Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >
Jun 13, 2011 09:37 AM

Burmese Food Fair Sunday - fantastic

Again, I would not have known this event was happening if it wasn't for Dave Cook's Eating in Translation email on Friday. Greatly appreciated!

It seemed to me that the Moegyo Burmese Food Fair was even better than their last, and certainly more crowded. The selection was pretty sensational, and I ended up buying a number of things to take home with me.

At the table where LaphetThohk (Teal Leaf Salad) and GyinThohk (Ginger Salad) were being prepared, I asked (when returning for seconds and thirds) if they were from a restaurant. It was difficult to talk since they were right up front near the (loud) singers, but I believe they said they were from a Chinese/Burmese restaurant in Flushing, on Main Street, but I didn't get the name. Anyone know of a place fitting that description?

Burmese Food Fair
42-00 72nd St, Queens, NY 11377

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Could it be the Thai restaurant with Chinese and English signage near Northern?

    21 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Do they also have Burmese dishes on their menu?

      1. re: JFores

        Probably. The restaurant name is Excellent Thai, 36-50 Main St., Flushing. I swung by and picked up a takeout menu on the way to a group dinner last night. Several folks at our table agreed that this might be worth a look, even though the menu is all over the Southeast Asian map. No idea where the chefs are from.

        In addition to a number of dishes labeled Yunan [sic], there's tea leaf salad, yellow tofu salad, and shwe yin aye, three dishes that have appeared at the Moegyo food fair. There's also something called "kung bo chicken with ginger and hot pepper, Burmese style," and, likely, much more that I'm missing.

        1. re: DaveCook

          Sounds encouraging. Any reference to curries, multilayered pancakes, or non-chinese duck noodle dishes?

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Thanks to Dave, I have a copy of the menu. There is paratha with curry chicken, as well as several other curry dishes. They also have a shredded duck with rice noodle, but there's no clue as to its provenance.

            1. re: Joe MacBu

              Betting it's Burmese.

              Can you scan the menu and put it up here? If not I'll get to it...

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Excellent Thai
                36-50 Main St.
                Flushing NY 11354
                Daily 10:30a - 11p

                Excellent Thai
                36-50 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                1. re: Joe MacBu

                  Thanks! And...score!! They've got shwe yin aye, one of my favorite desserts, and one of the kernals of Burmese cuisine. Sort of a small coconutty tapioca cake, crunchy on one side, sliced thin to serve.

                  Avocado shake is another score. And I do think the duck rice noodles is the dish often called "Rangoon Night Market Noodles".

                  The whole menu looks pretty nice. The big question is, is this place actually any good? I'll hopefully find out soon.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    I spoke briefly with a worker while heading somewhere else. She said it's a Burmese and Malaysian operation.

                    1. re: Joe MacBu

                      JFores and my friend Jeanne and I visited Excellent to try some Burmese dishes last night. I loved their tea leaf salad, which was better than the one at the festival in Woodside. It was much spicier than any other version I've had, and had lots of tasty crunchy ingredients. Surprisingly, the "kung bo chicken with ginger and hot pepper, Burmese style" was also very good. I'm no expert on Burmese food, but this didn't seem distinctively Burmese to me. It seemed more Chinese. But I liked it a lot. It reminded me a bit of salt-and-pepper chicken or something like that. And I'm always a sucker for that.

                      We asked what other Burmese dishes they recommended, and we ended up with the sauteed watercress with spicy shrimp paste sauce and a bland noodle dish that didn't seem Burmese at all. The bland noodles were livened up considerably when we got them to bring us some Sriracha. I wasn't too keen on the watercress itself (though Jeanne liked it a lot) but I enjoyed the spicy shrimp paste. I much preferred eating that paste with some rice and leaving out the watercress. I don't think I'd get either of those two dishes again.

                      Those four dishes were not as filling as we'd expected, and left us with some room to nibble a bit more, but we forgot to get some shwe yin aye. Dang.

