Burmese Food in Oakland

Back in the 90s, there was a Burmese restaurant on Lombard called Irawaddy. Nothing could have sounded more exotic than Burmese food, so we HAD to go. The tables were subterranean and it was empty the first time we went. A year or so later, the place was packed and the owners remembered us as some of their first customers. Since then, I have searched high and low for a tea leaf salad. There are only two places in Oakland that I know of with the blessed salad- Burma Superstar and Nan Yang. I went to Burma Superstar last night with the friend who embarked with me on the Burmese food obsession.

We tried a few new items, along with the standard platha and tea leaf salad. We had the coconut rice- oh so creamy as a base for the beef burmese curry- a dark red rich curry which also paired well with the Tan Poi- cardamom cinnamon raisin rice. The pea shoots were salty, and the overwhelming favorite was Nan Gyi Dok, a noodle dish with a sweet coconutty yellow curry sauce, eggs, split peas and fried onions. YUM. Go here with friends as you will want to try many things, and do NOT forget the cocktails- both virgin and soju laced! The mint lychee smoothie is wonderful, and the cucumber and lychee mojitos were a nice counterpoint to the plates.

I haven’t been to Nan Yang in a couple of years, but the garlic noodles and tea leaf salad are a great go-to if you don’t want to wait for dinner during prime hours.

If you are new or curious about Burmese food- many people liken it to Thai food with less chili. Go for lunch and give it a shot!

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