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Burmese Packaged Foods @ Good Luck Yogurt (Newark)

Melanie Wong May 20, 2007 10:32 PM

Following up leads from DezzerSF and ThaDu, on Tuesday I decided to see what’s up at Good Luck in Newark’s Newpark Mall. Located on the same level as the food court, but on the far end near Mervyn’s, Good Luck Yogurt’s main offerings are frozen yogurt, ice cream, and confections. But it also has a small display case chockfull of packed dry goods with Burmese writing on them.

I inquired about fermented tea leaf salad, and was then asked, “regular or spicy”? The brand that DezzerSF’s friend purchases, Pin Pyo Ywet Nu, Zayan Pickled Tea Leaves, is the spicy one. I decided to go with “regular” made by Yuzana Pickled Tea. Both are $5 and include all the crispy mix-ins as well as the fermented or pickled tea leaves. The counter lady advised that I should add fresh lemon juice and dried shrimp, and a little bit of fish sauce and chili flakes, if I liked. I saw the plastic tubs of housemade balachaung (dried shrimp, garlic and chili condiment) and bought a “hot” half-pint for $4.

Image of Yuzana Laphet (Pickled Tea) package and Balachaung (hot) –
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/196/506320499_381a040d89_o.jpg

The package, made in Myanmar, is about the size of a pound bag of coffee. The back label promises “Yuzana pickled tea, round fried garlic, baked sesame, baked peanuts, fried butterfly peas, green peas, fried Australian peas, and fried gram chick peas.’

Image of back label of Yuzana pickled tea package -
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/191/506320491_8a5942ed16_o.jpg

Saturday I was invited to a dinner party and decided to try this it on my fellow guests. I brought along a few lemons and limes and my two purchases to compose on site.

Image of pickled tea packaged components -
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/212/506320481_f38edbf245_o.jpg

My first surprise was that the pack seemed to be short a couple things. Only one kind of peas in the bag, the split yellow lentil-like legume, but not sure whether this is butterfly, green or Australian.

The part I was most curious about was the pickled tea itself, wrapped up tightly in three layers of plastic, as my only experience has been with a fully dressed salad in a restaurant. I had a taste or it unadulterated and it’s pretty strong stuff. I broke up the compacted tea leaves up with a fork and added the juice of one Eureka lemon. Tasted and found it still pretty overpowering, so added the juice of a second lemon. Still very strong, I juiced half a lime and added that with a drizzle of vegetable oil. At this point I was wishing I had picked up some salad greens to cut the concentration.

Image of plated tea leaf salad -
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/196/506320469_cbcd347046_o.jpg

Just before we were ready to sit down, I mixed in all the crunchy ingredients along with a couple spoonfuls of the balachaung. Once combined, the amount of tea leaf flavor was intense but in a most agreeable way and I was glad I hadn’t added any greenery. Piled on a large dinner plate for service, it was a formidable pile, about three cups worth. I added some more balachaung on the top for color and garnished with lime wedges.

This was enough to serve 10 people as an appetizer. None of the guests had tasted this Burmese salad before. Reactions were all over the board, mostly positive, ranging from those who absolutely loved it to others who took a polite taste and said more with their silence.

One package contained about the equivalent of four orders at a restaurant. The crispy ingredients were indeed crunchy though next time I might heat them in the toaster oven to freshen them up and bring out more roasted fragrance.

I’ll be purchasing these products again. Thanks to our intrepid chowhounds for the tip.

Good Luck Yogurt
2217 Newpark Mall
(upper level, next to Mervyn’s
)Newark, CA 94560
(510) 745-7788

Mentions of Good Luck -
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397985#2565370
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46074#228509

Myanmar Business Times article on pickled tea leaf purveyors –
http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/myanmartime...

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  1. Dave MP May 20, 2007 10:59 PM

    Thanks for the report! If I'm ever near Newark I'll get some too....anyone know of Burmese products like this in San Francisco?

    Dave MP

    1. DezzerSF May 20, 2007 11:02 PM

      Wow I applaud your audacity, trying it on tea leaf novices! I'm glad you and some of your guests liked it. Do you think the local restaurants use something similar to these packages? Or would places ferment the tea leaves themselves?

      13 Replies
      1. re: DezzerSF
        Dave MP May 20, 2007 11:24 PM

        I was wondering the same thing....how hard is it to ferment tea leaves? Is there a place in the Bay Area where this is done centrally or do places do this on their own? Or do they buy packages?

        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP
          rworange May 21, 2007 08:39 AM

          At least at Burma Superstar they buy them
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45834

          There was a long discussion about this that I can't find, but there is something special about it so they don't make it themselves. IIRC.

          This isn't the link, but talks a bit about the fermented tea leaves from Myanmar and has a link with a little info
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/298412
          http://www.innwa.com/dev/kitchen/news/get-news.asp?id=142

          Found some additional info and here's a link on the general board
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403580

          Lets just say it involves tea experts, a pit, a year and secret recipes.

