying for business, and everyone has their favourite.

Nan Gyi Thoke (also known as Mandalay Mont Di)is a hearty, warm salad of fat rice noodles, chicken or beef curry, chilli oil, toasted chickpea powder, coriander and sliced shallots.

Lahpet Thoke is probably our most iconic dish– made with pickled tea leaves (lahpet) mixed with crunchy nuts and beans, dried shrimp, sliced tomato and shredded white cabbage to create a piquant and savoury salad, bursting with flavour and textures. This is served at the end of most meals, but is also eaten as a snack or dished out when visitors come round.

Sours: https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/features/burmese-food-cuisine-introduction
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Menu

  • Burmese Samusas

    Vegetable | Chicken | Lamb
    Four handmade pastries filled with curried potatoes, mint, masala spices and green peas. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with our spicy & tangy house red sauce.
    12 | 13 | 14

  • Salt and Pepper Chicken or Calamari

    Lightly battered and fried, served with jalapeños and scallions.
    |

  • Platha & Dip

    Chicken
    Known as “thousand layer bread” for its crispy, chewy, buttery layers. Lovingly handmade. Served with a coconut chicken dip.

    $14

  • Homemade Yellow Bean Tofu

    Our homemade tofu made from roasted yellow beans. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, drizzled with a sweet and spicy soy dressing.
    Vegan

    $

  • Skillet Shrimp

    Sizzling shrimp with garlic, ginger, turmeric, lime and chilies.
    Gluten Free

    $

Noodle Soups | Samusa Soup

  • Mohinga

    Catfish Chowder Noodle Soup
    “The national dish of Burma,” Mohinga is a thick, slow-cooked soup of ground catfish, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and fish sauce. Garnished with cilantro, fresh onions, hard-boiled egg, fried split pea fritter and lemon. Not for timid taste buds!
    Gluten Free

    $

  • OHN NO KHAO SWE

    Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup
    This Burmese classic is one of the most popular comfort foods in Myanmar, found in restaurants and food stalls throughout the country. Chicken slow-cooked with coconut milk, turmeric, onions, and garlic. Garnished with flour noodles, cilantro, fresh onions, hard-boiled egg, chili and lemon.
    Gluten Free Upon Request

    $

  • SAMUSA SOUP

    Drawing influence from Indian cuisine, Samusa Soup is a hearty Burmese soup in a tangy tamarind broth that combines vegetarian samusas, falafels, lentils, cabbage, onions and garlic.
    Vegan

    $

  • Laphet Thoke

    Tea Leaf Salad
    Tea Leaf Salad Our Tea Leaf Salad was voted by Sunset Magazine as the Best of the West-Salad and winner of the "Good Food Award" in Mixed table-side, this salad/appetizer is enjoyed by Burmese people throughout the country. It is a fermented tea leaf dish tossed with a crispy mixture of nuts, beans, and garlic with lettuce. It is truly "a party in your mouth" and it will change your mind about what salad can be.
    Vegetarian (Vegan Upon Request), Gluten Free

    $16

  • RAINBOW SALAD

    Served Traditional or Vegan, this salad has 22 ingredients! Here are some of the ingredients: tofu, noodles, fried garlic, fried onions, chickpeas, green papaya, and much more. All mixed with a tamarind vinaigrette dressing.
    Gluten Free upon request

    $

  • MANGO SALAD

    A sweet and refreshing salad of tart, pickled mangoes, shredded cabbage, fried onions, roasted chickpea flour and cucumbers. Mixed table-side. Add organic pickled ginger for $1.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • BURMESE STYLE CHICKEN SALAD

    Tossed with lightly fried chicken breast, fried onions, cilantro, garlic, shredded tomato, yellow bean powder, and tamarind dressing.
    Gluten Free upon request

    $

  • SAMUSA SALAD

    Vegetarian homemade samosas with cabbage, cucumber, mint, onion, and cilantro.
    Vegan

    $

  • GINGER SALAD

    Cabbage tossed with pickled ginger, fried garlic, sesame seeds, and split yellow peas.
    Vegan Upon Request, Gluten Free

    $

  • PORK CURRY WITH POTATOES

    Our signature red curry with tender pork, pickled mango and potatoes. Mild and extra spicy available upon request. Add string beans for $2.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • PUMPKIN PORK STEW

    A rich and homy stew of kabocha squash, tender pork, ginger, turmeric, onions and garlic.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • PORK BELLY WITH MUSTARD GREENS

