Jasmine Market: Burmese/ Myanmar (and Indian) Food
- phamschottler Jun 25, 2014 08:45 AM
A couple months ago, I read the following article about a new Burmese restaurant, The Golden Owl, in La Puente:
In the article, Burmese food was described as "a fusion of Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian". Those are probably my favorite flavors so I HAD to try Burmese food. I live on the westside, and instead of driving all the way out to The Golden Owl, Daw Yee, or Yoma, I opted to try Jasmine Market instead. Jasmine Market has a predominantly Indian deli menu, but after 5pm and on weekends, it serves Burmese (or Burmese-inspired) specialties. And they are fantastic. And cheap (at least along westside standards). Here's a run-down of my experience:
The Mohingar (Rice Noodle Fish Soup) is a curry-like soup with angel hair rice noodles in a fish broth, and includes banana trunk, eggs, fried split bean, fish sauce, chiles, and spices. Each bowl is brought out with a bottle of lemon juice and a container of dried chiles (use both of these!). Mohingar reminds me of Num Banh Chok (Cambodian Rice Noodle Soup) but milder in spice and sourness. And even though it wasn't as bold as Num Banh Chok, I found the Mohingar to be balanced in flavors and very comforting. I loved the crunchy split bean fritters (they are coated with a rice flour batter, in case anyone cares that this dish has no gluten). A must-get for those new to Burmese food.
The Tofu Salad was a surprise hit. The tofu was soft and creamy but still dense (almost cheese-like), very well spiced, and made savory with fish sauce and dried shrimp (I think). I did some quick research on Burmese tofu and discovered that it is chickpea-based, noticeably different than the soy-based version w/ which we're more familiar. This dish came with a side of cabbage in a thin "soup", laced with something bright (like ginger or Szechuan peppercorns) and something savory (likely fish sauce). I ate half of it like soup, then poured the rest over the tofu like dressing.
I got the Lamb Biryani to go. Initial bites were good but not as interesting as I'd hoped. But successive bites brought more complex flavors. This was listed as an Indian dish, and it is, but it was definitely under the influence of another culture. There was a subtle richness to it that MAY have been from gobs of savory lamb fat or, even better, marrow (the latter of which is possible because there were marrow-filled bones in the dish). The lamb was tender and well seasoned with spices, and there was a lot of it (hiding under a mound of fluffy rice). This dish comes with a side of Raita, and as I do with most sides, I dumped it onto the main dish and ate it all together. Delicious. This is a no-brainer; get this.
I got the Goat Curry to go as well. Described only as having been "cooked in homemade mild spices", I was surprised to find the flavors were much more forward, with distinct cinnamon notes. I liked this a lot, but to be honest, I couldn't get enough of the curried vegetables that came on the side.
I have already been back a couple more times. Interested in others' experiences here or with Burmese food in general.