Burmese Noodles @ T-28 in San Francisco
When rworange posted her inquiry last month about T-28, a Macau/Hong Kong-style coffee shop, the cite of "samosas with curry spicy potatoes" caught my eye. I wondered if there might be a Burmese twist here too. Pulling up the menu link she provided, I found a section listing five Burmese-style noodle dishes.
Yesterday I was out in the Sunset all afternoon and afterwards had a chance to stop by for dinner. #36 on the menu, "chicken with coconut milk and lemon grass noodle soup, $5.25" sounded like the Burmese dish called, ono kauk swe, so that's what I wanted.
Yellow curried chicken stock strikes a deep note with just enough coconut milk for a sweet tropical fragrance mingled with the scent of stalks of lemon grass and fresh cilantro. A small bit of chili paste from the condiment tray added a needed note of tartness and spice. Chunks of long-stewed dark meat chicken on the bone top softish thick egg noodles. No hard-cooked egg or fried garlic or shallots, yet the bowl is garnished with fried, crispy yellow pea crackers. Lacking great complexity or the refinement of better versions, still this offered up a comforting taste and simple warmth that made it satisfying.
T-28 Bakery & Cafe
1753 - 1757 Taraval St. @ 28th Ave.
Image of chicken with coconut milk and lemon grass noodle soup:
Recent thread about T-28 Bakery & Cafe:
On your great photo and recommendation I had the T-28 #36 noodle curried chicken w/coconut milk soup today. Rich and filling. Really liked the crispy pea cracker. One question. I assumed it was fried dough (flour/grain based), but once it got soggy, I started to wonder... It looked like soggy agar or (gulp) crackling? Please tell me you think it was just flour or pea/lentil based dough holding the peas in!
My spouse had the sizzling black pepper beef w/ spaghetti. It sounds bad, & it was greasy even for a "chow mein" made out of spagetti, but it was nice and peppery and tasty. I really fought him for the crispy noodle bits that seared onto the cast/iron platter.
I observed a lot of customers getting the pork chops with different sauces and even ones tucked into the "buns" (which are pretty much like western sandwich rolls).
Next time I'll try something under the "macao" and "portuguese" listing with a friend who lived in both countries. Yum!
I liked the version at Natoma Cafe very much, but it has closed, won't tease you with that pic. Skip Green Elephant's or Burma Superstar's versions. Haven't had it at Innya Lake in San Bruno for a couple years, however, a friend says that it still shines. Rangoon in Palo Alto could be a good bet.
The place was humming on a Saturday night, and I had the luck to get the last open table as soon as I stepped in. Yet, I have to say that looking at the food on tables around me, nothing looked particularly appetizing that I'd be motivated to return. This is the total opposite of my experience at the dearly departed Jook n Fun, which made the same genre. Here I saw plates piled high with thin, dried out pork chops that mothers struggled to cut with dinner knives. Gloppy sauce jelled on the edges of plates, fused together lumps of greasy chow fun, oil-soaked and tough green onion pancakes, pale red/pink bloated mushy spaghetti, basically ick. This doesn't seem like a good place to get a handle on this style of food and you might want to find a different place to start. I did think that the underlying chicken stock was well-made in my dish, and maybe other styles of soup noodles would pan out.
One unique thing that I have been looking for and watched the table on the other side of the room consume was what's called "fried milk dumplings" or something like that. This is a milk custard, battered and fried like fritters. But it was served just plain, maybe I need to bring my own sugar or dipping sauce.
A woman at the table next to me (we were pushed right up against each other) eyed my bowl when it was served and asked me what it was. In my limited Cantonese, I tried to explain that it was a burmese style dish with curry and coconut. She nodded and said that it looked better than their dinner. So, if that's any indication ...
Edited to add: T-28 deserves some extra points for serving until midnight.