    Tender pork belly tossed with pickled mustard greens, Thai chilies and ginger. A Burma Superstar family recipe - spicy, sour, sweet, and savory. Mild and extra spicy available upon request.
    Gluten Free Upon Request

    $

  • GINGER CHILI PORK

    Tender pork belly, tossed with garlic, ginger, Thai chilies, soy sauce, rice wine and green onions. Mild and extra spicy available upon request.
    Gluten Free Upon Request

    $

BEEF | LAMB

ANGUS BEEF | GRASS FED LAMB
  • BURMESE STYLE BEEF OR LAMB

    Our signature red curry in your choice of Angus beef or grass-fed lamb. Mild and extra spicy available upon request. Add string beans for $2. Lamb contains dairy.
    Gluten Free
    22 | 23

  • CHILI BEEF OR LAMB

    Strips of beef or lamb wok-tossed with Sichuan chilies, onions, rice wine and Thai basil. Can be made mild or extra spicy upon request.
    Gluten Free
    22 | 23

  • STEAK OR LAMB KEBAT

    Traditional Burmese stir-fry of beef or lamb with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, turmeric, mint and cilantro. Mild or extra spicy available upon request.
    Gluten Free
    22 | 23

  • FIERY BEEF OR LAMB WITH HODO TOFU

    Wok-tossed beef or lamb with Hodo Foods organic tofu, red bell peppers, oyster sauce and Thai basil in our five spice "sweet heat" sauce.
    Gluten Free
    22 | 23

  • SESAME BEEF

    Lightly battered strips of beef tossed with sesame seeds in a sweet, tangy sauce topped with scallions.
    Gluten Free

    $22

  • CHICKEN CURRY WITH POTATOES

    Our specialty red curry with chicken thighs, pickled mango and potatoes. Mild or extra spicy available upon request. Add string beans for $2.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • PUMPKIN CHICKEN STEW

    A rich, homey stew of chicken thighs, tender kabocha squash, ginger, turmeric, onions, and garlic.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY

    Chicken thighs simmered in an aromatic stew of coconut milk, turmeric, Thai basil, string beans, and chili. Mild or extra spicy upon request.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • CHICKEN KEBAT

    Wok-tossed chicken with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, turmeric, mint, and cilantro. Can be made mild or extra spicy upon request.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • CHICKEN WITH FRESH MINT

    Street food found at the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Minced chicken with diced jalapeños, chopped mint, cilantro, and whole garlic cloves.

    $

  • MANGO CHICKEN

    Wok-tossed chicken cooked with mangoes, onions, oyster sauce, Thai basil and Sichuan chilies.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • SESAME CHICKEN

    Lightly battered strips of chicken tossed with sesame seeds in a sweet & tangy sauce and topped with scallions.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • FIERY CHICKEN WITH HODO TOFU

    Wok-tossed chicken with Hodo Foods organic tofu, string beans, red bell peppers, oyster sauce and Thai basil in our five spice “sweet heat” sauce.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • SPICY AND CRISPY CHICKEN

    Battered chicken chunks tossed in a sweet & spicy garlic-chili sauce and topped with scallions.

    $

  • Shan Noodles with Hodo Tofu

    Rice noodles in a spicy tomato sauce mixed with pickled mustard greens, ground peanuts, fresh cilantro and fried Hodo Soy organic tofu. Regional cuisine from Eastern Myanmar’s Shan State.

    $16

  • Nan Gyi Dok

    Flour noodles with coconut chicken curry, roasted chickpea flour, hard-boiled egg, cabbage, wontons, turmeric, chili and fried onions.

    $17

  • SUPERSTAR VEGETARIAN NOODLES

    Traditional Burmese flour noodles mixed with potatoes, cucumbers, tofu, chili sauce, cabbage, and cilantro. Served cold.
    Vegetarian

    $16

  • GARLIC NOODLES

    Hodo Foods Organic Tofu | Chicken (Halal) I Pork Belly I Shrimp
    A Chinese influenced dish sold from pushcarts throughout Burma. Egg noodles with fried garlic, sprinkled with scallions, fresh onions, cucumbers, and our house sweet and spicy sauce.
    $16 | $17 | $17 | $18

  • SPICY NOODLES

    Hodo Foods Organic Tofu I Chicken I Shrimp
    Wok tossed rice noodles in a sweet and spicy tangy sauce with tender pea shoots, red bell peppers, scrambled egg, shredded cabbage, and crushed peanuts. Contains fish sauce.
    Gluten Free
    $17 | $17 | $19

