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Mar 26, 2011 08:26 PM

Burma Cafe – New in Daly City

When Little Yangon opened a year and a half ago, we learned that Daly City is one of the Bay Area’s Burmese population centers. The community now has a second restaurant to call its own, Burma Cafe.

Located next door to T C Pastry, the café is the first restaurant venture for the Burmese-Chinese owners. The attractive interior features dark earth tones, some upholstered booths, a private dining room in the back, and a long bench along one wall brightened with pretty silk pillows. On a rainy afternoon, the café felt too dark for lunch, and I was the only customer.

The all-Burmese menu offers the usual suspects. Burma Café also has a wine and beer license and serves up Tiger, Chang and Anchor Steam beers.

When I requested my tea leaf (laphet) salad, $8.95, with "less lettuce", the owner/waitress asked, "Would you prefer no lettuce?" She said I was the first and only non-Burmese customer to order it this way in her restaurant’s brief three-month lifetime. She also added that’s how she prefers it herself but most customers expect lettuce.

Here’s what the composition of the tea leaf salad looked like before tossing with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I was told the cooks added more chopped fresh jalapeño chiles because they assumed I was Burmese and would want more heat.

The kitchen also sent out a side of shredded cabbage to lighten things up. I put everything together with bit more lemon. The bits that should be crispy were crackly, and I especially liked the extra robust flavor from extra amounts of fried garlic and chiles. The powdered dried shrimp added extra depth, and can be ordered without for a vegetarian version.

Then my touchstone Burmese dish, Ono Kauswer, or coconut chicken noodle soup, $8.95. Nicely presented with slices of hard-cooked egg, slivers of red onion, cilantro sprigs, and crispy fried pasta strips, the rich soup plumped up wtih chickpea flour had the density of extra thick chowder. Comfort food to the max, this bowl satisfied with the homemade flavor of good chicken stock, mild yellow curry, and diced dark meat. Heavy on the coconut milk, lending an extra buttery texture and a layer of red floating on the surface, the flavors snapped into focus with a bit more lemon juice and red chile pepper from the shaker on the table.

The ginger tea, $2, is brewed strong and sweet here in a teapot, enough for more than two cups.

As much as I enjoyed my lunch here, I’d probably return to Little Yangon first for more variety and lower prices when grabbing a bite on my own. For a group or to introduce someone to Burmese food in more pleasant surroundings, I’d pick Burma Café. Daly City is lucky to have both.

* * * * *
Luis Chong announces Burma Café’s opening

T C Pastry
67 Saint Francis Sq, Daly City, CA

Little Yangon
6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014

Burma Cafe
63 St Francis Square, Daly City, CA 94015

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    1. I was in the neighborhood last night and decided to order the House Special Noodle (Nan Pya Dok) to go. The noodles aren't super cheap (my total takeout order for just the noodles was over $11) but when I opened the container back at home, I found a nice presentation.

      The ingredients were positioned in different corners of the plastic takeaway container: wide wheat noodles with the sauce of curry (with bits of chicken) over them, a small pile of crispy noodles, cilantro, onion (it was raw, not fried), hard boiled egg, split pea powder, and a wedge of lemon.

      I mixed all of this together, and gave it a try. Nice curry flavor, but still didn't taste as good as the version at Mandalay which remains my favorite. However, I decided to add a bit of fish sauce, one thinly sliced fresh kafir lime leaf (which I luckily have on hand), and some chili paste.....and this really boosted the flavor, making the dish really excellent.

      I like the flavor of the Nan Pya Dok at Burma Cafe better than at Little Yangon, though it's true that L.Y. is cheaper.

      The restaurant space is pleasant, likely Melanie describes, and I'd definitely return to try more things.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP

          To be fair, you're saying that the Nan Pya Dok at Burma Cafe is better than Little Yangon after you add your own fish sauce, kaffir lime leaf and chili paste. :)

          During your previous residency in San Francisco, we had been neck-in-neck in checking out Burmese places. But of course that went by the wayside when you moved away. Now you've almost caught up again!

        2. I ate here again this weekend with a few others, and we tried lots of things.

          The decor in this restaurant is nice, and it wasn't crowded on a weekend night. We had a reservation, but we didn't even need one. They also serve beer and wine, which is a nice plus.

          Some things were good...notably, the tea leaf salad (which benefitted from added fish sauce) and the mohinga. While I wouldn't say either of these is better than what I get at places in SF, I think they are both on par.

          Noodle dishes were good, but not as good as what you get at Mandalay. The house special noodles also needed some extra fish sauce and chili (like I described in 2013), and that made them better.

          The pratha was okay but kind of greasy. Mango salad was too sweet, and the dressing ended up tasting sort of like Thousand Island.

          Milk tea that my friend ordered was good!

          I would definitely come back here if I was looking for an easy dinner without a big wait or fuss, and if I was expecting some fairly solid Burmese food. But I don't feel the food here is as good as the best of what's available in the Bay Area.