Aung Mingalar Buddhist Temple Burmese Thingyan Festival 2013 (Daly City)
Intrigued by the advance intell on the Thingyan Festival (Burmese New Year) ,
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/898131#8024565 , on Sunday I headed to Daly City to check out this new temple. A sign in the upstairs window of the two-story house in a single family dwelling residential neighborhood ID’d it as Aung Mingalar Buddhist Temple. The outdoor staircase was lined with pairs of shoes.
Once I climbed the stairs, inside I found worshippers sitting on the carpeted floor of the home’s living room and two monks addressing them in Burmese. The lunch buffet and an array of desserts lined a couple tables pushed up against the side wall. Kneeling next to the dessert table, I picked up a whiff of durian in something. I’d timed my arrival to get there before 11am, which is typically when monks end their service in order to follow the rule of eating before noon. Not this day, the lead monk was still going strong after that hour. When one of the ladies working in the kitchen put a tub of ice cream on the dessert table, I wondered if that was intended as an unspoken signal to wrap things up quickly.
The service ended at 11:33a when tea was poured for the monks. Then they took up their stations in front of Buddha in the alcove at a small table set with a selection from the buffet.
The hungry congregation mobbed the buffet table. As an outsider, I held back, but the good folks bid me to squeeze in and someone handed me a plate and a plastic spoon. This photo shows the tamarind chicken, biryani, nan pya tote (coconut chicken curry noodle salad), yellow pea tofu and cilantro salad, red curry (didn’t try), pea shoot salad, samosas, and egg rolls on the buffet line.
Everything was lovely. The nan pya tote was quite spicy, hotter than I’ve ever been served in a Burmese restaurant. I loved the yellow pea tofu salad. The pea shoot salad was my favorite. I’d never had pea shoots this way until trying it at Ksuyu last week, and here I find it again, though better and far more intriguing and flavorful with fish sauce and crushed peanuts served at the temple. Here’s my own plate,
I skipped the desserts though I now regret missing the falooda-like rosewater drink. But I did try the small mocha balls with a sweet liquidy filling.
In the kitchen, mohinga was bubbling in a cauldron on the stove. Individual bowls were set up with a portion of skinny rice noodles, crispy fried yellow peas and cilantro.
I helped myself to one and ladled my own fish soup over the top to assemble my own mohinga. Fish sauce, lemon wedges, and chile flakes were available to adjust the seasoning. The soup base was thicker with pounded fish and hard-cooked eggs, and tasted more intense than I’ve had in restaurants.
A side board near the door held some pens and envelopes. Following the lead of others, I sealed my donation in the envelope and filled out my name and address. Such a small gesture to thank the temple for feeding me so well.
Aung Mingalar Buddhist Temple
369 St Francis Blvd
Daly City, CA
Buddha Day Lunch at HMB's Burmese Monastery