                      I want to go back and try some more things even though, based on the menu, this didn't seem close to a proper Burmese place at all. (I'd love to see something as great as Myanmar Restaurant in Falls Church VA open around here.) I wonder if their Malaysian dishes are good. JFores said he heard the waitstaff speaking Mandarin to each other, if I remember correctly. Presumably they are Malay Chinese.

                      Excellent Thai
                      36-50 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                      1. re: Ike

                        It's becoming more and more common for Flushing Chinese restaurants to hire multiple chefs to handle their respective cuisines all under one roof and in one menu. My suspicion here is that the Burmese guy wasn't in that day, and the other chefs were faking it. Just a theory.

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          Last week, I was told by a worker that the chefs are from Malaysia and Burma.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Jim, that could very well be the case, since it took extra time for the tea leaf salad to come out from the kitchen, several minutes after the other three dishes appeared.

                            Perhaps the chef needed to call someone and ask how to assemble the tea leaf salad! :)

                            1. re: Ike

                              This could make sense. Weren't they unable to make one of the dishes you ordered? We may have just caught the Malaysian crew off guard.

            2. re: DaveCook

              An organizer for Woodside's annual Moegyo food fair confirmed for me that Excellent Thai is indeed the restaurant in question; the owners are originally from Burma, and one of the chefs is Burmese. He added:

              "When you go there, you can ask for a lady named Sophia who came from Burma. I don't know her exact role there but she cooks and I think she is also a partner at the restaurant. I think she is the only cook who can cook Burmese food. Other cooks are Chinese, I believe. I have alerted her that some American customers may visit the restaurant and ask for her [by] name. She said she is in the restaurant everyday from 11 am until the closing time."

              Though my informant and his friends are partial to the tofu salad and the fried tofu, he also noted that "she can cook for the customer, so your best bet is to ask her by name and talk to her. It might be an experience in itself."

              Excellent Thai
              36-50 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

              1. re: DaveCook

                This Edible Queens piece from last year says the owner's known as Ma Sophie and will make Burmese dishes if asked ...

                1. re: squid kun

                  I've now had Ma Sophie cook Burmese for me twice, once with a small group and once with a large group. Both times the meals were miraculous. I honestly don't know how she does it. This is very very highly recommended.

                  She's there pretty much all the time, you just have to ask for her. And there are huge language barriers, so I just basically let her cook whatever she wants. Generally $20-25/person for a huge multi-course banquet, more if you get crab (and you should).

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    dang, what if have serious language problems and say don't want any pork???

                    but it does sound great. a crazy, dope multi-course banquet meal for only 25 bucks???? i'm so there.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      have you been recently again ???

                      thanks. what did you order ?

                      1. re: kevin

                        Bad news. We went this past weekend, after calling in advance to make sure that Ma Sophie was there (they assured us she was). When we got there, we were told that they no longer have any Burmese food (or Thai -- entire menu was Chinese). It looked like they had just had some sort of grand opening, judging from the rather festive potted plants out front.

                  2. re: DaveCook

                    This is exactly the sort of info I started this site so we could all share!

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      What a good thing that was to do, too - thank you Jim! Thanks to all involved in this excellent sleuthing.

              2. Can't help on the Flushing place.

                There's a Burmese "home-based kitchen saloon" operating not too far from the site of the fair. Has anybody tried it? I never got to try the somewhat dodgy Burmese delivery place run out of Sunnyside and would like to give this new place a shot while it's still going.

                11 Replies
                1. re: cnut

                  what the hell is this? I've got my burmese source researching...

                    1. re: round2

                      C'mon, you guys; everyone's just GIVEN UP here? Jeffsayyes, you've got Burmese sources, and are still coming up empty? Or did you (the shame!) just fail to report back? ;)

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        Sorry to make things difficult here. I have the name/address/phone number of the venue/proprietor, but I don't know of an egalitarian way to release it without possibly subjecting these folks to sanction.

