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May 23, 2012 02:59 PM

Best Takeout Burmese Tea Leaf Salad in the Richmond?

I want to pick up an order of tea leaf salad (to go) from the Richmond tonight. Probably won't be ordering anything else. I haven't been to Pagan, Mandalay or Burma Superstar in a long time....any thoughts on which one I should order from?

Thanks in advance!
Dave MP

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  1. I can't say which is best, but this truly is a dilemma you're unlikely to have outside of Burma/Myanmar. My mind boggles at how lucky we are to live in the Bay area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Scrapironchef

      Ha, I know, we're lucky. And I realize that the correct answer here would be to order all three, and do a comparison. Unfortunately, I probably can't do this tonight....but it sounds like a good project.

      If it helps, I tend to prefer versions of tea leaf salad that have a good amount of tea leaves. I remember the Burma Superstar version being a bit "watered down" by lettuce....but perhaps they are all like this?

      1. re: Dave MP

        Mandalay does not have lettuce in their tea leaf salad. Both Pagan & Burma SS do.

        I like Mandalay the best of the three.

        1. re: drewskiSF

          second this. tho i've never been to Pagan. Mandalay is my favorite in the City right now.

    2. If you don't want lettuce filler, easiest thing to do is buy the packaged tea leaf salad, a lemon, a jalapeno chile, and a red onion and save a lot of money. It will be in better condition and you can mix it to your own taste. Get a head of butter lettuce for a bed for the salad.

      It's been a year since the last report of buying the packages at Haig's on Clement St, wonder if the manager has opened his own store yet.

      I'd call/go to Haig's first to see if still available, then if not, walk two blocks over to Mandalay.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        also don't call on sundays. keep in mind you also need peanuts and dried shrimp

        1. re: vulber

          Doesn't the packaged salad mix include peanuts?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            nope; it includes fermented tea leaves and nothing else

            1. re: vulber

              I believe that just the leaves are available or you can also buy the tea leaf salad mix that has the other crunchy fried ingredients packed with it. Or at least that's what I bought last year and why I only mentioned the fresh ingredients for assembling the salad.

              Here's the text of the post I linked above that describes what's in the package mix: "If you do buy from the guy in the back, bring cash. His transactions are separate from the deli. I bought two packages yesterday, 3.99$ apiece. In it is a packet of peanut oil, and the crunchies (peanuts, split yellow peas, sesame and fried garlic) mixed in one package. I also bought a package of just the leaves (about 5 oz) for 5.99$."

      2. Prolly really obvious but do be sure to ask them NOT to premix the salad as it can get really soggy.

        I much prefer the one at Mandalay for the same reason, no filler, but that's based on a tiny sample of course.

        There should be some pulses, seeds and legumes in there (see bad photo of the salad at Mandalay from Nov 2011 attached) as well which you'd wanna pick up if making your own.

        1. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I thought we were just going to get an order of tea leaf salad to go, but I ended up eating a full meal at Mandalay. I was pleasantly surprised - I'd only been here once before, about 5 years ago, and I was really impressed with the food.

          Tea leaf salad was just like it's described here, with no lettuce. Good amount of tea leaves, and mixed at the table. The salad came with four small pieces of cherry tomato (literally two tiny tomatoes, cut in halves), which was a bit weird. I would have rather had more tomato. But otherwise it was great.

          Mohinga was excellent, and one of the best versions I've ever had. It was served in two smaller bowls, one for me and one for my DC, which was a nice touch. Came with lemon and cilantro for garnishing, and had nice crispy fried bits (lentils?) in the soup.

          Mandalay Special Noodles were also excellent - similar in some ways to Khao Soi, but milder. Wide yellow noodles (like fettuccine), with bits of chicken, crispy noodles, cilantro, and a coconut gravy. The texture reminded me of fettuccine alfredo, and the coconut sauce had nice kaffir lime leaf flavor. Really good, and probably my favorite of the evening.

          Prices aren't particularly cheap, but were reasonable for the quality of food and service - probably cheaper than Burma Superstar, and no wait for a party of 2 on a Wednesday night!

          Will definitely be back

          Dave MP

          4 Replies
          1. re: Dave MP

            You got one more cherry tomato half than we did :-). I don't really get the garnishing of SE Asian food with tomato thing, myself. I don't think they add anything and are so often underripe.

            I really like their balada too but you have to eat it quickly for best results.

            1. re: grayelf

              When I've made tea leaf salad at home, I've often made it with tomatoes....especially with good, ripe cherry tomatoes. I actually love the flavor combo of ripe tomato and fermented tea leaves.

              1. re: grayelf

                while i generally agree with your frustration; i've always found the tomatoes at mandalay to be ripe and juicy

                1. re: vulber

                  To be fair, they were in good shape (all 1.5 of them!) so Mandalay should not be faulted. I wonder what would have been in a tea leaf salad before tomatoes appeared overseas?