  • SUPERSTAR VEGETARIAN FRIED RICE

    Made with brown rice, tender snow pea leaves, carrots, pine nuts, and garlic. Simple, healthy and delicious.
    Add scrambled egg for $2.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $15

  • COCONUT RICE

    Jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • JASMINE RICE

    Steamed Jasmine Rice
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • BROWN RICE

    Steamed brown rice
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • Platha

    Buttery, multi-layered, pan-fried bread cut into individual pieces.
    Vegetarian

    $

  • SHRIMP & EGGPLANT WITH GARLIC SAUCE

    Shrimp and tender eggplant sautéed with a garlic & chili sauce, topped with scallions.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • GARLIC & CHILI SHRIMP

    Wok tossed with garlic-infused oil with jalapenos, onions and topped with fried garlic chips. Perfect for our garlic lovers.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • SUPERSTAR SHRIMP

    Shrimp and onions wok-tossed with a sweet soy & chili garlic glaze.

    $

  • MANGO SHRIMP

    Wok tossed shrimp with mangoes, onions, oyster sauce, Thai basil and Sichuan chilies.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • WALNUT SHRIMP

    Lightly battered fried wok-tossed with a sweet cream sauce. Topped with roasted candied walnuts, sesame seeds, and cilantro sprigs. Contains dairy.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • CHIN BAUNG KYAW

    Sour Leaf Shrimp
    Seasonal. Hibiscus leaves stir-fried with fresh, minced shrimp and spicy Burmese shrimp paste, onions, garlic and spices. A Burmese classic. Not for timid taste buds!
    Gluten Free

    $

  • BURMESE STYLE SEAFOOD CURRY

    Catfish | Shrimp (Gluten Free)
    Our specialty red curry in your choice of shrimp or bone-in catfish. Mild or extra spicy available upon request.
    22 |

  • FRIED CHILI CATFISH

    Traditional, bone-in chunks of crispy catfish, tossed in fried garlic, fried onions, and chili flakes.

    $

  • LEMONGRASS SALMON

    Fried salmon topped with Thai basil, chili, lemongrass, snap peas, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • EGG CURRY WITH OKRA

    Burmese style red curry served with hard boiled-eggs, okra, tomato, and jalapeño.
    Gluten Free

    $

  • EGGPLANT CURRY

    Burmese style red curry with tender eggplant and jalapeños. Mild or extra spicy available upon request. Add Hodo Foods Organic Tofu or Halal Chicken for $3.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • MIXED VEGETABLE CURRY

    Red curry with Hodo Foods organic tofu, tomatoes, eggplant, potato, carrot, broccoli, chayote, string beans, mint, cilantro, and jalapeños. Mild or extra spicy available upon request.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • HODO TOFU VEGETABLE KEBAT

    Traditional Burmese curried stir-fry of Hodo Foods organic tofu, onion, tomato, chayote, carrot, mint, turmeric, jalapeño, and cilantro.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $

  • PEA SHOOTS

    Young tender snow pea leaves stir-fried with rice wine and garlic. Topped with fried minced garlic. Pairs well with any of our entrées.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $16

  • SESAME TOFU

    Lightly battered tofu cubes tossed with sesame seeds in a sweet, tangy sauce, topped with scallions.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $16

  • WOK-TOSSED BROCCOLI

    Broccoli florets stir-fried with rice wine, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Topped with fried onions. A simple and delicious side. Add Hodo Foods Organic Tofu or Halal Chicken for $3
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $16

  • MANGO HODO TOFU

    Hodo Foods organic tofu wok-tossed with mangoes, onions, oyster sauce, Thai basil and Sichuan chilies.
    Gluten Free

    $18

  • DRY-FRIED STRING BEANS

    Sichuan-style string beans wok-tossed with a garlic & chili sauce. Add Hodo Foods organic tofu or Halal Chicken for $3.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $16

  • EGGPLANT WITH GARLIC SAUCE

    Tender eggplant sauteed with a garlic & chili sauce, topped with scallions. Add Hodo Foods organic tofu or Halal Chicken for $3.
    Vegan, Gluten Free

    $17

  • FIERY HODO TOFU

    Hodo Foods organic tofu wok-tossed with basil, string beans, and red bell pepper. Contains oyster sauce.
    Gluten Free