                        I will try to get over there this week to eat and ask the folks if they can accomodate us. As I am a calculating, self-interested type, I might ask that people reply to my consolidated 'what kind of malt liquor can you get in your area' thread before supplying the info. Can't believe that nobody's willing to tell me what 40s are for sale where they live.

                        1. re: cnut

                          My freaking girlfriend just told me she knew the whole freaking time! Is the one you're talking about take-out only, run by 3 sisters? She was actually trying to get a dinner happening there last year but forgot about it.
                          We're going to do some research and get back to the board in the next few weeks to confirm.

                          what should we do? I mean I can't rightly post the info here. And it's still a little dangerous to just give it to whoever emails me. Should we do a vouching system? I mean, the food community is pretty small, i bet we all are 1 or 2 people across.

                          1. re: cnut

                            Ah, I didn't grok that this was an unlicensed restaurant. Sorry.

                            PLEASE do not post the info.

                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              okay, today I became the first american to eat at their place, ever. Pretty cool, right?
                              Basically, it's 3 sisters that had a very successful place in Burma for 40 years - even serving as a cook for the Prime Minister - but left because america is awesome basically. They now serve tray-size entrees to burmese people in the neighborhood only. Not interested (yet) in serving any take-out to americans b/c of obvious legal reasons , but also the language barrier.

                              They work out of their kitchen, very small space, but have a surprisingly large output. many of the ingredients are imported from burma. They have a menu, but they really like their current set-up b/c they are in complete control of what they cook, when, and for whom.

                              Here's what I had today
                              laksa, marinated curry chicken legs w/ sticky rice, papaya salad, durian over sticky rice dessert.

                              I'm going to set up a big ambassador program with them in August. if you want to come, send me your email. Not sure what other options there are for americans, but i'm going to work on it and see if anything sticks. Thanks for piquing my interest, chowhounds, I actually had the opportunity to do this last year, but it fell by the wayside for some reason.

                              1. re: Jeffsayyes

                                I would strongly advise against revealing details to people who email you. Chowhound is too widely-read for this to be sensible. You may be unwittingly putting the sisters in jeopardy. I know for a fact that restaurant inspectors and other authorities read the site (in their free time, as a hobby). Please don't risk it.

                                if you want to have a party and have them cater it, and invite strangers from the site, fine. That exposes you to a certain level of risk from strangers on the Internet, but at least you'd be putting yourself at risk, rather than others, and you are informed enough to weigh the risk.

                                If you'd like to discuss this further, feel free to email me at we can keep this discussion on-topic about Burmese food rather than about secret restaurant discretion issues.

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  I'm not going to reveal any PII (personally identifiable information - thanks U.S. census training) to anyone. they don't even sell to americans, so it wouldn't be possible anyways. just my catered meal will be all for now... looks like august. If you want, I'll put you on my ambassador program list, which is where I announce it. I don't put the events up on chowhound b/c it's no use with mods.

                                  To get your next fix::

                                  ThinGyan Association presents
                                  17th Annual Rakhaing Thingyan
                                  Burmese New Year Water Festival
                                  GET READY TO GET WET...
                                  BURMESE WATER FESTIVAL -- Upper West Side – July 17

                                  Spray, splash and soak your friends and family at the 17th Annual Rakhaing Thingyan Water Festival, a celebration of the Burmese New Year and culture, on Sunday, July 17, 2011, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

                                  The festival is located on the Upper West Side – PS9 Playground -- 100 West 84th Street, between Columbus Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue

                                  FREE TO ALL -- GREAT FOR KIDS
                                  VIA SUBWAY:
                                  1 Train to 86th Street
                                  C Train to 81st Street or 86th Street

                                  BUSES along Central Park West, Amsterdam Avenue, Columbus Avenue and Broadway are also options

                                  The Burmese Water Festival is highlighted by an age-old tradition where children and adults joyously pour water on each other to be rid of last year's troubles. Wet or dry, come experience local Burmese cuisine, singing, dancing, music, arts and crafts, raffle drawings and children's games.

