Little Yangon, Authentic Burmese in Daly City
Just ate here this week, Fantastic food, friendly service, extensive menu. Open 10-10 everyday. This place puts the Burmese restaurants in SF to shame and is filled with local Burmese immigrants. They also sell Tea Leaves and other Burmese products. Anyone else been?
I had a mediocre experience at Little Yangon years ago, after it had received a bit of chowhound hype, so it took me a while to get back. After striking out at Haig's (they no longer carry it?) and Myanmar Pyi Thar (closed, despite posted hours) on packaged tea leaves I finally stopped by Little Yangon again. I obdained the desired packaged salad, and got a much better meal than my first time here. There has been a remodel and they no longer microwaved the dishes behind the counter in the dining room. I got the mohinga and the pickled shrimp salad. The young server claimed these were her favorites, and they were just what I was in the mood for, as I wasn't that hungry. The mohinga was nice and thick, served with plenty of accompaniments--chili flake, yellow bean fritters, lime, and cilantro.
I really liked the pickled shrimp salad, and haven't come across it before. Initially it seemed like a less acidic ceviche, then I realized that the shrimp were a chopped and compressed product. I was initially wary of a salad of mostly raw red onion, thought they seem to have been soaked to remove their bite, and the overall mix was very pleasing. I'll definitely be back.
Our group of six met for lunch Thursday at Little Yangon. We had--
#3 Fried Tofu (made from chana dal with house special sauce)
#5 Tea Leaf Salad
#21 Mandalay Myee Shay (rice stick noodles with pork and pickled mustard leaf)
#28 Moh Hinga (Cat fish chowder)
#41 Pork Curry with Chin Bong (Pork curry cooked with sour leaves)
#48 Fish Curry
#59 Chin Bong Jaw (Burmese-style sour vegetables sauteed with green chili, chopped shrimp & bamboo shoots)
#62 Tea leaves Rice
#63 Coconut Rice
#71 Soup of the Day (dal and cabbage soup) (comp’ed)
#84 Moh Se Kyaw (Burmese fried crispy dessert, made with rice flour, peanuts, sesame seed & shredded coconut)
#86 Mango Pudding (comp’ed)
First to come out were the palatas, fried tofu and tea leaf salad. The palatas were great- crispy on the outside, flavorful and soft inside. I could say the same about the fried tofu, but the sauce it came with didn’t add much. The tea leaf salad had some nice texture but not as much flavor as some others I’ve had.
The Mohinga soup was not the thick porridge that others have described and there would have been no point in asking for more broth, but the flavor was good. It would have benefited from the addition of some nice crunchy extras but my share was quite small and I ate it with only lime juice added, which definitely perked it up. The Soup of the Day also benefited from some added lime juice.
The highlight of the meal for me was the Chin Bong Jaw, especially when eaten on a palata. It had a great complex flavor. I also really liked the Myee Shay. The curries were good but not awesome. The Moh Se Kyaw dessert was very good, nice and crispy with good flavor, but the comp’ed mango pudding was almost tasteless with a boring dense texture.
We got a lot of food for $13 per person (including tip). None of the dishes were very spicy. I’d go back for the palatas, Chin Bong Jaw, Myee Shay, and Moh Se Kyaw.
Keep forgetting to post that when I stopped by last month, Little Yangon was offering a "Spring Special". I just called to see if it's still on, and yes, it's still available. Mornings every day except Tuesday, some dishes are available for only $5. Don't know if they're smaller, but in any case, here's the list and info:
It had been more than year since my last visit, and it was a pleasant surprise to see the new decor and table settings.
A couple dishes I'd not tried before ---
Mohinga - the thick style, very filling and comforting
Fried housemade yellow pea tofu, creamy-centered and delicately crisp on the outside. Some pieces crunchy all the way through. Refreshingly tart dipping sauce.
Went for lunch yesterday. The place was fairly busy, looked like mostly Burmese.