    $19

  • Rangoon Mule

    Bourbon, Ginger, Mint, Lime, Palm Syrup, Pilsner, Angostura

    $13

  • Zedi

    Rye, Turmeric Ginger Chai, Honey, Lemon, Cardamom, Curry Bitters

    $13

  • Mae Sai Iced Tea

    Dark Rum, Thai Iced Tea, Angostura, Bourbon, Cream

    $13

  • Burmese Python

    Mezcal, Lemon, Thai Chili-Lemongrass Syrup, Ginger, Angostura, Scotch

    $14

  • Tamarita

    Tequila, Tamarind, Lime, Cointreau, Agave, Tajín

    $14

  • Queen Victoria

    London Gin, Burma Tonic, Galangal Bitters, Lime

    $13

  • King Louie

    Tanduay Double Rum, Giffard Banane du Brésil, House Ceylon Bitters

    $16

  • Temescal

    Gin, Ginger, Cucumber, Lime, Palm Syrup, Tonic Water, St.George Absinthe Verte

    $14

  • Annabella Pinot Noir

    Russian River Valley, CA
    Bright cherry, Rose Petals, Earthy
    11 | 44

  • Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

    Sonoma, CA
    Plum, cassis, tobacco
    11 | 44

  • Navarro Zinfandel

    Mendocino, CA
    Pomegranate, spice, raspberry
    12 | 48

  • Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve

    San Juan, Argentina
    Ripe, earthy, blackberry
    9 | 36

  • Hahn Family Wines Pinot Gris

    Monterey, CA
    Silky, tart pear, meyer lemon
    9 | 36

  • Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc-Viognier

    Clarksburg, CA
    Fresh, aromatic, tropical fruit
    9 | 36

  • Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer

    Sonoma Coast, CA
    Lush, dry, lychee
    10 | 40

  • Seaglass Riesling

    Santa Barbara, CA
    Off-dry, ripe peach, good acidity
    9 | 36

  • Yalumba Sauvignon Blanc

    South Australia
    Fresh, tangy, grapefruit
    9 | 36

  • Navarro Chardonnay

    Mendocino, CA
    Crisp, buttery, Asian pear
    12 | 48

  • Le Dolci Colline Prosecco Brut

    Veneto, Italy
    Fresh, zesty, green apple
    8 | 32

  • Navarro Rosé of Pinot Noir

    Mendocino, CA
    Dry, tropical fruit, spring herbs
    14 | 56

  • Luc Belaire Luxe Rosé

    Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
    Rich, sparkling, strawberry
    48 BTL

SAKE

Brewed in Berkeley, CA
  • Sho Chiku Bai Junmai

    Served warm.
    5 oz: 9 | 9oz: 14

  • Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake

    Served chilled.
    10 oz: 13

  • Sho Chiku Bai Organic Nama

    Served chilled.
    10 oz: 16

  • Burma Cooler

    Burma Ale, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Juice and Honey
    11 glass | 30 pitcher
    Non-Alcoholic 7 | 18

  • Superstar Daiquiri

    Coconut | Mango Tamarind
    Tanduay Rum, Lime Juice, Palm Syrup, and your choice of Coconut Water & Coconut Milk or Mango & Tamarind
    11 glass | 30 pitcher

  • Seasonal Sangria

    Spanish Wine, Tanduay Rum, Lillet, Seasonal Fruit, Fresh Herbs
    11 glass | 28 pitcher

  • House “Burma Ale”

    % ABV. Unfiltered wheat beer brewed with lemongrass, coriander and orange peel
    Ale Industries, Fruitvale, CA
    16oz: 8 | 39oz: 20

  • Bo Pils, Berkeley

    5% ABV. Richmond, CA
    16oz: 7 | 39oz: 18

  • Almanac “Love Hazy” IPA

    % ABV. Alameda, CA
    16oz: 9 | 39oz: 20

  • Tropical Adventure

    % ABV. Sour with pink guava, strawberry, and blood orange
    Fruitvale, CA
    16oz: 8 | 39oz: 20

  • Singha Lager, Thailand

    5% ABV
    12oz: 6

  • Erdinger Weissbier (Non-Alcoholic)

  • Heirloom Applewine Cider

    % ABV
    ml: 15

  • Fresh Ginger Lemonade

    $

  • Mango Tamarind Spritzer

    $6

  • Mango Lassi

    $5

  • Ginger Coke or Ginger Diet Coke

    $

  • Jackfruit Sprite

    $

  • Cane Coke 12oz

    $4

  • Topo Chico

    ml: 4 | ml: 8

  • Ginger Wellness Shot

    Freshly squeezed ginger juice with a splash of lemon juice served in a 2-ounce glass bottle.

