This is the eighth post in the West Coast! A Week in San Francisco and Sonoma Series. Other posts in this series include Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend – Taste of Sonoma 2015, Glen Ellen Star Sonoma, and Sante Restaurant at the Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa, Russian River Brewing Company, Kin Khao Thai Eatery, and Exploring San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.
Bryan has always stayed away from certain cuisines, like Thai and Indonesian, because he can’t tolerate coconut milk and he doesn’t like dishes that are sweet.
A couple months ago Bryan’s sister, who lives in San Francisco, suggested that he try Burmese food. Her rationale? It had all the flavorful spices and heat associated with Southeast Asian food, but didn’t really use much coconut milk or sugar.
During our visit to SF, the three of us decided to visit Burma Superstar, one of the most famous and popular Burmese restaurants in the city. We showed up late, close to 9:00PM, hoping we could get a table without much of a wait. Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), we still had to wait close to an hour before being seated.
Clearly this place is popular!
The Tea Leaf Salad (pictured at the top of this post) is the restaurant’s most famous dish. Featured on the Food Network, this incredible salad derives its unique flavor from one key component: fermented tea leaves. Imported from Myanmar, the fermented tea leaves form a pesto-like sauce that serves as a dressing for all the other components: lettuce, sunflower seeds, fried garlic, and peanuts.
This dish is a must-get and the flavors are phenomenal. The fermented tea leaves are delicious fragrant yet also intensely flavorful. I loved the variety of textures exhibited in the dish – everything from the crispy lettuce and the the crunchy peanuts to the aromatic fried garlic and the sesame seeds. This was my favorite dish of the evening. It’s clear why it’s so famous.
We also tried some Burmese Samusas (available with chicken or vegetarian. These Burmese “raviolis” (their words, not mine) are hand wrapped and filled with chicken (optional), potatoes, and curry. They are then deep-fried and served with a house special sauce. They remind me Indian samosas, but made with a thinner, crispier spring-roll like skin.
My favorite curry was the Burmese Style Curry with Lamb (also available with beef). The lamb came braised with potatoes in one of the restaurant’s signature curries. Bryan, who doesn’t like coconut milk-based curries, really liked this dish. The lamb was tender, the flavors were outstanding, and overall it was a delicious dish.
The Basil Chili Pork Belly consists of wok fried pork belly with roasted chili, bamboo shoots, jalapenos, lime leaf, and onions. It was flavorful, had plenty of heat, and was quite enjoyable.
The Mint Chicken, a street dish found on the border of Myanmar and Thailand, consists of minced chicken, mint, cloves of garlic and jalapenos all stir fried together in hot wok. This was tasty too.
Bryan’s sister highly recommended getting the Coconut Rice, aromatic jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk and topped with fried onions. It was a fun and tasty alternative to ordering plain white rice or sticky rice.
All in all, we had a fabulous time. Yes, the lines are ridiculously long, but the food is really good. My favorite, by far, was the Tea Leaf Salad, which blew me away with its complex mixture of textures and flavors. I would totally be tempted to order a whole plate by myself.
Lines can get crazy, but coming later does help. They also have a sister restaurant B*Star, which takes reservations and offers fun Asian-inspired dishes. We didn’t go there, but the menu looks amazing. There were some people who showed up at Burma Superstar but then decided to walk over to B*Star instead since the wait at Burma Superstar was so long.
In any event, Burmese food is incredible and Bryan really enjoyed it as well. I’m overdue for checking out some of the amazing Burmese restaurants in the Boston area. After trying Burma Superstar, I can’t wait to explore Burmese food even more!
309 Clement Street