          1. re: rworange
            DezzerSF May 21, 2007 02:25 PM

            Thanks for the research rworange!

            Melanie, how does the salad compare to the numerous versions you've tried?

            1. re: DezzerSF
              t
              ThaDu May 21, 2007 09:08 PM

              If you can get tea leaves i can get someone knew how to do it. i have an aunt in San Jose whose family was in that business making tea leaves for salad. it is a long process. wrapped in layer of leaves and placed in running stream water for months. they did that same with fermented shrimp. if you are in larkin deli asked them if they have fermented shrimp salad." pa zone chin". they had it in the menu written in burmese..

              1. re: ThaDu
                Melanie Wong May 21, 2007 09:33 PM

                TD, thanks for mentioning the aging in the running stream of water. That's what I remember hearing long ago, but couldn't find any references to it on the web. I've also had a sense that the importation of these pickled tea leaves is not entirely legal. . . e.g., carried back by relatives.

                Any other Burmese food products that Good Luck sells that you think I might like playing with?

                I'm going to try using the balachaung with some green beans. The version here is spicy hot, but I think I'll add a little ngapi for more pungency.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  DezzerSF Aug 18, 2007 01:11 PM

                  Last night, we bought more tea leaves and inquired about ginger salad and mohinga. They have both and I believe more products if you just ask. They were surprised that I knew about all the different dishes.

                  The older lady, I think the mother of the owner, spoke a little Mandarin and told my SO to add an onion to the mohinga. It's basically ground fish and spices which you boil in water. They also sell the split pea fritters that are usually served with, beya jyaw?

                  I just had the ginger salad for lunch and it was really tasty. It's the same brand as the tea leaves, Pin Pyo Ywet Nu, and comes with all the crispy mix-ins. I added 2 sliced tomatoes, juice of 1 lime, a little olive oil, dried shrimp, thai chilies, minced garlic, salt and pepper. I think it's a smaller portion than the tea leaf salad though, as we finished it off in 2 bowls. I remember always having 1 extra bowl with the tea leaf salad.

                  1. re: DezzerSF
                    Melanie Wong Aug 18, 2007 11:08 PM

                    Omigod, I can't imagine eating that much tea salad at one sitting, it kept me up late enough with a small bit!

                    Thanks for reporting in on the other products. The idea of mohinga from a package is intriguing. This is dried ground fish? How does the taste compare to mohinga made with fresh fish?

                    -----
                    Good Luck Food & Ice Cream
                    2217 Newpark Mall, Newark, CA 94560

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      DezzerSF Aug 18, 2007 11:48 PM

                      Yeah it's kept me up pretty late as well, but since the crispy ingredients get soggy, we end up finishing the whole package. I think the best bet is to eat it as an early lunch!

                      I haven't actually tried the mohinga yet but I'll report back when I do. Here's a couple pictures of the package.

                       
                       
                      1. re: DezzerSF
                        t
                        ThaDu Aug 19, 2007 02:42 PM

                        you will be disappointed if you just used it as instructed. add some fish and ingredients with the powder and you will want some more. if interested let me know. try with fresh pho.

                        1. re: ThaDu
                          DezzerSF Aug 19, 2007 02:46 PM

                          Yes, I bought some Basa and I'm planning to add cilantro, onions, pho noodles, and maybe some hard boiled eggs as well. Anything else you would recommend? Have you ever used the "instant" mohinga packet before?

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        DezzerSF Aug 20, 2007 09:11 PM

                        I tried the mohinga powder last night. Here's a link to my post on the Home Cooking board.

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433363

          2. re: DezzerSF
            Melanie Wong May 21, 2007 09:38 PM

            The times I've asked restaurants about buying the tea leaves, I've always been told that it takes family connections. That's part of the reason I jumped on the opportunity to buy some over the counter in Newark. I forgot to ask if it's possible to buy just the pickled leaves without the crunchy stuff. Although for $5, I feel like I got quite a deal.

            Some restaurants probably use the packages. Some of them fry the add-ins fresh. What I liked about mixing up my own is that it wasn't cut with too much lettuce, cabbage, or tomatoes. If I'd been in my own kitchen, I think I would have added a little bit of fresh minced garlic, a dash of fish sauce, and maybe a little grated ginger. I would also add some toasted coconut, as this was how my favorite version at a restaurant that's now closed was made.

            The tea leaf taste was the same as at any of the restaurants I've tried. But again, having it with less filler was a big plus, tastewise. Some restaurants, such as Burma Super Star are incredibly stingy with the tea leaves. The disadvantage is that I had more of it than a usual portion, and with that hit of extra caffeine, couldn't fall asleep until after 3am!