Mohinga, (chana dal) tofu salad, palata with chicken curry, pun thay noodle (fried thick round wheat? noodles with coconut milk etc.), balachang, and coconut rice were all great. They threw in a couple of small bowls of dal to finish the meal, also delicious.
The palata is like a Malabar paratha aka malawach. I don't think they add any sugar, though.
The one dish I wouldn't order again was salted fish sauce with vegetables. The dipping sauce was good but it was a weird assortment of vegetables including bamboo shoot, banana blossom, dahendi, some kind of bland squash, and cabbage.
I'm really eager to go back to try more. Lots of interesting dishes I've never heard of before.
Has anyone been back to LY since the Groupon offer? It seems the Yelp reviews have dropped precipitously since the Groupon-- complaints of meager portions and microwave use abound. I was hoping to take the in-laws over for dinner this week. Thanks for any assistance.
I went in mid-December (and used my Groupon). I thought it was pretty good. I think we had a curry and a couple noodle dishes, plus a palata. I glanced at the Yelp reviews and don't recall hearing any microwaves at all, but maybe I'm not very observant. Everything was piping hot, and the service was as nice as ever. But as Civil Bear notes, it was empty and I wouldn't be surprised if they were struggling.
I would not go out of the way to have dinner at LY. Some of the microwaved items (or more specifically Chin Bong Jaw) were overcooked and dried left out too long at the counter. Very disappointing to hear that microwave ding and realized that was your dish. It's probably ok as a quick lunch spot (probably fresher as well) though. Portions were small. This was a few months ago.
I go every other few weekends for breakfast. Everytime I branch out for a new dish, I'm kind of disappointed.... however the Mohinga saves the day ever time. I hear the microwave pretty frequently, but the only thing i get that uses it is the cream of wheat dessert. The best Burmese food I ever had was in the Burmese section of Taipei... all the food just sat in bowls on a table, and was heated up in a microwave, so the microwave isn't a deal breaker for me, yet.
LY still has my favorite Mohinga, out of Burma Super Star, Burmese Kitchen and Pagan. I prefer the dishes at burmese kitchen more (especially the pork with pickled mango) The owner of LY is really nice.
Did you know they have 2 kitchens in the back? 1 is for making grocery store sushi. No joke.
I ate here a few weeks ago with some friends and loved it. Almost every dish was good to excellent – for me, the standouts were:
Nan Gyi Dok – thick rice noodles yellow with split pea powder, tossed with curried chicken, onion, and bean sprouts, this was much spicier than other versions I’ve had, and absolutely delicious. It managed to be both mellow and piquant, and dared us to finish it off when we were already distended from overenthusiastic noshing.
Chin Bong Jaw – this was the table’s favorite. The sour vegetable/bamboo combo reminds me of the pickled mustard green/bamboo combination I love so much in my favorite Shanghaiese dishes, but this had an additional pungency from shrimp paste, and an addictive chili kick.
Fermented bean paste salad (I forget the Burmese name – this dish is not listed on the takeout menu posted online) – this was a small dish of mostly red onions and cilantro (I think… forgot to take pictures) and a bit of pungent fermented bean paste. The flavor was fascinating – eaten straight, the paste tasted almost exactly like anchovy paste. Mixed with the coconut rice, it took on chocolatey overtones.
Also excellent were the tender/crisp multi-layered paratha, served with a very good spicy chicken curry, the tea leaf salad (lighter, more lime-y, and less pungent than Mingalaba’s, but just as good), a mellow pork and pickled mustard leaf noodle (Mandalay Myee Shay), and the weekend special crab curry (they didn’t have fish head curry that day – the crab curry was delicious, but I think I’d prefer fish head curry just because I have yet to perfect the art of eating crab in a soupy red sauce without splattering everything around me).
Good but not stellar were the fried squash (expertly fried, but a little bland, and the accompanying sauce tasted suspiciously like the “duck sauce” that comes in packets with Chinese-American takeout), the fried yellow tofu (the texture and flavor actually reminded me more of socca or farinata than tofu – it was a bit bland, but the leftovers, tossed in a container with some of our spicier leftovers, absorbed the flavors beautifully. It actually improved quite a bit as leftovers), the dry-cooked green beans (the chili sauce had less shrimp-paste pungency than I like).
