Chowdown at Mingalaba in Burlingame
I joined four others for a great lunch of Burmese food today at Minglaba in Burlingame. We ordered:
[Burmese Fried Squash and Onion -- they were out of this, so instead we got]
Burmese Vegetarian Samusas
Tea Leaf Salad (Lap Pat Dok)
Moo Hing Nga soup
(Burmese styled fish chowder soup with lemongrass, ginger, onion and garlic)
Burmese Style Pan Fried String Bean with dry shrimp and tofu
House Special Noodles
(Flat noodle with coconut chicken, lime leaves, yellow pea powder, onion and fried noodles on top)
Burmese Style Noodle
(Noodles tossed with cucumbers, potatoes, chili sauce, dried shrimp and cabbage)
For the five of us, including tax and tip, it was $17 a person, and we were all full and had food leftover. My favorite dishes were the palatha (though Cecily said that it was greasier than when she had had it in the past), the tea leaf salad, and the String Beans, which had an amazing flavor and texture from the spice paste that was used, hopefully someone there will chime in with the name of it. We wanted to order the ginger salad, but we were told that it was similar to the tea leaf, so we ordered that and the rainbow salad instead. The house special noodle had a great flavor from the kaffir lime leaves that were used.
We particularly asked for the regular menu, because there were lots of lunch specials on the lunch menu, but we wanted to sample a range of the menu. There are a lot of chinese dishes on the menu, but everything that is Burmese has an asterisk, so that's something to look out for. We avoided most of the meat of the menu, and stuck to appetizers, salads, sides and noodles, which I think served us well.
Thanks to all who came, I had a great time lunching with you!
1213 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010
Hey. I tried Mingalaba a few weeks back. The tea leaf salad well...wasn't exactly my cup of tea.
The house special noodles were okay...but i really want to give this place another try so if you guys eat there again please let me know what dishes you enjoyed again. btw the soup sounds good. thanks
It was a really enjoyable meal with old and new hounds.
My favorite dishes were
Green Bean Salad, with the Ma La Jon seasoning. A shrimp, pepper, and pickled vegetable seasoning. Which the name Jasmine was looking for.
Love the two noodles, one with great flavor and the other with a contrast in textures.
We were given a Mango pudding to complete the meal
I will be back to try more later.
Thanks to J and M for hosting.
Thanks, yimster, for filling in the name of the seasoning -- I forgot to say that they make it inhouse, and it was really fantastic with the green beans. I adored that Tea Leaf Salad, I was still thinking about it as I drove home tonight, I want to go back to get that for lunch again soon. Such a great textural contrast and flavor combinations, and so refershing; that will be a perfect lunch for hot days this summer.
I'd been to Mingalaba once before, for lunch, but enjoyed this meal much more. Daveena, who originally rec'd this place to me, and I agreed that the entrees (between us we'd tried chicken curry, spicy basil chicken, mango chicken and Rangoon beef) were like "boring quasi-Chinese dishes," in her words -- including the basil chicken and Rangoon beef, which are nominally Burmese. I was blown away by the rich and delicate palatha, though, served with dipping sauces like Malaysian roti canai. Actually, one sauce was like what you get with roti canai -- a sort of coconut curry -- and the other was dal-like, but not so flavorful.
So for the chowdown, I was really happy to try more Burmese dishes from the regular menu. The palatha was just a tad greasier than before, but still as easy to rip as a tissue, a good sign. On my previous visit, I'd thought the fermented tea leaf salad was too funky for me (and the tea leaves are ground, which I found odd... previously I've had them whole), but on the second visit I found it had kinda grown on me. It's a small portion, so it's not meant to overwhelm. Incidentally, I had the ginger salad before and it was really good.
My favorite was probably the string beans. That garlicky, spicy shrimp paste, fried along with the beans, is irresistible -- I found myself picking bits of it off the platter. I also really liked the mo hing nga, which I've had before and wasn't excited by. It's still a subtle pleasure, but quite a soothing one despite its orangey appearance. The fish tends to dissolve in the broth rather than remain in chunks, and there are rice vermicelli in there as well.
Of the two noodle dishes, I fell for the one perfumed with wisps of kaffir lime leaf (house special?). The noodles were linguine-like, though not as delicate as the similar noodles I had in khao soi at Nong's Spicy BBQ in L.A. -- yum! The other noodle dish was not that interesting to me.
Samosas were okay, in a thin spring-roll type wrapper, served with a thin, spicy sauce. They were fried but not greasy.
Rainbow salad -- I couldn't stop thinking of this as Burmese chap chae, since it has the same cellophane noodles as the Korean dish. The noodles were soaked in a sweet-and-spicy sauce, and tossed with the other salad ingredients like the tea leaf salad. This to me was also okay but not great, but I think I have a prejudice against this type of noodle.
Some late comments on this lunch:
I was happy to see a little broader range of Burmese dishes here and hope that there will be more to come as the management weans the previous customers off the "chinese" fare. We were waited on by one of the owners who confirmed that another family member had taken over Mandalay in the City. The Mandalay chef stayed put, and Mingalaba has its own new chef at the helm. The cooking style here felt more refined, brighter and delicate than Mandalay. That's not to say that it's sterile like Burma SuperStar's. Presentation has been well thought out for restaurant service vs. homestyle.
I was a bit disappointed to get the word from the kitchen that it had run out of "powder" for making the fried squash. Had been hoping for something like I had at the Burmese monastery in Half Moon Bay, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36495 . Substituting samosas didn't quite do it for me While non-greasy, fresh and crisp, they were also quite bland even with the dipping sauce.
I liked the tea leaf salad, much better than B Star B's version. The two noodle dishes were fine and enjoyable, and a new take I've not seen before around here, but not craved things for me. I wanted something gutsier.
My favorite dish would be the mohinga. The extra refinement in this fish chowder suited me, sort of surprising, as I usually vote for homier preps.
The ngapi kyaw (belachaung) for the green beans was a wonderment of umami. I'd like to try it with water spinach (ong choi) next. Not on the menu, but ask if it's available during the season (which is now).
Thanks all for a terrific chowdown, and especially to honu for the photos.
Another thread on Mingalaba, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/533064
The Road Back to Mandalay, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349851