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Apr 9, 2011 09:56 PM

first time at Mingalaba

I had old friends in from out of town, staying near SFO. They are not very adventurous and wanted dinner nearby. So we headed to Mingalaba, their first time with Burmese food.

All in all it was a success, once we managed to get seated. (It was a mob scene at 6 p.m.) Service was thoughtful and attentive.

We shared:
paratha, potstickers, black pepper soup, rainbow salad, ginger salad, house noodles, and walnut broccoli chicken, as well as a side of coconut rice.

My favorite dishes were the delicate black pepper soup, which had slices of summer squash and chunks of fish, and rainbow salad. My favorite rainbow salad is still at Pagan.

We asked that nothing be spicy, so nothing was :( I liked the ginger salad but didn't love it. My friend found it too ginger-y; for me it wasn't ginger-y enough. The dipping sauces accompanying paratha were wonderful.

I was disappointed by the often recommended house noodles with chicken; they seemed too bland and the noodles overwhelmed the dish. At Yamo, where I always order this dish, the sauce isn't so thick and the dish is balanced by cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and fried garlic or shallots.

Even the non-Burmese dishes like potstickers and walnut broccoli chicken were made with care. I wouldn't have ordered them, but did enjoy a taste.

This is a better than average option close to the airport, and I'd be interested in trying more soups and salads, with the spice level turned up.

My friends were very happy with the new foods they'd tried. Dinner for 3 came to just over $100 with drinks and tip, and lots of leftovers.

3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

1213 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010

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  1. Strange, on their online menu it says: "House Special Noodle (served spicy only)".
    I was there a few months ago with some friends and we loved this dish, but then again, we all love spicy food and asked for everything extra spicy (and the noodles were very spicy). I bet it is one of those dishes where it is hard to get the balance right if you leave out a main ingredient.

    I've been there a few times and have liked everything I have tried. We always get the rainbow salad. Last time I was also quite impressed with the Vegetarian Samusas Soup... which is far more delicious and interesting tasting than I every would have thought. I also remember liking the Rangoon Lamb and the Catfish Chowder.
    You should definitely go back and turn up the heat. Everything I have ever ordered there has been spicy (even the rainbow salad). I'm sure the dishes would be missing something without the spice.

    5 Replies
    1. re: lrealml

      Thanks. Yes, we noticed that too on the noodle description. But it was like mediocre Thai peanut sauce--sweet and thick, without much interest. I'll try spicing up the leftovers.

      I'd definitely like to try their other soups and salads. The black pepper soup was wonderful because (despite the name) it wasn't spicy but had plenty of flavor.

      1. re: Windy

        Peanut sauce... hmm that sounds like a completely different dish because my SO hates peanut butter/sauce. Now i am wondering if "House Special" noodles ordered not spicy is is a different "house special noodles".

        I will have to try the black pepper soup. So far I've been most impressed with there soups.

        1. re: lrealml

          I'm eating it now, and you're right, not peanut-y, just that color (or perhaps like orange cheese). No idea what it is.

          1. re: Windy

            I guess that is why it is "house special" :)

      2. re: lrealml

        I just realized that I meant Tea Salad... that is the one we always get, not the Rainbow.

      3. i believe it's owned by the sister of the owner of mandalay or something....have you been to mandalay to compare?

        4 Replies
          1. re: vulber

            You are right about the sister thing...
            I have been to Mandalay once a couple years ago. I liked it, but I believe I liked Mingalaba better. I need to try some other Burmese places, but there are not any others on the Peninsula, and I've always been happy with Mingalaba.
            I suppose I should give Burma Superstar a try.

            1. re: lrealml

              Or start with something further south and better: Little Yangon (top of the hill Daly City) or Yamo (18th and Mission).

              I've never understood the Burma Superstar appeal; if you're going to drive that far, Pagan is better, especially the branch out by the Legion of Honor.

              i was at Yamo last week, and the sisters were training a few new female assistants. The cold noodles weren't quite as good as usual, but the atmosphere was like a quick trip to SE Asia, with lots of gossipping and giggling.

              3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Legion of Honor Cafe
              100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA

              Burma Superstar
              4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

              Little Yangon
              6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014

              1. re: Windy

                Thanks for the recs
                We do often find ourselves next to Burma Superstar, but they are always packed or we have other plans...

                There is also Burma Cafe that just opened in Daly City. I happened to meet the owner the other night at a Thai cooking class I am taking. He recommended the ginger salad and the chicken noodle dish ( I think), so maybe I will have to try it as well (although I don't think it is as authentic as the others)

          2. Thanks for the report Windy. This was one of the Burmese places I had on the radar when my GF came to town the last time, but when I found out she was not flying into SFO this time around, that pretty much took this option out of the running.

            Maybe next time Mingalaba or one of the SF-area Burmese restos not named Burma Superstar for us.