The only miss was the spicy fried fish – small pieces of overfried, oversalted fish, coated in chili paste.
Overall, it was a pretty incredible hit rate. I'm just now catching up with reporting on some of my meals in the past month, and re-reading this makes me think it may be time to go back soon...
We just went tonight and also had the Shan noodles. Delicious. I thought of them as a lighter Dan Dan noodles with rice noodles. We also had the chicken coconut soup, paratha with chicken curry and tea leaf salad. Everything was great and the owner is so nice. We look forward to going back and trying other dishes, especially the lamb kebab. Also, the roasted pepper condiment they have is amazing. I hope they start selling that.
Stopped in today and had the Kyae Oo (clear broth with rice vermicelli, pork, pork liver, pork meatballs,quail egg, mustard greens). Simpler than I expected but good.
In a disappointing turn of events, the Shan noodles I enjoyed so much are no longer on the menu. When I asked why, I was told something to the effect of "people didn't like them." Strange. My feeling was that they can't be ordered off-menu either, but I didn't push. Wonder if the sauce contained some hard-to-find ingredient that they can't get anymore.
Just went here for lunch. The people are very nice and generous. The menu has changed and has several additions/notes, but I forgot to grab the takeout menu so this is from memory. For example, the crab and fish head curries are weekend specials only. There was also a mysterious "imported black bean paste salad" that I had never seen before. And a thin catfish noodle soup with tamarind and chili. Since there was a Burmese food newbie, we kind of stuck to the basics.
Fried tofu: The tofu was very tender, which was a pleasant surprise. The peas added a yellow color and a subtle flavor. The sauce was pleasantly tangy. I think I probably would have preferred the salad as it was a touch overfried.
Fried squash: This was a freebie that she added on. In contrast to the tofu, this was perfectly fried with a crisp exterior and a melting interior. I had been expecting pumpkin or zucchini, but this was a mystery squash (not winter melon, but like winter melon) that kind of melted in your mouth.
Soup of the day: mystery vegetable with cellophane noodles. nice sweet vegetal flavor. another freebie.
Tea Leaf Salad: very good, we ended up breaking up the peppers for more spice though. as previously reported, no staleness in the pulses and a nicely funky flavor from the dressing.
Mohinga: it was ok, but I think I prefer the one at Yellow Pa Taut (which had more crunch from pulses and a thicker, fishier flavor/texture)
Mandalay Myee Shay: This was very interesting. Luke warm noodle salad with thick rice noodles (Bun Bo Hue/ Laifen like) with a lot of mustard pickle and some shredded pork. Tangy and crunchy with kind of an odd temperature, it grew on us as it cooled down.
Fish curry--red and oily, flavorful without being spicy, really excellent with rice. Would love to come on the weekend and check out the special curries.
6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014
Thanks for the rec. Yes, this is a lovely place, and very convenient (it's 2 minutes off 280 at the old Top of the Hill Daly City near Westlake).
I had a decent ginger salad and Mandalay Myee Shay, an otherwise bland noodle dish served warm (not hot) with roast pork and pickles. The roasted chile condiment and pickles made me happy, along with the warm service. I'm looking forward to exploring more of the menu.
Note that there's a Burmese fundraiser with food and dance at Little Theater in DC next Sunday, November 22. Free admission, donations are welcome.
While you're in the area, drive a mile further south on Mission and check out Nora's Patisserie on San Pedro Rd. I'd had Nora's cookies and turnovers once before, but was thrilled at the variety of cookies, pumpkin muffins, candy, and gingerbread, not to mention the very reasonable prices. They will be open Thanksgiving morning until noon.
