Innya Lake [San Bruno]
In search of Tea Leaf salad for the November 2012 Dish of the Month, I stopped into Innya Lake in San Bruno tonight. The menu is mostly Chinese food, but the Burmese specialties are starred throughout. They are also compiled on the 2nd to last page as House Specialties.
I started by ordering the Mohinga (catfish soup) and the Tea Leaf Salad. They were unfortunately out of tea leaves, so he recommended I get the ginger salad instead, which is listed as the same as the tea leaf salad with a substitution of ginger for tea leaves and the addition of coconut. He also helped steer me from what he said were not particularly Burmese items on the House Specials (e.g., the Innya Lake chicken which he described as like General Tso's Chicken, the Satay Combo, and the Ginger Beef).
The ginger salad consisted of fried garlic slices, yellow lentils, peanuts, green chili, slivered ginger, and sesame seeds. The garlic looked overcooked, but actually wasn't too bitter. The flavors were all very assertive. They forgot to add the coconut, which I imagine would have mellowed out the dish. There wasn't any dried shrimp, so this isn't exactly the same as the tea leaf salad.
The mohingas I've had elsewhere have ranged on their levels of fishiness, but have generally had a slightly thick consistency. Innya Lake's was the thinnest version of Mohinga I've eaten and seemed more like a broth than a chowder. It had a few chunks of catfish and smaller bits of something on the bottom of the bowl, but there wasn't a pronounced fish flavor. There was some savoriness and saltiness to the soup, but I didn't find it very pleasant. On a separate plate were a bunch of additions including yellow lentils, rice vermicelli, cilantro, and a tasty fried fish cake.
The curried fish balls were pretty good. They were shaped like round ravioli and were covered in a thin and mild curry sauce.
I was the only one in there and the service was fine. Everyone there was somewhat distracted with a game on the TV, but when he was at my table, the server was very informative about the cuisine. His descriptions were very thorough and genuine too, conversational rather than as if he were trying to sell me something. I appreciated that.
There's _always_ a basketball game on the TV in the back, it seems you can't work there unless you're a mad sports fan.
I used to live in San Bruno and ate there once or twice a week. once you got past the whole TV in the dining room oddness it's actually a very competent Burmese resto, The Chinese side is adequate but unremarkable.