what's new at Larkin Express Deli
Prior to my lunch yesterday, it had been a couple of months since my last visit. They're still only open weekdays 10-4, and they're not staying open until 7 on Fridays right now since the holidays are slower for them.
I tried a new offering, the fish paste stew, which leaps to the top of my ranking of their dishes. It's a curry of chopped fish in a salty and sour tomato-based sauce. It's so pungent that a little goes a long way with rice; the owner also said it's delicious as a dip with raw vegetables.
In other news, they now offer two sizes of green tea and ginger salads: the original and a smaller one. Many of the hot dishes, including the fish paste stew, are available in side-dish size, so it's easier to go alone and still try a few things. Green tea salad was as good as ever -- easily my favorite in the Bay Area.
Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
I've been meaning to post about Larkin Express Deli again too. Thanks for the reminder. I ate there both last week and the week before. Two notable additions to the menu:
the fish paste curry, which David Kaplan describes - this is really good, the second time we had it it was served w/ some sliced raw cucumber - but I enjoy eating it with the rice. Pretty potent and spicy.
eggplant - eggplant in a very garlicky, green sauce. I wasn't sure why the sauce was green, and I asked the owner, who didn't know either! I thought this was kind of odd...together we came to the conclusion that it was basil. Or maybe food coloring? Either way, the eggplant is tender with a strong garlic flavor.
I re-tried the chicken curry recently, and I really enjoyed it - sort of similar to the sauce from the fish cake curry, which is one of my favorites. The pork is my least favorite - we had it this past visit, and I thought it was dry and the sauce wasn't interesting. Beef w/ lemongrass curry continues to be good, as does the mohinga, coconut/chicken soup, tea leaf salad. On a visit back in Sept or Oct I tried the Rainbow Salad - not on the menu - which was great as well, though heavy on dried shrimp/shrimp paste.
I wasn't aware of the option to order a small tea leaf salad - that's good to know!
Funny you noticed this too. First time I tried this dish I thought the same. In fact i told them that if the noodles were a little fatter (about udon size) and firmer, I could almost pretend I was eating laksa from my little corner of Malaysia up above Penang. I should probably get the broth to go, add some tamarind, get some fat rice noodles, voila...laksa...
re: Dave MP
It may have been the day I went, but the spices in the mohinga tasted stale to me, or something was just old. And yes the noodles were a bit too soft.
I've read they use different tea leaves than other Burmese restaurants in the area. Their leaves are paler, and don't have the big fermented flavor I like.
The coconut chicken soup was the best thing we tried.
I at at LED two weeks ago and the tea leaf salad was amazing, complex flavor and little red pepper slices that put a punch in every bite. I was excited to introduce it to my daughter, a big Burma Superstar fan, which I did today. And it was different. Much milder, not spicy. I spoke to the owner and she said they actually have two types of tea leaves and the one today was the "traditional". So one should ask for the non-traditional, I guess, which I'll do next time along with reminding them about the peppers.
Another quirk at LED is that the soups come to your table practically at room temperature. This time, I specifically asked for a little more microwave time and got it on the mohinga, but not on the coconut chicken. Something to keep in mind when ordering... the food is great and these are just some refinements to help enjoy the experience.