Chowdown at Yellow Pa Taut - Burmese in SOMA - Report
15 hounds gathered last night at Yellow Pa Taut in SOMA for a great meal. I really enjoyed meeting new hounds and seeing familiar faces from past events - I also really enjoyed the food!
Here's a list of what we had - once others start commenting, I'll chime in again with my thoughts, but I wanted to get the conversation started.
#1 - Samosas
#5 - Fried Opo (Bu Thee Kyaw)
#6 - Fried shrimp w/ bean sprout w/ special sauce
#14 - Coconut Curry Chicken
#17 - Burmese pork belly curry
#41 - Tea Lead salad
#42 - Ginger salad
#39 - Baya Kyaw and Samosa Salad
#24 - Fish Cake Curry
#23 - Burmese Curry Catfish
#51 - Garlic Rice Noodles w/ Sliced Pork
#19 - Beef Biryani
#56 - Sour leaves w/ bamboo shoots
#47 - Mohinga (catfish and noodle soup)
#46 - Ohn No Khauk Swe (Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup)
#9 - Paratha (plain)
#62 - Raw veggies w/ shrimp paste
For dessert, we shared:
#70 - Semolina cake
#74 - Falooda (ice cream, rose syrup, jello, tapioca)
I think that was it....though there might be something I'm forgetting? Looking forward to reading the reports....
Yellow Pa Taut
15 Boardman Pl, San Francisco, CA 94103
I ordered 1 baya kyaw and samosa salad to-go tonight. I asked for it spicy. This dish wasn't as good take-out, since everything got a bit too soggy, but it was still quite tasty. The extra spice took the form of slivers of green chili, so it was quite hot!
With tax, this salad was over 10 dollars, which is on the expensive side, but I suppose it is made up of several labor intensive ingredients, so I guess it's reasonable. I wouldn't necessarily order this dish as take-out again, but I will definitely order take-out for other dishes in the future. It was easy to double park in the alleyway while I ran in to get my food.
re: Dave MP
Hmmm, I must have seen you because a friend and I were the only ones eating there tonight. We had the paratha with chicken, garlic (egg) noodles with sliced pork, catfish in yellow curry and what I'm guessing was chicken skewers on the house. The paratha was a bit disappointing to me since the layers weren't flaky and the chicken skewers were a bit one dimensional but otherwise everything was pretty good. I thought the noodles were pretty good although light on the garlic but I like the texture of the noodles especially mixed with the spicy pickled vegetables that came with it.
I was a latecomer too and missed the samosas and fried opo. Here are my quick comments on the remainder.
#6 - Fried shrimp w/ bean sprout w/ special sauce – Didn’t try the sauce, but loved the crunchy, sweet shrimp. One of my favorites of the night, and I had this cold.
#14 - Coconut Curry Chicken – Delicious and on the light side, succulent dark meat chicken with the skin.
#17 - Burmese pork belly curry – Disappointing, blander curry sauce and the pork belly was rushed, I think, as the skin wasn’t softened, the fat layer hadn’t been rendered, and the texture of the meat was fibrous from cooking at too high a heat.
#41 - Tea Leaf salad – A unique expression here, liked the shredded cabbage, not shy with the fish sauce.
#42 - Ginger salad – Good enough, but I’m not a fan of pickled ginger for these salads.
#39 - Baya Kyaw and Samosa Salad – Soggy but very tasty samosa pieces, masala-type spices, commendable that all three salads tasted different from each other.
#24 - Fish Cake Curry – Soft and tender fish cakes (not rubbery at all) in a well-turned, brothy curry bath. Another that was high on my list.
#23 - Burmese Curry Catfish – Non-muddy, buttery fleshed slabs of catfish cooked on the bone in a yellow curry sauce, liked this very much too.
#51 - Garlic Rice Noodles w/ Sliced Pork – My least favorite of the evening.
#19 - Beef Biryani – Well-made saffron rice, but the beef curry served alongside suffered from stringy, dried out cubes of meat.
#56 - Sour leaves w/ bamboo shoots – A let down here, as I loved the version at Pagan. Seemed out of balance in salting and chili heat.