                                  Known as a time for men to court women and flirt, the event will also include the Laung Hlay, a traditional Rakhaing racing boat, which is filled with water and guarded by women. Young men wishing to play must ask a woman permission to have a bowl of water from the boat. If she agrees, they will splash each other, and when his bowl is empty, he must ask again for more. Once the Laung Hlay is empty, another group is given a turn to splash. Many marriages have resulted from water play at the Laung Hlay.

                                  The Burmese Water Festival is sponsored by ThinGyan Association, a non-political, not-for-profit Burmese-American social organization devoted to preserving and sharing the colorful, multi-ethnic heritage of Burma.

                                2. re: Jeffsayyes

                                  Hey Jeffsayyes I just joined Chowhound literally a few moments ago just so I can ask you about this mysterious Burmese place. I just came back from living a year on the Thai-Burmese border and am missing my tea-leaf salads and tamarind leaf salad something crazy. Any chance you let me in the loop and find those awesome sisters? Also, just checked out your blog briefly, and if the ambassador tour is a go, I am so in. Thanks!

                                  1. re: chaloobybaby

                                    if you want i can put you on my food event mailing list. just email me and you will be aware about when it occurs - I am sworn to secrecy their details though, sorry.

                    2. That Burmese food fair was great, as always. More options than at the Briarwood one. Associating a school cafeteria with great, great food is really odd, but good. :) The music was too loud this year, though. Not as loud as Briarwood, but loud.

                      I love that tea leaf salad. I tried to ask them if the pickled tea leaves are sold in packages in any stores anywhere. I couldn't hear them too well because the loud music, but I THINK they said it's sold in some Burmese stores in Woodside (?!) but they didn't say where. I didn't know there were any Burmese stores in Woodside. I might have misheard. And they sure didn't mention anything to me about any restaurant; I didn't think to ask.

                      I also loved the Shan-style rice salad. That was great! It sold out pretty fast. It looked like a big clump of rice with just a few things on top, but it was much more flavorful than that.

                      I wasn't as crazy about the ginger salad as the tea leaf salad, but maybe I just prefer my ginger in ginger beer rather than in a salad.

                      I also had a dish of noodles covered in a thick yellow sauce made from chickpeas. I wasn't crazy about that. Dave Cook called it "rib-sticking." I don't remember if that was the Mandalay round rice noodle salad or a different one.

                      They were also handing out a very detailed pamphlet in English to us non-Burmese types when we entered, explaining all of the dishes, their ingredients and some of their history, etc. It's really nicely-done. I can make a PDF file out of it, if anybody wants to see it, although PDF files are awfully big and clunky and I hate that format. I think Dave Cook mentioned that he would try to scan it and upload it somewhere if he got a chance. Maybe he can get a JPG or something more handy than a PDF.

                      The dishes explained in the pamphlet are:

                      Laphet Thohk (Authentic Burmese Preserved Tea Leaf Salad)
                      Gyin Thohk (Authentic Shredded Preserved Young Ginger Salad)
                      Bayar Kyaw (Yellow Split Pea Fritters)
                      Ngapi Jet & Tosayar (Burmese Style Spicy Fish Sauce Condiment and Pickled Vegetables)
                      Samusa Thohk (Yellow Split Pea Fritters)
                      Kawpyant Sane (Veg. Summer Roll)
                      Tohu Thohk (Yellow Tofu Salad)
                      Wetthar Dote Htoe (Sweet Soy Glazed Pork)
                      Thone Htatthar Kyoot Kyoot Kyaw (Crispy Fried Pork Belly)
                      Yelyo Ywet Nga Paung Htote (Noni Leaves-Wrapped Fish Stew)
                      Mohinga (Thin Rice Noodle in Fish Soup)
                      Ohn-No KoutSwel (Egg Noodle in Coconut Milk-Flavored Soup with Chicken Cubes)
                      Shan Htamin Chin (Traditional Shan-Style Rice Salad)
                      Mandalay Mote Ti (Mandalay-Style Round Rice Noodle Salad)
                      Pyay Palata (Puffy Layer Bread with Pyay-Style Curry Chicken and Potato in Yellow Split Pea Broth)
                      Dan Bauk (Burmese-Style Chicken Biryani)
                      Shan Khout Swel (Northern Flat Rice Noodle)

