On a recent trip to the Bay Area, we met some friends at Burma Superstar, a restaurant I last visited about 15 years ago. When we arrived at Clement St, there was a line outside, hovering, waiting for a coveted table inside. I put my name on the list, and sipped on complimentary hot tea while we waited.
Under normal circumstances, I am the last person to wait for a table. However, my policy when traveling is to wait because chances are, it’ll be some time before I’m back here again.
It took around an hour, but my friend and I were able to catch up, and my son caught a mid-autumn festival celebration, happening several blocks away.
I knew the one thing I wanted. Tea Leaf Salad ($13) is a unique dish which uses a mixture of many ingredients to create a flavorful, and texturally incredible experience. There is lettuce, and marinated tea leaves, plus fried garlic, peanuts, sunflower seeds, roasted sesame, lemon, tomatoes, fresh greens, and dried shrimp. Before the salad is tossed, the server explains every component on the plate along with descriptions of its flavors. This is the dish I dream of whenever I think of Burmese food.
Mint Chicken with String Beans ($15.50) is comprised of diced chicken sauteed with string beans, mint, cloves of garlic, cilantro and jalapenos. It is savory and spicy, and pairs perfectly with steamed rice. The mint lends a hint of freshness to the beautifully wok-fired chicken tinged with a little char.
I see another table eating Shan Noodles ($13.50) and immediately wanted them. The rice noodles are topped with a spicy tomato sauce with pickled radish, cilantro, and peanuts. These delectable strands of al dente noodles remind me of zha jiang mien, but even better. They are spicy and can be prepared without meat. I love all the varying textures dotted between the noodles.
I am intrigued by Burmese Sour Leaf with Shrimp. The sour leaf is the texture of Indian saag, with large plump shrimp peeking through the soft vegetables. Bamboo shoots add a little crunch, while shrimp paste provides the foundation of flavor in the dish. I love the combination of sour, spicy and salty in each mouthful.
There is a reason why Burma Superstar remains a huge hit after all these years. The food has stayed consistent, and is as tasty as I remembered. If you’re visiting the Bay Area, and looking for a new experience, go give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.
309 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94118