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              t
              ThaDu Aug 19, 2007 04:59 PM

              boil water with 2 or 3 lemon grass whole (smashed lemon grass with flat face of clever) fold and tie with string. and a pinch of tumeric powder. slightly cooked the fillet cat fish (aka basa) and remove from hot water. sauteed with a little oil onion, garlic, ginger(can use kitchen aid to chop), fish sauce until all meat are dried not lumpy. it is good to use whole fish instead of fillet due to the flavor from the fish bone. if whole fish is used, put the fish bone back to the boiling water and let it simmer for awhile. screen off the liquid and discard all bone and lemon grass. put recently cooked fish, the package powder, add some bagon if you want. add whole boiling onion or shallot at the end and turn off heat. scoop one whole onion for each bowl. add cilantro lime crunchy split peas etc enjoy

          3. v
            vulber Feb 16, 2011 04:28 PM

            Has anyone been here recently? A Yelp post from January says something about a for sale sign. Also, what are their hours?

            7 Replies
            1. re: vulber
              t
              ThaDu Feb 16, 2011 06:22 PM

              if you are looking for place to buy burmese food, try this place in clement ave betweeen 4th and 5th in san francisco.
              there is a india spice store next to it is a (AUNG)? jewelry store. go inside the jewelry store you will see more burmese food than jewelry.

              1. re: ThaDu
                Melanie Wong Feb 16, 2011 06:30 PM

                Hi ThaDu, there's a place called Aung Jewelry between 8th and 9th, is that it?
                744 Clement Street
                San Francisco, CA 94118-2217
                (415) 221-3204

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  t
                  ThaDu Feb 16, 2011 06:34 PM

                  yes that the place, hi Melanie
                  Patrick

                  1. re: ThaDu
                    Melanie Wong Feb 16, 2011 06:45 PM

                    Thanks, you always have the inside scoop on these hidden places. That's across the street from the Burmese restaurant, Burma Tea Leaf (formerly Pagan). Are the businesses related?

                    Have you been to the new place in Daly City, Burma Cafe?

                    -----
                    Burma Tea Leaf
                    731 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                    Burma Cafe
                    63 St Francis Square, Daly City, CA 94015

                    1. re: ThaDu
                      v
                      vulber Feb 17, 2011 12:08 AM

                      they sell the the leaves?

                      1. re: vulber
                        t
                        ThaDu Feb 17, 2011 08:31 PM

                        i am pretty sure they have tea leaf. that the main item

                      2. re: ThaDu
                        v
                        vulber Feb 19, 2011 01:53 PM

                        they don't have the leaves (anymore), but they did refer me to Haig's, which did

                2. w
                  wanderingspoon May 18, 2011 05:16 PM

                  The folks at Good Luck Yogurt are in the process of moving their shop. Their new number is: 510-396-3291.

                  Amy is super nice and willing to mail the leaves to you. They come in a box with four packets for $6.

                  1. v
                    vulber May 18, 2011 05:21 PM

                    as far as i know, also still available at haig's in the richmond too if you go all the way to the guy in the back; just don't go on sundays

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vulber
                      AntarcticWidow May 26, 2011 06:37 PM

                      If you do buy from the guy in the back, bring cash. His transactions are separate from the deli. I bought two packages yesterday, 3.99$ apiece. In it is a packet of peanut oil, and the crunchies (peanuts, split yellow peas, sesame and fried garlic) mixed in one package. I also bought a package of just the leaves (about 5 oz) for 5.99$.

                      He was opening a separate store of "our own", at which point they would no longer be selling at Haigs. He didn't say when exactly when or where, just that it would be "soon", and somewhere in the neighborhood.

                      1. re: AntarcticWidow
                        Melanie Wong May 23, 2012 04:22 PM

                        I was last there a year ago to buy the tea leaves at Haig's. Anyone know if the manager at Haig's has opened his own store yet? Or is he still selling at Haig's?

                    2. fruti Nov 27, 2011 04:27 PM

                      Hi. Just went there today. It has moved. Still in the area of the mall but in the plaza outside of the mall. A couple shops over from Home Town Buffet. New name - have to look it up. Got 8 - count them- packs of straight tea for $8 each. Enough for at least 6 or 8 main dish salads. Bought some crunchies separately. Ran home and made a huge salad with dried shrimp, lemon, lettuce, olive oil, fried garlic. Yum.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: fruti
                        fruti Nov 27, 2011 10:16 PM

                        Correction - the packet has enough tea for 12 very generous salads - not including the crunchies and other add ins.

                        the new name of the place is Myanmar Pyi Thar and while they do have yogurt that seems not to be the big deal there. We also got the mohinga package and the split pea fritters but the big score is all the tea. We'll see if either of us sleeps tonight.

                        1. re: fruti
                          hhc Nov 27, 2011 10:34 PM

                          Fruti, thank you for the posts. Do they take credit cards or is it still cash only? Will be going soon.

                        2. re: fruti
                          Cynsa May 23, 2012 05:08 PM

                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/myanmar-pyi-t...
                          5450 Newpark Plz
                          Newark, CA 94560
                          (510) 396-3291

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