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Nov 24, 2008 08:44 AM

Back to Palo Alto’s Rangoon for Burmese

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to return to Rangoon in Palo Alto. It looks much the same and the prices have stayed very reasonable. The menu is largely Chinese-American with a sprinkling of Burmese dishes. The other tables around us were mostly eating chicken fried rice, mushu pork, and the like. However, we stuck to the Burmese fare.

We started with an appetizer of fried opo squash, served with sweet and sour dipping sauce. It’s been ages since I’ve last had this type of s&s sauce, and I felt the opo was better without it. William commented that the batter was thin, light and relatively greaseless. Mom said, “you shouldn’t fry that squash.”

Especially disappointing was a dish I’d liked here in the past, coconut chicken noodles. The coconut curry soup base was so thick and pasty, it felt more like mac n cheese. The pieces of chicken were quite juicy, but the overall dish lacked energy and complexity.

We also had lamb curry and a side of coconut rice. Mild and slightly sweet, the curry had a generous serving of lamb cubes. The flavors were rather simple, and it was not nearly as good as the pork curry we tried here years ago. With coconut rice, the combination was too confected. The palada was pretty good, but couldn’t compare to the stellar example I’d had at Pagan in San Francisco a few days earlier.

Highlight of our meal was the green beans with fried garlic and dried shrimp. Nice sear on the beans and some flavor punch from the seasoning elements.

The spice of the green beans against the sweet softness of the coconut rice was a winning combination. From this visit, those are the only two recommended dishes.

With tax and tip, the tab was only $41 for the three of us for more food than we could eat.

2002 post on Rangoon -

Rangoon Restaurant
565 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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  1. I like Rangoon because they are friendly and cheap, and there really isn't any other Burmese around that I know of. I also like them for their Americanized chinese (a lot because of the price and they are not Mr. Chau's in terms of grease or quality). I know I liked one of the sauceless Burmese dishes with chicken. Essentially curry flavors, and I remember just chicken and onions, but the onions picked up a lot of flavor from the curry powder. Went well with coconut rice. It has been quite awhile, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: P. Punko

      The odd thing this time is that our waiter at Rangoon was hardly familiar with the Burmese dishes. He couldn't even pronounce them. Though I will say that he was quite solicitous and checked back with us many times.

      There is another, Green Elephant, over by Rick's Ice Cream. We had a lackluster chowdown there two years ago when it was new. Maybe it's improved in the meantime. Would love to hear an update.

      **Big Game 2008**
      Cal 37
      Stanfurd 16

      Green Elephant Gourmet
      3950 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        When we've been, the owner or manager took us through the entire Burmese side of the menu, talking about the different dishes and pointing out which were Burmese, etc. I need to go back.

    2. I ate there about two weeks ago and had a roughly similar experience. I'm a huge fan of burmese tea leaf salad, and the version at rangoon had that great half-crunchy texture, but the tea taste was decidedly muted. We had a curry (shrimp, maybe?) and something else.

      Not memorable, obviously.

      It wasn't *bad*. The friendly unassuming atmosphere of an actual neighborhood Chinese place was the main draw (which I've been missing since the demise of Windy's).

      A friend of mine really likes the hot n sour soup there, so maybe the good part of the menu is chinese-american dishes? I'm hoping to go back and eat that part of the menu.

      5 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Had you eaten at Rangoon before? I'm wondering if it's gone downhill or my positive memories are faulty.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Had never before --- it was on the Restaurant Roulette wheel and finally came up. Sorry.

          1. re: bbulkow

            No sweat. Do keep us posted on your epic Restaurant Roulette eating.

        2. re: bbulkow

          The Chinese-American dishes there are well prepared, inexpensive versions of some of the usual. We haven't been in awhile, but it was similar to Windy's (when did they go out of business) in that regard (well prepared, unassuming C-A food, not greasy or ridiculous).

          BB- we like Wang's for neighborhood Chinese American. We haven't been in awhile- I'm always in the mood for it on Tuesdays and they aren't open on Tuesdays.

          Wang's - CLOSED
          2209 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

          1. re: P. Punko

            If it's Tuesday, it must be Chinese-Am?

        3. And how did you feel after the meal? I remember I was quite thirsty after a meal there, probably from MSG?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hapa Dude

            Other than feeling vaguely dissatisfied, no physical ill effects. In truth, I think that the chicken noodles could have benefited from some MSG to boost the chicken stock. The lamb and the green beans were already umami-laden as is. Did you order from the Burmese or Chinese side of the menu?