Over spring break, Josie and I took a road trip with some friends to Norcal. We had already planned out all the food places we’d hit up along the way and we somehow managed to eat at all of them. 🙂 Food (and good company) was the highlight of this trip.
After a really long drive up to SF, we checked in our hotel near the Civic Center and did some sightseeing at the City Hall. Then we headed over to Burmese Kitchen, a Burmese resto really close to SF’s Little Saigon. The place is pretty small and packed at dinner time. We waited for a good 20 minutes for our seats.
There are a bunch of Burmese carvings and decorations in Burmese Kitchen, giving it a homely feel. But I’m still of the opinion that home-cooked Burmese food is a lot better tasting than restaurant-style Burmese food. I just wanted my friends to experience Burmese food.
For appetizers, we ordered Burmese-style samuza (ဆမူစာ) for $4.95. Unlike Indian samosas, Burmese ones are relatively flat and triangle-shaped. They were perfectly fried, but a bit too small for my liking. (The samuza I’m used to are the size of my palm.) The potato-filled samuza came with a tangy and sweet sauce.
We also ordered fish cake salad or nga phe thok (ငဖယ်သုပ်) for $6.50. Nothing too amazing—just strips of fried fish cake mixed in with a generous serving of oil, chilies on the side, chopped lettuce and onions.
For the main course, we had the pork with pickled mango (ဝက်သားနဲ့သရက်သနပ်အချင်) for $6.50 and chicken curry (ကြက်သားဆီပြန်) for $5.50. As a primer, Burmese curries are rather oily (curries are called si byan or “glistening with oil” in Burmese).
The pork with pickled mango was rather disgusting, to be honest. The pickled mango slices, contrary to my expectations that it would be sweet, were really sour and difficult to chew. My mom always cooks this dish with sweet mango pickles, which give off a delicate masala spice fragrance that can be tasted in the pork. However, here, the pork chunks were totally drowned in an overpowering sour sauce.
The chicken curry was decent, but missing most of the oil sauce that it’s cooked in (maybe to make it more edible to non-Burmese folks). It was a bit too salty for me too.
We also ordered the tamarind fish (ငါးဆီပြန်နဲ့ ခရမ်းချင်သီး) for $6.95. It’s a shame that they were so stingy with portions. I could’ve eaten all of the fish fillets on the plate in a single bite.
Since we were still not full, we ordered pork with chana dal (ပဲပြုတ်နဲ့ဝက်သားဟင်း) as our last course, for $6.50. It tasted and looked more like an Indian dish than a Burmese one, especially the Indian chickpeas and the spices used. But as usual, a generous amount of oil used.
Prompt and friendly—I got to use my Burmese skills for a change. The restaurant owners (presumably) were pretty nice too. Since our rice was late, they gave us extra rice (biryani and coconut rice as well) on the house. Also, we were able to use a 10% coupon without any trouble by showing an online copy, since I forgot to bring my printed coupon.
Disappointingly small portions, but a good place for introducing Burmese cuisine to people who otherwise might not have a chance to try it out. I still think that monasteries and homes are the best places to find authentic Burmese food though!
Address: 452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102 | map