    $5

  • Imperial Tea Court’s Master Select Series

    Burma Love Blend - A blend of premium teas inspired by Burma's exquisite flavors. Robust, hardy, and energizing.
    Gen Mai Cha- Premium Japanese sencha blended with roasted brown rice. Warm, toasty and nutty.
    Yin Hao Jasmine - Silver tipped green tea scented with fresh jasmine flowers. Fresh, light and aromatic.

    $

  • Traditional Burmese Milk Tea

    Rich, slow-brewed Assam tea with evaporated and condensed milk
    Served hot or iced.

    $

  • Fresh Ginger Honey Tea

    $

  • Thai Iced Tea

    $5

  • Tamarita

    Tequila, Tamarind Puree , Lime Juice, Cointreau & Palm Syrup

    $14

  • Mae Sai Iced Tea

    Tanduay Dark Rum, Bourbon, Thai Iced Tea, Angostura, & Cream

    $13

  • Ginger Lemondrop

    Hangar 1 Vodka, Lemon, Ginger & Palm Syrup

    $13

  • Mango Tamarind Daiquiri

    Tanduay Silver Rum, Lime Juice, Palm Syrup, Mango & Tamarind Puree

    $11

  • Leese- Fitch Pinot Noir

    Sonoma, Ca
    Black raspberry, caramel oak, toasted coconut
    10 | 40

  • Substance Cabernet Sauvignon

    Sonoma, CA
    Black cherry, blueberry, tobacco
    11 | 44

  • Seghesio Zinfandel

    Mendocino, CA
    Cherry, cedar, fresh licorice
    -- | 48

  • Pratsch Grüner Veltliner

    Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic
    Organic grapes, apple, peach and apricot

    8 | 32

  • Kung Fu Riesling

    Santa Barbara, CA
    Citrus blossom, lychee, and fresh lime
    8 | 32

  • Yalumba Sauvignon Blanc

    South Australia
    Fresh, tangy, and grapefruit
    9 | 36

  • Forager Chardonnay

    Willametter, CA
    Crisp, buttery and Asian pear
    12 | 44

  • Le Charmel Rosé

    Provence, France
    Bright, berry, and rose petals
    9 | 36

  • Gran Passione Prosecco

    Veneto, Italy
    Green apple, peach, and lilac
    8 | 32

  • Burma Cooler

    Burma Ale, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Juice and Palm Syrup
    11 glass | 30 pitcher

  • Seasonal Sangria

    Spanish Wine, Tanduay Rum, Lillet, Seasonal Fruit, Fresh Herbs
    11 glass | 28 pitcher

  • Mimosa

    Lemon Zinger | Mango | Lychee
    Your choice of fresh juices or puree mixed with our house prosecco, Gran Passione
    8 glass

  • House “Burma Ale”

    % ABV. Unfiltered wheat beer brewed with lemongrass, coriander and orange peel
    Ale Industries, Fruitvale, CA
    16oz: 8 | 39oz: 20

  • Almanac “Love Hazy” IPA

    % ABV. Alameda, CA
    16oz: 9 | 39oz: 20

  • Singha Lager, Thailand (bottled)

    5% ABV
    12oz: 6

  • Fresh Ginger Lemonade

    $5

  • Mango Tamarind Spritzer

    $6

  • Mango Lassi

    $5

  • Bottled Sprite or Cane Coke

    $4

  • Diet Coke (8oz)

    $3

  • Perrier Sparkling Water (11oz)

    $

  • Q's Ginger Beer

    $

  • Fresh Young Coconut

    $6

  • Imperial Tea Court’s Master Select Series

    Burma Love Blend - A blend of premium teas inspired by Burma's exquisite flavors. Robust, hardy, and energizing.
    Yin Hao Jasmine - Silver tipped green tea scented with fresh jasmine flowers. Fresh, light and aromatic.

    $

  • Traditional Burmese Milk Tea

    Rich, slow-brewed Assam tea with evaporated and condensed milk
    Served hot or iced.

    $

  • Fresh Ginger Honey Tea

    $5

  • Thai Iced Tea

    $5

  • Iced Black Tea (unsweetened)

    $4

  • Jasmine & Honey Iced Tea

    $4

Sours: https://www.burmasuperstar.co/menu/

The Bay Area's Burmese food boom

A decade ago, it would be hard to imagine this level of excitement for a cuisine that barely registers in New York or Chicago. After quietly sustaining itself in a few local cities for decades, this year Burmese cuisine has taken to the road: To San Rafael. To Corte Madera. To San Ramon, Santa Clara and Millbrae. In December , contributors to the food website Chowhound counted 28 Bay Area Burmese restaurants — and that was a good five or six locations ago.

