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Apr 19, 2009 09:52 PM

Larkin Express (Deli) Burmese Kitchen: final very late lunch in SF

We started off our day at Sentinel for a light snack, so by the time we had finished our wander about the library (there was a great book sale in the lobby) and an excellent tour of the SF city hall after 3, we were ready for some heartier fare. We headed over to Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen, as I was told they are now calling themselves by affable owner Dennis Lin. We way overordered because I was keen to try a variety of dishes but the bill was still only $33. We had pork curry, samusa soup, Burmese fried rice, garlic noodles with chicken, tea leaf salad (see pic – no lettuce, Dave_MP, just a little cabbage), side of sour leaf and a dried shrimp condiment. We also tried the hot and cold versions of Burmese tea. Mr Lin kept the restaurant open well past his usual closing time to accommodate us and explained that he has to go to Burma to get certain ingredients as if they are grown here at all they are not organic, which I thought was quite intriguing. I once again adored the tea leaf salad here (we had it once before a couple of trips ago) and really wished we could have done justice to the other dishes, particularly the samusa soup. Not every dish was a knockout (no duds though) but they all worked so well together that it was worth the (sob!) waste of overordering to eat that way. He is now open for dinner on both Friday and Saturday and is considering opening every night now that the remodel has occurred and the space looks more resto-y and less deli. That’s him in the bad photo. This meal combined with the Pagan chowdown
underscores how much I wish we had a Burmese restaurant or three in Vancouver. Yet another reason to return to the Bay area…

PS Because we ate so late we dodged the bullet of airport food :-).

And here's the list of other places/things we ate this trip, if you're interested:

Five days of fine foods in San Francisco March 2009
Dennis Leary-fest in SF: Canteen, Sentinel, Canteen, Sentinel
A maroon macaron in SF and two Gibraltars
To market, to market to buy some roast pig (SF Ferry Plaza
First day pizza al piatto at Bao Necci and Friday feed at Bund Shanghai. SF
Beef 7 ways at Pagolac, SF: a little meh; Murphy’s and Sharks at Johnny Foley’s. SF
Mission impossible? Dynamo, La Torta Gorda, Humphry Slocombe all in 1.5 hours after Canteen brekky, SF
Just another Manic Monday: going Dottie, then tamale, then Dol Ho-ey, then Cavalli, then Aziza-y in SF

Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. I've just read all the posts on your recent visit, and I really must thank you! You've done a better job from far away sussing out all these delicious places than I ever could living half an hour away. That quesadilla con flor de calabaza is taking root in my brain, and I've marked the pizza at Bao Necci for my next trip up to North Beach. In fact, I think I'll just use your 5 Days of Food thread as my next to-eat list.

    I'm sorry the alfajores didn't suit you: I just love tender, crumbly cookies and caramel so much that I assume that everyone does, too. But I was not surprised that you didn't care for the prawns at Canteen: you Vancouver folk are so darn spoiled when it comes to seafood! I have yet to have a shrimp or prawn dish in the Bay Area that can measure up to a simple platter of steamed spotted prawns in BC. When you wistfully recall all the delightful meals you've just had (which we've vicariously but gratefully enjoyed with you), think of me sitting here, fantasizing about those sweet, fat Canadian prawns,, the succulent King salmon, 6-year old cheddar, ice wine, White Spot burgers. . . The grass is always greener (in patches, at least).

    Again, thank you for sharing your delectable trip!

    1 Reply
    1. re: pilinut

      pili, I don't know whether to thank you or offer you a medal for slogging through all my ramblings :-). It really is such fun for me to relive all those tasty (and even the not-so-tasty bites) whilst writing them up. And BTW, if I see any kind of squash-esque blossoms on offer, I have to try them -- I'm still pining for the tempura-battered zucchini blossoms from last summer's Feast in the Field at UBC.

      I don't think those alfajores were un-Chow-worthy -- I think I just don't love them in general. The prawns surprised me, and I still can't work out if it was the creatures themselves or the prep I didn't go for. I agree we have a good thing going with the spot prawns here, even though I'm not sure I can ever eat them again after my run in with a pound of particularly aggressive live ones last season. I think I will stick to having other people prepare them for me :-).

      I have already started gathering intel for our next trip to your lovely lovely city which I hope will be in November. This board is such a font of info and the 'Hounds that haunt it are just A-one.

      PS My latest tactical proposal: dropping breakfast and starting to graze/snack on specifically targeted items earlier in the day... and she's off again :-).

    2. I got the samusa soup (one of the new items on the much-expanded Burmese menu) yesterday, and thought maybe it wasn't as good as Burma Superstar's, but I had some leftover soup today, and now I think maybe it's better and was just too hot to enjoy at first.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Not as good because . . . texture, seasoning, complexity?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I'd like to know your thoughts on that soup, too, Robert, as I've been mulling over whether I liked it better at Pagan or LE! Of course in both cases my verdict would be based on only one visit each so hardly a good sample, but I think I would give the edge to LE as being heartier, with lots of textural contrasts and less what I think of as "Indian" spicing if that makes any sense.

          I'm learning that I prefer Burmese dishes that DON'T taste like I could maybe get them at an East Indian restaurant. I understand there is that influence in Burmese cuisine; this is a personal preference and nothing against that style of cooking.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Complex seasoning. I have to check out the new BS branch so I'll refresh my memory and post more.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks for this and your HS reply -- I really wish we had comparable or even similar options in Vancouver (yea, I know, the grass is always greener...).

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Comparison done. Burma Superstar Temescal's samusa soup is good but Larkin Express's is better.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Thanks for the word. Anything else to report in this thread on the new BSS?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Yeah, I posted more in that topic. Bottom line, Larkin Express does everything better and costs less. Too bad their hours aren't longer.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Please note that Larkin Express is now called Burmese Kitchen, and more importantly, open for dinner every day except Monday.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          new hours: Monday 10:30 am - 3:00 pm, Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 am - 8:30 pm. Closed Sunday. Happy Hour $2 beers 4 pm to 6 pm
                          Go now and request 10% discount on your dinner tab!

          2. I never got a chance to try the samusa soup at LED, but I'm glad to hear it's good.

            I already miss Burmese food.

            I plan on searching all of London for good Burmese food next year, even if it means heading way out to the suburbs or eating in someone's house! But a quick google search already produced some leads...