Monday, March 28, 2011

Burmese Kitchen in San Francisco

Home-style Dishes from Across the Pacific
452 Larkin St., San Francisco
Civic Center/Tenderloin
PH: 415.474.5569
Open Mon., 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Tue.–Sat., 10:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (closed Sunday)
Reservations, major credit cards accepted

Last week my friend Hector and I checked out the Bali exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, and afterwards we decided to look for dinner in nearby Little Saigon. And while Hector had his mind set on Vietnamese, which I’m always gamed for, I threw a twist and suggested Burmese Kitchen.

The restaurant used to be a fast lunch deli called Larkin Express, but its owner Dennis Lin transformed it two years ago into a place to serve up dishes of his homeland of Burma.

While the exterior with the fading photos of dishes in the window make the place seem like a dive, the inside was surprisingly warm and comfortable with a quaint Southeast Asian décor. It was also very popular with all the tables pretty much taken. Hector and I were able to grab the last two-top near the entrance.

We started dinner with one of the popular salads. The tea leaf salad is a classic, but we wanted to try something different and went with the Gin Dok, or Ginger Salad ($5.95). When it arrived, it wasn’t the most prettiest plate, looking like a pile of beige food.

But when we ate it, we tasted the crunch of the many nuts mixed in (I tasted sunflower, peanuts, and maybe soybeans) with the freshness of the lettuce combined with the tang of the fresh ginger. The ginger flavor was nice and subtle, and not overpowering like it could be. This was a clear winner for the dish of the night.

Our waiter convinced Hector to order the Fried Golden Tofu ($4.95), which you know I wouldn’t suggest since I don’t eat deep fried foods. And this dish is almost representative of why I’m not a fan of deep frying. You get this nice home-made tofu that’s immersed in hot oil, creating almost a sponge for the oil.

I tried one just to see what it was like, and it wasn’t anything special. Because the tofu was thinly sliced, it was almost like tofu chips. Hector said he thought it would come out like Japanese agedashi tofu, but that’s a more refined dish of fried tofu sitting in a broth. This was just fried tofu, although Hector did like the dipping sauce and didn’t have any problems eating most of the plate.

For our mains, first came the Fish with Tamarind Sauce ($6.50), which looked a bit like a curry. It was basically fish filets covered by the brown sauce. I didn’t get any distinctive flavor, and Hector agreed that the tamarind wasn’t very prominent.

Then came another dish that also seemed like a curry. It was the Pork with Pickled Mango ($6.50), which I’ve never heard of before. Again, the dish just looked like a plate of brown clumps, not very appetizing. But the pork cubes were nice and tender, and I would sometimes bite into the chunks of pickled mango. And while that taste can be to strong for people not used to it, it reminded me of eating preserved plum candy as a kid.

Dinner started off with a blast with the ginger salad, but then just didn’t go any where with the home-cooked dishes that lacked any visual appeal on the plate. Still, the comfy feel of the restaurant and the prices make Burmese Kitchen an affordable option in the neighborhood.

Single guy rating: 2.5 stars (salads shine)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Larkin Express / Burmese Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

How is it compared to Burma Superstar in Clement st? anyway, I'm from Bali and hope you enjoy the exhibit!

foodhoe said...

was the exhibit good? I love Burmese salads! Maybe if I stick with soup and salad I'll be okay... maybe you should have just dined at the museum cafe!

Single Guy Ben said...

Even though I think Burma Superstar is a bit hyped and overcrowded, the quality of food is just a tad better than Burmese Kitchen, although I like the salads better at BK than BS.

The Bali exhibit was fun and interesting, but heavy on the religious aspect of the art and a bit small for a special exhibit. There were only a few interesting pieces, and mostly just a lot of reading and learning. Still, I give them credit for pulling together this exhibit from a variety of collections since no one is really a major Balinese art collector. A nice peek into the culture there, just don't go in with high expectations to be wowed.

kathleen said...

hello there, i just want you to know that i really enjoy looking arround in your website
and thanks for sharing imformation im looking forward for more amazing post