29 San Pedro Rd, Colma, CA
Lapsed chowhound, Spencer, who’s recently returned to the Bay Area’s chow paradise, and yours truly attended Tuesday’s leisurely chowlunch. So, I’ll call our foray a scouting mission since we didn’t order that much rather than a chowdown to encourage a larger future meeting of ‘hounds here. Little Yangon has become my new favorite Burmese restaurant.
The restaurant’s street facing is all glass, letting in natural light on this overcast day. The tidy interior is quite simple. Near the entrance are some shelves stocked with Burmese food stuffs available for retail sale. http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/4096664050/
The cold case next to it has autographs and good wishes from friends and family. http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/4096663980
An open salad station is set up in the front in what looks like a former steam table counter. Four slots hold crunchy bits, fresh garnishes, and dressing ingredients. We’d talked to one of the owners about the myriad of types of cooked, infused, and raw oils used to dress the salads. Here are photos of just part of the salad station's colorful mise en place for the huge variety of fried and raw crispy ingredients at the ready to mix to order.
This was Spencer’s first visit to a Burmese restaurant. His culinary preferences mostly come from living in Italy and growing up in Maryland. It was fun to share a different cuisine and to draw parallels to the familiar.
We started with the Tea leaf salad, $6.50, and on first sight, I knew we were in for a treat. Only the small, tender tea leaf shoots are used rather than the pulpy puree served at other restaurants, plus the tea leaves are in generous proportion. While the menu description mentions lettuce, this is a whole leaf of juicy Romaine under the mix serving as a base. Some cabbage slaw is blended in lightening the salad and isn’t what I’d consider a filler. Slivers of tomato were carefully cut from just the outside flesh and skin without seeds or gel. The fried and roasted components were all crackly fresh. In the photo you can see the stems of the fresh green chili peppers, providing more heat that other versions. With the fried garlic, ground dried shrimp and ample dose of fish sauce, this tea leaf salad had all the spitfire and textures I love about the dish. I did ask for some additional lime to brighten the flavors to my taste.
Next up was Chin Bong Jaw, $5, sour vegetable (sorrel-like) sauteed with green chili, bamboo shoots, fish sauce, dried shrimps, ngapi, and balachaung. The menu described this as having “prawns”, but that’s a reference to the ground dried shrimp. When it first hit the table, Spence was taken aback at the “aroma”. I suggested that he compare it to bitter greens braised with anchovy then given a shot of garum for good measure. He described it as having notes of barnyard and fire, finding the barnyard element more like the dried hay of the Rhone rather than the merde of Burgundy. This dish also has a healthy dose of red pepper flakes and fresh green chilis, starting off as moderately spicy but growing in capsicum heat with standing. Even though it doesn’t look like much, basically gloppy greenish-brown mush with a bit of colorful garnish, we both found it delicious. The taste grew on Spencer, and he especially appreciated how the extra side of order of sweet and fragrant coconut rice balanced the spicy/sour/bitter/barnyard/garlicky/salty/iron/grassy elements perfectly.
When I tried to order this, the owner asked if I’d had it before. The owner checked back more than once to see if it was okay, and seemed surprised by how much both of us liked it. Later she mentioned that she’s been careful to ask customers if they know this dish, as it seems to be an acquired taste. I asked whether we could see the uncooked vegetable to know what it looks like. She said that it has leaves like maple. The kitchen is using frozen now, as the season has passed. She buys it at the Alemany Farmers Market (and most of the other produce) during the summer and freezes as much as possible. Once the current supply is gone, that’s it until next year.
I also liked the sour vegetable scooped on a wedge of the excellent Palata. Not itemized on the menu, I ordered the flatbread plain without a side of curry, $3. Golden brown, flaky, crisp . . . beautiful job. Spence mused that he’d like to eat the paratha with caviar and crème fraiche. He also had an idea for making a dessert with mascarpone and fruit. The owner said she likes hers with sweetened condensed milk.
