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May 15, 2007 07:51 AM

Has anyone been to Cafe Mingala? (Burmese)

How is it? Do you think Burmese food is anything like Yunnan style food? (I believe they share a border.) Any must-try dishes?

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  1. I have gone before but it was years ago. I don't recall any real similarity to Chinese - I thought the influences were more southeast-asian, frankly. I recall having tried their ginger salad - I would say that it's worth a try.

    1. are you talking about the place around 72nd st/2nd? I think it's worth checking out. Burmese definitely has a unique taste that is somewhere between Chinese, Thai and Indian, and the menu reflects these influences. Try the tea leaf salad or the dumpling soup or the mango chicken. there was some sort of curry flavored crepe/pancake that was really good too.

      7 Replies
      1. re: jeanki

        I've been to village mingala on 7th street between 2nd and 3rd. I second jeanki's assessment. It's somewhere around indian/thai... maybe indonesian in character. There are a lot of dishes that, once you get them, have an equivalent in one of the other cuisines.

        The shrimp salad is good. And I usually get the mango chicken. I'm pretty sure the one on the UES and the one in the EV are owned by the same people.

        Once I was asking the waiter about a particular noodle dish... he asked "have you had pad thai? it's just like pad thai.."

        1. re: egit

          I like the Mingala in the E V too--pad thai good-curries good--this is more like thai food than chinese

          1. re: egit

            I've had amazing Burmese food in Falls Church, Virginia, and in Bethesda, Maryland, and good stuff at an annual Burmese "food and fun festival" in Queens, but definitely not at Mingala. I have to agree with Peter C. that Village Mingala is incredibly bland and dull, at least when I tried it. It's very Americanized, like a lot of Thai restaurants around here. Not authentic. Haven't been to the UES one, but they're owned by the same people.

            See also:

            Heard a lot of good things about the new Burmese Cafe in Jackson Heights, Queens, though.

            1. re: egit

              I went to Café Mingala on 73rd and 2nd for the first time last night with my friends, Theresa and Zoe. Theresa ordered the Chili Chicken and Zoe, the Chicken Curry with Potatoes. I got the Mango Chicken. We shared the Mango Salad and Thousand Layered Pancakes.

              The Mango Salad with thinly sliced mango, lettuce and carrots was refreshing. It had sweet and flowery notes from the mango and salty, vinegar notes from the dressing. I also tasted hints of ginger and toasted peanuts. The salad was a great way to start off our meal even though it was a tad bit over dressed.

              The Chicken and Potato Curry came in a dish that looked similar to a North African Tangine. The curry sauce was savory and creamy. It slipped down my throat like a warm soup full of wonderful, comforting flavors. I could taste smokiness from spices like cumin and turmeric, sweet notes from ginger and anise seed, and a rounded out acidity from slow& low cooked tomatoes. The potatoes were tender and absorbed all the flavors of the curry sauce. The chicken was so succulent that it feel off of my fork. My friend Zoe really enjoyed it. She liked it so much that there was none left to take home.

              The Chili Chicken had strong notes of Chili. I got a huge whiff of it when they brought the dish to the table. However, despite the intoxicating aroma of chili peppers this dish’s bark is worse that its bite. It is not as hot as I thought it was going to be. My friend Theresa gets this every time she goes.

              But my favorite was the Mango Chicken and not just because I ordered it. When I think of South East Asian flavors combinations of sweet, savory, salty and spicy come to mind. The Mango Chicken was made up of all of these elements. The chicken strips were packed with mango flavor and had a unique texture. They were juicy on the inside and had a soft coating on the outside. It seemed like they were lightly breaded and then simmered in the incredible mango and coconut milk sauce. The mango, coconut milk sauce had notes of lime, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and cumin to name a few and was both tangy and sweet.
              When I took a bite, at first, my mouth puckered but then the fattiness of the coconut milk hit my palate and brought a wealth of hidden flavors with it.

              I enjoyed my first time eating Burmese food in NYC at Café Mingala. I definitely recommend it. It would be a good place for a group of friends, family night or a date.

              1. re: AishaFoodista

                OK, this is surprising to me. Mingala was a restaurant in the East Village. About 20 years ago, it used to be a pretty good neighborhood Burmese restaurant. Then, I believe over 15 years ago, the chef was replaced by someone who made what tasted like lousy Chinese takeout food, and I stopped going. I respect your report, but I'd want to know whether the management or/and chef in this new location is different and better than the bad chef at the former East Village location before considering a visit to the new location.

                1. re: Pan

                  I ate there last spring and found it to be decent, pretty much like the east village location when I used to go, which was in the early 90s. It wouldn't be a destination place for me, but if I was in the neighborhood I could have a decent meal there. The people who run it are very nice. I have no idea if they are or are not related to the late east village mingala. def didn't taste like lousy chinese takeout food, tho.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I've had some of the vegetarian dishes from the lunch special. It's not bad, filling and cheap. But I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.

                    I have very fond memories of the EV Mingala, particularly the thousand-layer something-or-other with "tasty vatana peas." I don't think the two are related, although I don't know for sure.

            2. I haven't been to either of the Mingalas for years because I found the food heavy and unexceptional. The owner's sister, Irene Wong, had the first and best Malaysian restaurant in NY, Road to Mandalay (on Broome street) some years ago. She went on to high-end catering. Her restaurant may have been exceptional because she was a creative, exceptional cook, not because it was "authentic."


              1 Reply
              1. re: Peter Cherches

                I meant to say that Irene Wong had the first and best Burmese restaurant, not Malaysian.

              2. Mrs. GG and I have been taking out from Mingala on east 7th for 20 years. I highly recommend the Rangoon Night Market Noodles which are like lo mein with tons of duck and scallions. Grab a couple of McSorley darks next door while you wait. An order of noodles feeds two for $8.

                3 Replies
                1. re: guttergourmet

                  Hi GG , do not know when you were last at Mingala,l was there for lunch today.
                  Soup while hot, was totally flavorless and the rangoon noodles were lukewarm with virtually nothing but warm noodles, needed much chili oil to even eat 1/2 of dish. quantity was huge though

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    Usually the Rangoon Night Market Noodles has tons of minced duck meat.

                    1. re: guttergourmet

                      Not blaming you for the difference, only reporting the change. Person had lunch with, as a neighborhood place for her, said was radically different and that perhaps l was a ' kiss of death' for restaurants