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Mar 25, 2008 09:26 PM

Review: Little Rangoon - Scottsdale

I love trying new Asian restaurants. My love of Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese is well-known. I recently saw mention of a new restaurant near Scottsdale and Shea that serves Burmese food. Little Rangoon labels themselves as "Taste of Burma" on their menus. They tout that Burma shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand and that their cuisine has been influenced by this proximity. Since that sounded really good to me, I put it on my "to-do" list.

A couple weekends ago, Tara suggested we try Samarkand on a Friday night. We got there at 7:30 to find it closed. This would become a recurring theme for the little Uzbeki place. I was in the mood to try something new, so I suggested Little Rangoon. We headed over and found them in the same plaza where Sushi on Shea, Tapino, Claim Jumper, and others call home at 70th St and Shea. We parked underground and took the escalator up to the restaurant.

We entered the restaurant to find only a handful of tables occupied. The space is very pretty, minimally decorated, but enough to convey it's ethnic leanings. A very friendly waitress seated us and we looked over the menu. The descriptions of the menu items made most of them sound very enticing. I love fresh spring rolls and they listed several offerings with either roasted duck, butter dipped prawns, or tofu. They come two per order and you can't mix and match. I wanted to try one duck and one prawn, but the waitress said they had to be the same. We settled on the roasted and shredded duck meat glazed with Hoisin sauce. For entrees, garlicaholic Tara got the Si Gyet Kauswer (Garlic Noodles) - Fresh egg wonton noodles tossed in fried garlic oil and scallions with either roasted chicken (Tara's option) or roasted duck. I opted for the Singapore Noodles - Rice vermicelli stir fried with pork, shrimp, shredded carrots, celery, onions, tumeric, and ginger. Tara got a Coke and I think I stuck with water.

The spring rolls arrived first. They were... boring. Filled mostly with chopped iceberg lettuce with small amounts of the other fillings and thin strips of the duck. Neither of us could discern much flavor from the duck and the lettuce drowned out any other flavors. Pretty much any Vietnamese or Thai place that offers spring rolls offers more flavorful ones. Not a good start.

Our meals came out shortly after we finished the rolls. Tara's noodles looked like they had a lot of garlic, but again, there was no flavor. Her dish also seemed to be more on the lukewarm side of things. She prefers her food to be searing or at least hot. I took a bite and agreed that it was very bland.

My noodles had a strong yellow hue from the turmeric but neither it or the ginger added any flavor. The temperature of dish was fine. Everything seemed cooked well, but there was just no flavor.

Service was fine. The waitress was very helpful when we asked numerous questions about the menu. Drinks were kept filled. No complaints there.

Overall, we hoped for far more bold flavors from a place that says they combine Thai and Indian influences at the very least. Prices aren't bad, as both our entrees were $8, but you can certainly find much better food for the same price elsewhere.

Little Rangoon
7000 E Shea Blvd Ste 1580, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

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  1. I think that location is cursed. The place before it, Furphy's, only lasted a few months. And my wife and I were dining at Tapino one night as we watched the creditors removing the restaurant fixtures from the place before that!

    1. darn!! you guys beat me to it!! i sooo wanted to these guys!! we snuck into burma/myanmar when we were in chiang mai a couple of years back. lots of soldiers and no street food :( so i was finally hoping to try something stellar!! was it so 'meh' you don't think you'll go back?

      2 Replies
      1. re: winedubar

        "Meh" was Tara's impression. It's possible we ordered poorly, but how do you make a bland Garlic Noodles? Maybe they are still working out kinks. According to the waitress, we just missed a huge rush.

        1. re: winedubar

          I'd consider trying it again. It's very possible that we ordered badly. Although, I have problems with that too, given my philosophy that "if it's on the menu, it should be good".

        2. Oh, thanks for the report - I've been meaning to get there, but having a hard time getting my non-Chowhound friends to try Burmese. I still want to try it, but now I know to skip the spring rolls, though I was looking forward to the garlic noodles. Disappointing, and I hope it's just a fluke and that they haven't toned-down the cuisine for broader appeal....

          1. Never having Burmese food and following a quick look see on the chow board, i approached a friend's invitation to Little Rangoon with a quite bit of trepidation. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how good some of the dishes were. My impression was that Burmese food kind of like Thai food without the chilli burn and a much lighter hand on the various seasonings.

            For appetizer, I avoided the spring roll (thanks for the warning Firenza00) and went for the crispy gourd fritter instead. The vegetable itself was on the bland side, but the crispy tempura-like crust and sweet chilli (barely spicy) dipping sauce made the dish a winner.

            I also had the tea salad which I quite like, though I would agree that the crispy garlic bits within the salad was so subtly flavored that it verged on being bland. But it all works well in balance with the other elements in the dish which comprises of lightly flavored tea leaves, the crunchy peas, sesame, cabbage and tomatoes. Over all a tasty treat.

            The absolute winner of the night and the dish that will be bringing me back to Little Rangoon would be the Burmese Traditional Fish Curry which is actually panfried catfish chunks lightly topped with a curry sauce. The fish was meltingly tender and the flavors were kicked up by a spicy hint of chili. Delicious enough for multiple repeats

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodie_21

              I'm at the office and no time for a multi-paragraph review but I wanted to drop a note for the weekend crowd - I really like this place! Of the 5 things we ordered, four were excellent and one was very good. Some of the curries will remind some of Indian curries - just toned down a bit. Very savory food.

              If you like curry, just ask for some of the stronger curries.

              Great little spot, relatively inexpensive and definitely worth a trip!

            2. Just a note on Burmese food -- we haven't tried Little Rangoon, but this place may be more authentic than you think. We have become friends with a Karen refugee family from Burma, and of the food that they prepare that we have tasted so far, much of it seems somewhat on the bland side to us, and it is often eaten at room temperature. When we first met them I looked on the internet to get an idea of what ingredients they might use, then bought some of those things at Lee Lee to take to the family. A number of the things I bought were unfamiliar to them, including sesame oil, paprika, and some other spices. Although they do use chili flakes, they seem to serve them as a condiment to be added as needed, and their food is not highly spiced. They have lived for many years in refugee camps and subsisted on mostly rice, fish paste and vegetables that they were able to grow, so maybe their diet is not a typical one that they would have eaten if they were living a peaceful life in Burma. Perhaps someday we will take them to Little Rangoon and see what they think of it.