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DAGON BURMESE CUISINE, OAHU

I have seen a post or two elsewhere about it, but this place deserves a thread of it's own. I haven't written in a while because there is was not much to write about until tonight. Ever had Burmese? I hadn't until today, but boy is it good, at least from 2671 S. King St. (947-0088), a simple but attractive space only open four days so far. Not quite Thai or Lao or Indian, a cuisine unto itself: light, delicate, fresh. We had the salad with fermented/pickled? tea leaves, romaine, toasted lentils and split peas, tomato, etc. Mixed at the table to preserve the crunch. Palata (sp?), a bread appetizer similar to Chinese green onion pancake without the green onions, was just a little greasy (yum!) and very flaky due to the chef stretching and folding, stretching and folding the dough like mother used to do. Then either the first or second noodle dish (the thick, round, rice noodles) with fried won ton strips, chicken, coconut milk, cilantro, red onion (or shallots?) and delicious spice additions including a perky splash of lemon juice. Marvelous! Then the pork and (unpeeled) kabocha squash in a terrifically light curry sauce. Last, beef in a curry sauce that was Indian and Thai influenced, but with flavors all it's own. Overall, I've not had anything like it, but I'm sure glad I had it tonight.

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  1. Glad you had the chance to experience Burmese food. I once wrote an article about it, explaining that it is like eating Thai, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian food, all at the same time! Plus, I added that the fermented tea leaf salad really pins the "weird meter."

    1. It's nice that there is now a place serving Burmese food here. The only times I have eaten Burmese was at a couple of restaurants in San Francisco. I think Tripeler nails it with the description. It's sort of a mishmash of cuisines, different yet familiar at the same time.

      1. Glad to hear Joebob enjoyed it as much as we did. I'm transplanting my post from another thread for the first visit and then an update from a second (they've only been open 5 days, but we talked friends into joining us so we could try different things)

        First visit:
        "Tea leaf salad was excellent, with crunchy peanuts, fried lentils, and fried garlic mixed in with the tea leaf paste. Unusual and delicious. Also had a Burmese-Indian rice which was flavorful, and with it the beef curry... like an Indonesian Rendang Curry. Beef was not very tender, but the sauce was yummy. Our favorite of all was the noodle dish, much like fettuccini, topped with chicken curry, crunchy won ton strips, onion, cilantro, and slices of hard-boiled egg, then all mixed together into a creamy sauce...great!

        Two of us had 4 dishes which came to $37 with leftovers to take home. Dinner only, closed Tuesday, BYOB."

        Second visit:
        Tried the Ginger Salad, Chicken Noodle Soup, Pumpkin Pork Stew, a different noodle dish (Rangoon?), and the same Burmese-Indian rice we had before (we thought it was Biryani but turned out that it was the B-I...just fancier looking than we expected). Came to $47 for 4, with a little bit of leftovers. The salad, soup, and noodles were the highlights, probably wouldn’t order the pork again as it was tough and the sauce a bit bland. We really like the place...very attractive, and the staff is very friendly and accommodating (they were so happy we were returning after their opening night that they gave us a small complimentary plate of Samusa).

         
         
        1. Thank you for the review, Joebob. Sounds like a very interesting place..... will certainly pay a visit soon. Hopefully it is spicy enough for my taste. Leave it up to you to find exceptional place to eat... keep up the good work.

          10 Replies
          1. re: roro808

            Everything we had was mild, but that can be adjusted, and they will understand Indonesian Hot. Sometimes a nose in the air can be useful. Thank you for the praise.

            Parking is difficult. I might park in the Kokua Market lot if I bought something there, but parking is VERY expensive in the lot on the corner of King and University. The Bus might be a better option.

            1. re: Joebob

              They do have a few dedicated parking spots in the first few spaces in the narrow alley between the restaurant and Kokua Market.

              1. re: macaraca

                Thanks for the tip. You don't mean in the Kokua Market lot, do you? Which side of the alley?

                1. re: Joebob

                  Its not in the alley, but in the tiny driveway immediately ewa of the building. Its only 2 or 3 stalls.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Driveway from King St. to where?

                    1. re: Joebob

                      to the apartment building in the back

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        THANK YOU!

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          What about Puck's Alley parking? Haven't parked there for a long time.. have no idea about parking rate.

                          1. re: roro808

                            Very expensive.

                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                            The sign used to say first 8 spaces nearest the street are for the businesses in that building, but the sign is mostly covered up with graffiti...nonetheless, the spaces should be available for diners since Spices has closed, the hair salon closes by 6, and the smoke shop doesn't draw many needing parking. It is awkward getting in and out, but there are usually open spaces.

              2. After a return visit, I agree with N. Kam's 3-star rating of the cuisine. The salad is stellar, the beef curry good, the Rangoon fish curry not so interesting. A noisy place when filled too. But the place was full at 6 Saturday and the waitress and waiter were sprinting most of the time between tables filled with UH professors. THANKS for the precise directions to the parking spaces!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Joebob

                  The tea salad was really delicious... love the mix of crunchy nuts and peas with the tea pesto. Will have to try their beef coconut curry the next time...

                  1. re: roro808

                    The lamb khebat I warmed up today was wonderful. Tender, lean lamb, probably leg, in a delicious sauce with peppers and onions.

                2. how are prices?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: indelibledotink

                    $12-16 for mains, less for appetizers i. e. quite reasonable IMO.

                    1. re: Joebob

                      Just curious--anybody else tried this place yet? Just need more reviews from more CHs.

                      1. re: roro808

                        I've tried it. Like others have said, the highlight was the tea leaf salad. The rest of the food was pretty good, perhaps not good enough that I would drive into town specifically for it, but if I was in the area I would probably go back. I had no previous experience with Burmese food, but I found it somewhat similar to Indian or Nepalese food.

                        1. re: Quince

                          Unfortunately, unless you have been to the country of origin, you will never know the real taste of its food. Either that, or there are so many of the same particular ethnic place that one can gather a general conclusion that the particular food is supposed to taste so, not necessarily so. Outside its origin country, food has been drawn into fusion and catered to "local and general" palate. Any thoughts?

                  2. Wow, that's exciting. I lived on Oahu for 25 years and never stopped regretting the lack of Burmese (and Indonesian and Spanish and ... etc) eateries. Never been to Burma but loved what I've had over the years in the two or three San Francisco Burmese places I've known of. Will try out Dagon next month when I'm on the rock a while. Fermented tea leaf salad sounds weird, but it's no more so than, say, sauerkraut or kimchee or Chinese pickled mustard greens. Love the stuff, myself.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: emu48

                      Went there for dinner -- ordered samosas for appetizer, which was spicy potatoes with chopped coriander leaves and wrapped in philo and fried nicely. Lamb kebat was very delicisous and I ordered spicy curry chicken with triple heat request that I will NOT do the next time. Perhaps double heat would suffice.... Unfortunately the chicken curry lacks of citric ingredients to my taste. The difference between Thai curry and Burmese curry is the use of garam masala in the latter. The other shortcoming is the lack of dessert after those spicy food...at least ice cream or even fresh fruit will do to end the good meal. Will I go back ? Yes, but not right away.

                      1. re: roro808

                        In searching for the taste, I found that the curry contained garam marsala, hence the slight Indian flair in the curry. It's bit different from the neighboring Thai food, which has more sharpness to it, perhaps the use of more tamarind. Just an aftermath observation.