Since the coup d’etat that installed a military junta in Burma (Myanmar) led to many Burmese immigrating to the Bay Area, the local Burmese community now numbers in the tens of thousands, one of the largest in the nation.

The boom owes its existence to a few early arrivals who introduced the broader public to Burmese food in the early s, and then to the viral, if unexpected, success of Burma Superstar in the s. California’s Burmese cuisine is so dynamic and fast evolving that the food Melanie H. and Tyrone V. are thrilled to eat may not bear much resemblance to what cooks make in Burma or what some new restaurateurs are preparing.

In short: If you think you know what tea leaf salad tastes like, you haven’t been eating around.

'Where’s Burma?’

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When Philip and Nancy Chu opened Nan Yang in Oakland Chinatown in , it might have been the first full-fledged Burmese restaurant in the Bay Area, if not the West Coast.

“I had people coming peeking through the window, looking at the place,” Philip Chu remembers 32 years later, in his early 80s. “Burma — where’s Burma? Then they walked away. Sometimes I had only one customer all night long.”

Yet Chu felt called to continue cooking the food of his home country — by a lifelong love of beauty, he says. He had grown up in the former capital city of Rangoon, a member of the middle-class Chinese community, and that same love had caused him to reject a scholarship to study nuclear physics in order to pursue architecture.

His work as an architect, for a member of the junta who was then ousted for his support of democracy, landed Chu in prison for 2½ years. He and his wife and children were allowed to leave Burma in on two conditions: They could never return, and they had to leave immediately, taking only $7 each with them. “I could not even tip the porter at the San Francisco airport when we arrived,” Chu says.

The Chus were among the scores of Chinese Burmese who trickled into the country in the late s, driven away by anti-Chinese riots and anti-intellectual persecution. Educated people with a skill, explains Myanmar Community USA Director Felix Chin, were readily given visas; others had to find a relative or a sponsor. Anyone with ties to the Bay Area’s Chinese community tapped them. Many new arrivals found support — jobs, English lessons, housing — from Chinatown immigrant groups.

Chu alternated between architecture work and restaurants — one a hofbrau renowned for its roast turkey — before he and Nancy opened Nan Yang. Sharing cooking duties, the two split the menu between Burmese and Chinese dishes. They inspired friends in the Burmese-Chinese community, Wayne and Tammy Lee, to open Mandalay in San Francisco's Richmond District six months later, where the Lees served a similar mix.

Yet both restaurants languished, Chu admits. Despite their resolve, the Chus began to fret that they’d made a mistake. Then, in , San Francisco Chronicle critic Stan Sesser reviewed Nan Yang, gushing over the ginger salad and coconut-chicken noodles. Chu ran out of most dishes by 8 p.m., despite preparing more food than he ever had after Sesser warned him a couple days in advance.

An era of hour-long waits had begun.

Most of the subsequent writers who came to the restaurant described Burmese food as the midpoint of Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines, with mild curries, hearty soups and thrilling salads. Chu says that he refused to compromise on his recipes for American tastes. Yet there was one dish he declined to serve, thinking it too off-putting for outsiders, until a food writer who had read about the Burmese practice of fermenting tea leaves in buried containers requested a tea leaf salad.

Chu mixed one up, using leaves imported by a tiny market in Los Angeles and pulses and seeds he painstakingly soaked, roasted and fried. Other customers found out about the dish. Within a few years, tea leaf salad had surpassed ginger salad in popularity.

Nan Yang opened a second location on Rockridge in , closing the original location a few years later and retiring from the restaurant business in Across the bay, Mandalay sputtered along until , when its original owner sold to a family friend, a more talented cook.

Superstar saviors

Around the same time, Burma Superstar’s current owners Joycelyn Lee and partner Desmond Htunlin got into the restaurant business because they couldn’t imagine parting with their favorite place.

Languishing on a slow block of Clement Street, Burma Superstar was not much to look at in , with beer signs for atmosphere, a dining room gazebo consumed by plastic ivy and a near-perennially empty dining room. The owners had opened the restaurant in , but nine years in, they were exhausted and ready to sell.

Htunlin is Burmese-Chinese and Lee is Filipino-Chinese, so the two regular customers, then in their late 20s, were well acquainted with the cuisine. Lee says she remembers thinking. “If they close, where would we eat Burmese food? Burmese food is a lot of work.”

Their decision to sustain the restaurant — one of the owners stayed on as a waiter — took on new urgency one month later when Lee lost her graphic design job in the dot-com crash. Suddenly, she realized, “I have a lot of people working in the kitchen, and how are we going to pay them? So I started to do anything and everything to help it grow.”