Then my favorite Burmese standard, Ohn Noh Kaw Swe, $6.50, coconut chicken noodle soup, thick with yellow peas and bits of succulent dark meat. It wasn’t ready yet when we ordered and the owner tried to get me switch to the mohinga. But we were willing to wait, and I’m glad we did, even though we got apologies that this was the “rushed” version. No apologies needed, we were very happy with the dish. Chicken-y, mild and with a comforting texture and soft noodles, the ohn noh kaw swe inspired Spencer to remark that he didn’t deserve this bowl because he wasn’t sick at home in bed. Later he pronounced it “Burmese carbonara”.
The red onion and cilantro garnishes were dewy fresh and joined with two kinds of crunchy crackers and half an egg on top of the soup. One of the ladies who does not speak much English asked if we wanted “more soup”. I didn't understand this as an offer to add more stock to our bowl, and wish we had. Be sure to ask for more to thin out the thick base. I also needed to add a squirt of lime juice. Our take-out container was topped off with another ladle.
I asked about other vegetables such as okra or water spinach. The owner said that there’s usually some available in the kitchen depending on the season. The water spinach (kangkung) can be served in hot and sour soup or stir-fried with balachaung.
Spencer shot this last photo of our meal with my camera. Since everything was new to him, he jotted down the names of the dishes on the paper-topped table. Here’s his cheat sheet and primer for Burmese food.
You can see the various chili peppers in the condiment dish that he had removed from his servings. The kitchen isn’t shy with chilis.
Chatting with the owners, we learned that Daly City has a high concentration of Burmese people. This shows in the cooking style, geared toward serving the ethnic community and not watered down. Unlike the other Burmese restaurants, the owners of Little Yangon are not ethnic Chinese and the menu is strictly Burmese dishes. This is a terrific new addition to the Burmese scene, and I thank “outrig8” for the head’s up.
6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014
re: Melanie Wong
We ate a nice meal here Saturday night. it's quite a bare-bones place, but with quite reasonable prices and very friendly service.
Tea Leaf Salad
Chicken Fried Rice (for our nine year old son)
Fried Banana with mango ice cream.
All was very good. This is not as fancy as say, Burma Superstar, but very nice, unpretentious fresh tastes in all the dishes. I even liked my son's fried rice! It reminded me of the one at Lotus Garden.
These dishes were enough for the three of us, but when we return we would probably order one more dish.
I don't believe they sell beer/wine, and as mentioned it's cash only. The room has basic tables and bright overhead lighting, but it's very clean and well kept.
3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
1345 Park Street, Alameda, CA
I loved the lady owners here and their cooking! They said they opened in Daly City because it has a big concentration of Burmese people, who knew? I'll have notes soon from our lunch. If anyone's going today, I hope we'll hear about the homemade tofu, made of yellow pea powder. Didn't notice it on the menu yesterday and missed ordering it.
The restaurant is near the corner of Hillcrest Dr, the other end of the block is John Daly Blvd, the Top of the Hill nabe. It's just a few blocks over the SF city line for those who have a hard time leaving the boundaries of San Francisco. The 49 bus goes right by and BART is walking distance.
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks for the correction. I thought I saw a routing for the 49 bus when I checked yesterday, but I can't reproduce it now. The 14 bus runs from Mission & 4th to the restaurant. Daly City BART is 0.4 miles away according to google.
I hope you'll have a chance to try it. When one of the owners asked me about my interest in Burmese food, I mentioned that I'd been to an event at the temple in Half Moon Bay. She said that the original temple had been in Daly City until enough money was raised to purchase and build on the HMB site. I also got an update on the sweet matron who had fed me so well in the temple kitchen. She has retired to Los Angeles. It was like catching up with family.
re: Melanie Wong
I went over immediately after reading this. I was by myself, so i only got a bowl of Mohinga, a grass jelly drink and asked for 1 paratha.
Definitely my new favorite Mohinga in the sf area. I like it thick, and thats how they served it.
The woman was super nice. Asking if i needed extra broth to thin out the soup, and explaining that they used banana stem(?) that they get from a tree in their back yard.
i can't wait to go back with more people to try other menu items.