#47 - Mohinga (catfish and noodle soup) – Adored this one for its comfort food qualities, thick fish chowder flecked with curry spices, hard-boiled eggs, and crunchy fried yellow peas served on the side. I’d like to have this for breakfast.
#46 - Ohn No Khauk Swe (Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup) – This is my standard for comparing Burmese restaurants, and the version here was below average and not nearly as tasty as the chicken curry we’d had earlier. Wheat flour noodles were thick and firmish. But the overall presentation was rather plain, i.e., no fried shallots, eggs, and needed more chili heat too.
#9 - Paratha (plain) – Listed on the menu accompanied by a choice of curries, but we asked if we could just have the plain parathas, since we had so many kinds of curry with tasty sauces on the table. Our server checked with the kitchen and it was a “go”. Nicely done with lots of layers, a little unevenly browned and I got a chuckle watching jiong cast an experienced eye to scan the pieces to pick the very prime portion.
#62 - Raw veggies w/ shrimp paste – The balachaung itself was very good with aggressive chili heat, dried shrimp, garlic and other savories. But it didn’t meld well with the cabbage leaves or sliced cukes, imo.
For dessert, we shared:
#70 - Semolina cake – Surprisingly soft, I was expecting something firmer and/or chewier. Liked the coconut flavors.
#74 - Falooda (ice cream, rose syrup, jello, tapioca) – Better than anticipated, huge serving.
Sorry, no photos because they’re trapped on my laptop, which is on the fritz and in the shop right now. Hope we'll hear some more opinions.
Many thanks to my co-host, Dave MP, good job of ordering from the huge menu!
This was my second time eating Burmese food and it was a fabulous experience. We were able to order a wide variety of things and it is always fun to get the opinions of fellow chowhounders.
Things that I really enjoyed:
Ginger salad - really refreshing and cleansed the palate. It had a lot of slivers of ginger and whole peanuts. I always hate when people serve ginger salads where the ginger is cut up into pieces you can't even see.
Tea leaf salad - like others have said, it had a really great balance of flavors and textures
Fish cake curry and curry catfish - really good fishy flavor. I really liked the tomato broth that went with the fish cake curry.
Sauce that went with the samosas - i like that it was spicy and had herbs in it.
Coconut curry chicken - really great flavors and the chicken was done perfectly. It was extremely moist and tender. The paratha with the curry chicken sauce was fantastic.
The Falooda was very interesting. I have never had one with cake in it. It was actually quite refreshing at the end of the meal.
Overall, I found that aside from the sauce for the fried dishes, nothing was very spicy. It would have been nice to have one or two of the curries more spicy to break the monotony of curries. I will probably come back here since I live in Potrero Hill, parking is abundant, and it really is not seedier than the Tenderloin.
Thanks again to Dave and Melanie for hosting.
Well, Burmese food really isn't very spicy. I was there 18 months ago, and remarked that over and over again. For that reason I loved the Indian restaurants in Burma. I think the standouts of the cuisine are the salads and the noodle soups, and the vegetable sautes. Also, the spice is added by condiments like balachuang which are served with the meal, adding a pungent salty fishy spicy kick!
The table top condiment caddy included dried chili pepper flakes, as well as fish sauce, if anyone wanted to adjust the seasoning. The menu notes that can be ordered "mild, hot, extra hot or non-spicy". Since I wasn't there for the ordering round, can someone tell us what heat level was specified, if any?
There was a dizzying variety of dishes and flavors; my palate could hardly keep pace. Standouts were the tea leaf salad (fresh flavors, each ingredient stood out even if I didn't know what to call it, better preparation than either Larkin Express [texture limper, flavors muddier] or Burma Superstar [ok but overpriced and not worth the wait]), samosa salad (haven't had this before--great blend of ingredients, although the samosas were a bit sodden from the sauce) and the fish cake curry (sauces were generally good, heat level just about right). Other dishes were average: biryani dry and not very flavorful, noodle dishes were bland.