Htunlin and Lee gradually took down the beer signs and replaced them with photographs. They removed the gazebo and the ugly wood paneling. They touched up the menu based on suggestions from the Burma-born cooks and waiters. There was a cold noodle dish, for instance, with 20 ingredients that Lee loved, but in Burmese it was called hand salad, and hand salad wasn’t going on the menu. So she renamed it Rainbow Salad, and the dish suddenly sold like crazy.

Lee can’t point to a moment when she felt assured of Burma Superstar’s success, but somewhere, around , the jostling in the dining room spilled onto the sidewalk. Local publications began touting the restaurant’s vegetarian samusa soup — a popular street food in Burma, Lee says — and customers couldn’t get enough of the coconut rice and the tea leaf salad, now made with added romaine lettuce for a lighter crunch.

In , Htunlin and Lee took over a friend’s flailing Alameda restaurant and turned it into a second Burma Superstar, then opened a third branch in Temescal in

Burma Superstar had become a phenomenon.

Setting the pace

In the wake of the phenomenon came Rangoon Rubys and Burma Houses and Pagans. Overflow from the Burma Superstar lines even helped transform the pace at nearby Mandalay from sleepy to manic.

Lee attributes today’s Burmese boom to changing tastes. “I think, in general, people are more interested in trying something new,” she says. “What’s new to them is traditional to Burma. You can bring on the fish sauce, bring on the shrimp paste. People are open to trying other people’s cuisines.”

Yet, as Burmese cuisine has settled into its new country, it has changed. How could it not? The vegetables sold at market are different. The Pacific Ocean yields different fish than Southeast Asian rivers.

The context in which we eat the food is different, too. Burma’s national dish, a pounded-fish stew called mohinga, is ladled into bowls at street corner stalls at all hours of the day; on Bay Area menus, it takes a demure place in the soup section. Here, curries aren’t set on the table with a profusion of bowls: rice, soup, raw and lightly cooked vegetables, pickles and relishes.

Most important, who eats the food is different.

“Real Burmese food,” says Myanmar Community USA Director Chin, “they use fish sauce a lot. But not many people can stand the smell. So they have to use it a little bit lighter, so non-Burmese people will come and eat it.”

There’s also a similarity between newer restaurants’ menus and Burma Superstar’s. You can see it at Shwe Myanmar in San Rafael, whose menu — rainbow salad, samusa soup and all — emulates the more established restaurant’s with the fierce devotion of a drag queen to her Beyonce cover.

Burmese food is becoming Burmese American food, just as what Americans consider Thai and Indian food congealed several decades before: a short canon of dishes popularized by early restaurants like Nan Yang, Mandalay and Burma Superstar, interspersed with Chinese American and Thai dishes. The prepackaged tea leaf salad you now find at grocery stores is a lettuce salad lightly flecked with dark green.

Who emigrates from Burma to America has changed as well. Given the ruling regime’s repression of the many ethnic groups — Karen, Shan, Chin, Kachin, Mon — the U.S. government has granted asylum to , new refugees since , many of whom have settled across the country. Northern California-bound immigrants find housing in Oakland or Union City instead of San Francisco. Instead of working on farms and in workshops in Burma, here they can become cooks and servers.

Free to experiment

We are entering a new phase: Bay Area diners have embraced Burmese food so enthusiastically that they have freed some restaurateurs to experiment.

William Lue exemplifies both aspects of the rush. After spending the s and ’80s in Chinese and Burmese restaurants, Lue left the industry until , when he launched a short-lived Burmese food truck that circulated in SoMa. A string of pop-ups and half-baked restaurants followed. Then Lue settled on an empire-building strategy: taking Burmese to the ’burbs.

Tapping into the flow of immigrant cooks to the East Bay, Lue opened the Refined Palate in Orinda in December , TW Burmese Gourmet in San Ramon in May , Grocery Cafe in East Oakland in March and Pacheco Bistro in Martinez three weeks ago.

All fit the designation “hole in the wall”: sparsely decorated restaurants in central but far from high-profile locations, each with a short introductory menu of classics like tea and ginger salads, mohinga, coconut-chicken noodles, and a few curries.

