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May 20, 2007 10:06 AM

Burmese @ By The Bite, San Francisco

Finding myself downtown on Friday, I took the opportunity to try the Burmese stall in the “food dungeon” in the basement food court of the International Food Center. The Burmese menu here includes tea salad, ginger salad, mango salad, mohinga, and ono kauk swe, plus some greasy steam table foods for rice plate combos. Self-service hot tea is complimentary. Eyeing the counter, the freshness of the condiments at the prep station --- slices of jalapeno chilis, chopped onions, cut limes, cilantro, etc. --- and the jar of fried yellow peas were good signs.

For $5.25, I got a big bowl of coconut-scented, curried chicken soup with a couple big pieces of long-stewed, boneless chicken thigh and some pieces of curried potatoes and carrots fished out of the steam table tray. This was topped with shaved raw onions, chopped cilantro, two halves of hard-boiled egg, and a sprinkling of fried yellow peas. While the noodles were pretty soft, having been precooked and reheated with a swish through the boiling water, this was quite tasty. The soup tasted homemade, not quite as deep as the version at Larkin Express, but delicious in its own way with a little less garlic and coconut influence. I added a squeeze of lime and some of the chili flakes provided on the side. The soup had a grease slick of red oil floating on top that I partially skimmed off. All in all, a nice showing and good value, especially for the Financial District. I’d order this again.

Image of street-level signage and coconut chicken noodle soup -

By The Bite
In International Food Center basement
380 Bush (@ Belden
)San Francisco

Edited to add: I noticed a little caddy of what looked like homemade pickled chili peppers near the tea station. I thought they'd be good for spicing up a bowl of mohinga (fish chowder).

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  1. I tried their tea leaf salad today. Tasty, spiciest version I've had. As good as Burma Superstar's, not as good as Larkin Express Deli's. $5.95 with tax. Very friendly people. They''ll be closed for vacation next week.

    What a funny place that food court is. I wonder how long it's been there?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for adding to the intelligence on this place. This was my first time in the food dungeon. Did you notice that all the stalls, except for the Mexican one, are run by Chinese people?

      By the Bite
      380 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        The dungeon was there in the 80s when I worked in the B of A building.

      2. i followed melanie months ago and was delighted by the bowl, i returned a few times and over the summer they took a break

        i went today, i'm sad to report that things have changed for the worse. there is now a big sign of some tea shop that may be sponsoring the stand or something, hot milk tea (you can choose something else), watery as heck is "included" with lunch

        the dish is served with the broth and the noodles + rest of the food separated (see picture), the noodle was still an egg noodle but flatter than i remembered. still rather soft. the broth seemed okay, the ingredients did not differed much, down to the lemon to squeeze although i question the addition of two fried squid rings, what gives (they were not good)

        the real culprit is the chicken, it's these tiny bits around bones with not much meat around, i think the guy serving my food counted the number of pieces

        maybe having to put the dish together was the deal breaker but i sense maybe some change in ownership or something

        it cost $5.75, there was a lot of noodle

        1 Reply
        1. re: kewlio

          Sorry to hear this. The one time I tried it, the stand was run by two women.

        2. Any more recent experiences here? Haven't been new reviews with any detail on the board after kewlio's downhill report (above) from November.

          1 Reply
          1. re: david kaplan

            I stumbled across this posting when trying to find out if there were any Burmese options nearish downtown and it is now on my list to try when we visit in mid-April. If our mission is successful, I will certainly post FWIW from an out-of-town 'Hound :-).