Service was friendly and well-paced, decor whimsical (architectural embellishments on various walls, including a slice of the Golden Gate Bridge and the entrance to an Etruscan (or otherwise) temple), charmingly tucked in behind Alladin Bail Bonds, just off Bryant. Total per person, including tip, was $22, a good value.
Thanks to Dave and Melanie for organizing and to Dave for judicious ordering!
Here are some more specific comments:
I wasn't a big fan of any of the fried appetizers - the samosas were okay, but I didn't think the shrimp or the fried squash were that good. I guess the frying was done pretty well, but none of it was too exciting.
I really enjoyed the salads - especially the baya kyaw and samosa salad, which I hadn't had before at any of the other Burmese places. It had sweetness from the tamarind, but was also quite spicy. Delicious - I would definitely order this again. The tea leaf salad was also good - it had cabbage instead of lettuce, whole peanuts, and larger chunks of tomato. I like every tea leaf salad, and I like the fact that it's slightly different at every Burmese place I've been to in SF. I only had a small bite of the ginger salad, but it was good too.
Other highlights for me included the fish cake curry (I liked the light broth and the almost-fluffy fish cakes), the paratha, and the mohinga. The mohinga was more gingery than the version at Larkin Express Deli.
I didn't get to try the pork belly, but I heard good things from others at the table. I thought the noodles w/ sliced pork were only OK. Chicken curry, coconut chicken curry and the curry chicken noodle soup were all pretty good.
I wasn't a fan of the falooda, but I generally don't care for this type of dessert. I did like the semolina dessert - similar to a version I had at LED as well, and perhaps once at Pagan too?
This is not the greatest neighborhood, and I would have never noticed it since I never have been on Boardman Pl. before, but like jhinky says, it's worth keeping in mind, since it's actually quite close to neighborhoods like Potrero Hill, the Mission and even Union Square.
I was also impressed by the size of the menu. The variety of Burmese options was impressive - larger menu than LED, Pagan or Burma Superstar I think.
Again, it was great to eat with everyone, and I look forward to reading more reports!
Firom Steve Posin
Not being too familiar w/Burmese food, this was a new and exciting experience for me. Dave MP took the lead in ordering the many dishes, somehow a Burmese food maven of sorts, deferring to special requests graciously.
Samosas were tasty and crisp. Opu, a kind of squash, ok. I LOVED the fried large shrimps in mung-bean and sauce - tasty and crunchy. The tea -leaf salad (Dave - you listed it as " tea lead " salad - was a new taste to me. I swear I could not taste tea leaves (or lead mercifully) but whatever amalalgam of spices and tastes were included were dellightful. I liked the curry dishes but the "sour leaves" (guesses were sorrel or taro leaves) were not to my taste at all. A dessert of semolina cakes which SOUNDED dull were surprisingly sweet and cleansing.
I loved the variety and many new tastes but not being one to be able to discern individual ingredients depended entirely upon others who seemed to have uncanny skills in delineating what was in each dish.
This place is on a side street just across from the main entrance to the Hall of Justice so next time you get called for Jury Duty or are visiting a friend in jaill you know where to have lunch.
A word of architectural note: the building next store, , Helena's Bail Bonds, has a street -level entrance that was a cross between a down-and-out British B+B, a seedy funeral home and a massage parlor. I half expected Diane Arbus to resurrect herself to photograph this oddity.
We arrived late and missed the samosas. The fried shrimp were tasty with their heads on. I liked how spicy the Baya Kyaw and Samosa salad was. All three salads were fresh yet spicy and intricate. My friend S really loved the Tea Leaf Salad which neither of us have had before - so we can't really compare it to BSS or the other places in the city. My other favorite was the curry catfish which had a gingery soupy gravy that was great with rice. [It tasted a lot like a kalia if anybody is familiar with bengali food]. The Mohinga and the Kauk Swe had similar broths but the Khauk Swe was lighter tasting and the one I preferred. The paratha was pretty well-made and flaky probably through the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil or lard.
I also rather liked the desserts, which I had had pretty low expectations about from other reviewers online.
Overall nothing so amazing that folks need to run down to a rather seedy neighborhood but definitely worth keeping in mind along with the usual places in the tenderloin for reasonably priced and different asian food.