                      ...and a bunch of desserts too! Whew.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Ike

                        I asked them and they said they get it from burma. not sure if there was a medium in the neighborhood who sold it to them or not. It IS illegal though b/c it's technically like tobacco.. something like that

                        1. re: Jeffsayyes

                          Laphet leaves used to be available in one store on Mulberry St. downtown, I believe, but since several brands were found to be contaminated with a carcinogenic dye a year or so ago, they are banned here. There is a supplier in the UK if you feel like chancing it; they do ship to the US. You can do something similar with soaked green tea leaves -- a friend in Japan does this -- but it is nowhere near as good, unfortunately. Me, I'll take the risk.

                        2. re: Ike

                          Scans appended below. One dish that the Moegyo pamphlet doesn't touch on is kyay-oh sichet, also shown below before being wetted down. In addition to rice noodles, greens, a quail egg, and a pork meatball, it's fortified with a variety of pork off-cuts: kidney, stomach, liver, and, as a dark sliver just above the meatball, lung.

                          Without directly addressing the regulatory issue, I asked the fellow who was serving this dish about the provenance of the lung. He said it came from a Chinese market, adding something to the effect that they sell every part of the pig.

                          1. re: DaveCook

                            Dave, I'm curious -- what went on top of the kyay-oh sichet? Some kind of sauce or broth? Spicy, salty, garlicky? Just curious how one seasons that bevy of organ meats...

                            1. re: CitySpoonful

                              Just a broth of some sort, mildly salty. I'm sure some DIY spicy seasoning was available; I did without.

                          2. re: Ike

                            There is someone in Woodside/Sunnyside who sells the leaves; I got some from them last year. Apparently Auramine O (the toxic dye found in several brands before) is no longer used. Yuzana brand never tested positive for it anyhow, so that's what we got, just in case. I have no idea whether or not it can be legally imported again.

                          3. Yep, this has turned out to be a great annual event. Briarwood though has some advantages. First, since it's outside, cooking is allowed, so for instance the fritters are freshly fried. BTW, the sauce for the fritters the past 2 years (@ Briarwood has been amazing, homemade, not like the bottled stuff here which while good was a whole 'nother thing). Also, in Briarwood there's usally 2-3 "grandmothers" making fresh salad, rusing the mortar and pestle right in front of you. The freshness and the depth of falvors is so immense. Dont get me wrong this is a great event and in some ways better than B'wood, easier for the Queens novices to get to, indoors (no blazing sun), better descriptions of dishes...either way, you can't go wrong....

                            Myanmar Baptist Church
                            143-55 84th Dr, Queens, NY 11435

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MOREKASHA

                              Speaking of Briarwood, here's the menu, via a tip from Edible Queens:


                              Anyone read Burmese? I suspect something is lost in translating many of those dishes into English (e.g., "assorted pork delicacy").

                              1. re: MOREKASHA

                                Here's a slideshow from several years of the Briarwood fun fair:


                                To see captions (if they don't appear automatically), move your cursor to the upper-right corner of the screen, then click "show info".

                                1. re: DaveCook

                                  Oh my that looks tasty! Thanks for posting, Dave.

                              2. Once upon a time, there was this that was new, but now longer. You might still find traces of information:

                                Maybe look for that place on 45th ave? Or look for Yunnan restaurants.