Lue, a man with so many plans that it’s hard to separate the ideal from reality, has even grander ambitions. He’s hoping to have Hmong farmers in Fresno grow Burmese vegetables like moringa (“drumstick tree”) and chinbong, the “sour leaf” that some restaurants stir-fry with shrimp, and to introduce the East Bay to rare Shan and Karen dishes. His cooks are already preparing rarities for groups who request them in advance, and Lue says he produces fermented fish paste, spicy dried anchovies and other fragrant condiments for customers who ask for “Burmese Burmese” food.

Lue isn’t alone. Some of the most distinctive Burmese food in San Francisco is coming from Wanna-E, a food truck that became street-legal just two months ago.

Wanna-E is run by a group of Burmese-Chinese friends in their 20s who arrived in the Bay Area in the mids. Manager William Lee and his sister, Coco, a recent culinary-school grad, teamed up with Zin Win and Rainy Shai because they wanted to introduce the food of Mandalay, the city where all four spent their early years.

“Mandalay is really diverse,” William Lee says. “A lot of immigrants have come there from China and Thailand, and our cuisine has already been shaped by this diverse culture.”

The four winnowed down their initial list of 50 dishes — all of which they hold in reserve for their restaurant, should they ever open one — down to a menu of 10 mobile-friendly offerings. It includes Chinese-Burmese noodles with braised pork and scads of fried garlic, and a Yunnanese mushroom noodle soup. A salad of crispy shredded pork with cabbage and lime is a dish the Lees’ grandmother concocted years ago.

Even their classics taste more vivid than the versions we’ve come to expect: Tea leaf salad thrums with the funk of squid sauce, and crisp-edged squares of split-pea “tofu” come with a tart, chile-laced tamarind dipping sauce that Lee says is ubiquitous in Mandalay.

“Our customers tell us it’s very different from Burmese dishes at other restaurants,” William Lee says. “That’s a good thing to hear.”

Burma Superstar is not maintaining the status quo, either. When Htunlin opened Burma Love in December, he replaced some of the staples with new dishes. Lee, too, says she has just returned from a Burmese voyage, inspired. New dishes may spin out of her trip, she says, as well as a series of pop-ups to raise money for school uniforms.

She also came home with a more profound sense of her restaurant’s reach after talking with a woman in Burma who runs a cooking school and community center.

Well into their discussion, the woman finally asked Lee where she was traveling from. San Francisco, Lee told her.

“Oh!” the woman exclaimed. “Burma Superstar!”

Jonathan Kauffman is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @jonkauffman

A guide to Burma by the bay

Here’s an opinionated, incomplete and highly personal guide to some of my favorite Burmese dishes from local restaurants.

Mandalay: California St., San Francisco; () www.mandalaysf.com. Lunch and dinner daily.

Pick the Burmese dishes out from the sugary Chinese American ones, and you will eat well: lettuce-free tea leaf salad, ginger salad, Mandalay special noodles (noodles with coconut, chicken and lime), kaw soi dok (cold noodles with fried shallots and tamarind dressing).

Burma Superstar: Clement St., San Francisco; () www.burmasuperstar.com. Lunch and dinner daily.

Samusa soup, rainbow salad, okra egg curry, platha with curry.

Wanna-E: Thisfood truck is often parked during lunchtime at the corner of Third and Harrison streets in San Francisco. Check www.wanna-e.com or http://twitter.com/wannaesf for locations.

Split-pea tofu, tea leaf salad, pork sung salad, chicken curry with coconut rice.

Little Yangon: Mission St., Daly City; () http://littleyangon.com. Lunch and dinner Monday, Wednesday-Friday; breakfast through dinner Saturday-Sunday.

Mohinga (fish-noodle soup), Indo-Burmese biryani and, if you’re inclined toward strong flavors, belachang (fried ground shrimp and chiles). One of the few Bay Area restaurants that does not stint on shrimp paste and fish sauce.

Grocery Cafe: 10th Ave., Oakland; () www.facebook.com/grocerycafe. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday.

Mohinga (fish-noodle soup), ginger salad, braised pork with pickled mango, and whatever daily specials that William Lue is testing out on customers.

Mingalaba: Burlingame Ave., Burlingame; () www.mingalabarestaurant.com. Lunch and dinner daily.

Mingalaba is owned by the same family behind Mandalay, and the menu is similar. Food Editor Miriam Morgan, a regular customer, recommends ong noh kaw soi (coconut milk chicken soup), tea leaf salad, pan-fried okra prawns and house special noodles (with coconut, split peas and lime leaf).

— Jonathan Kauffman, [email protected]

Sours: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/The-Bay-Area-s-Burmese-food-boomphp

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Myanmar’s Unseen Street Food!! Hidden Gem of Southeast Asia!!

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