B Star Bar – San Francisco

Americanized Burmese food is one of those things that instantly repulses yet fascinates me. At the one hand, I’m surprised there’s a market for Burmese cuisine outside the country. On the other hand, I’m left at the end of the meal feeling unfulfilled.

An incomplete Burmese meal imparts a feeling called “ah yi” (အအီ), with no true English equivalent, describing how one feels after wolfing down a hearty and oil-laden meal. I won’t dissect the anatomy of the requisites in a Burmese meal, but dishes are paired according to their qualities. For example, oil-based curries are paired with a sour-tasting soup to offset the oiliness, and by extension, that feeling.

Interior of B Star Bar, a stone’s throw away from Burma Superstar on Clement Street.

Burma Superstar and its sister restaurant, B Star Bar, can best be described as Burmese food water downed for the American palate. We headed to Burma Superstar, but scared off by the long wait, we marched up a few blocks to B Star Bar, also owned by the same proprietor, offering some Burmese dishes alongside other Asian ones.

Burmese tea leaf salad (လက်ဖက်သုပ်).

#1. Why is it so damn expensive? #2 WTF are romaine lettuce and sunflower seeds doing in the salad? This was the first time I’ve ever had this salad with the aforementioned ingredients (the traditional dish calls for julienned cabbage).

Coconut chicken noodles

The coconut chicken noodles can best be described as a lovechild of the Thai khao soi and the Burmese ono khauk swe (အုန်းနို့ခေါက်ဆွဲ). The Thai version uses fried noodles and pickled mustard greens, while the Burmese version tops the noodle soup with a hardboiled egg. Observations aside, this was a pretty good dish, except I couldn’t discern any chickpea flour, which forms the base of the soup.

Chicken curry (ကြက်သားအာလူးဟင်း)

Chicken curry with potatoes is often eaten with hand-torn pieces of paratha. It was honestly my favorite of the dishes we sampled – the potatoes were cooked to perfection and tender. The portions left much to be desired, though.

Pumpkin pork stew

The pumpkin pork stew was one of the highlights of this meal. The pork was tender, as was the kabocha and subtly spiced.

Lamb curry (ဆိပ်သားဆီပြန်)

For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to order 3 oil-based curries at once. By the time the lamb curry arrived, I was ready to call it quits because I hadn’t yet quenched my thirst for something sour. My mistake.

Peace, Justin

B Star Bar
127 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121

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