You’re a (Burma) Superstar
Since moving to San Francisco about a year ago, one of my favorite dining experiences thus far has been at Burma Superstar. I remember hearing about this restaurant for the first time and thinking, “Burmese food? What could this be?” and proceeded to ask Google about it.
As it turns out, Burmese cooking fuses together some pretty epic culinary influences, combining Chinese, Thai and Indian flavors and techniques that result in a cuisine that is truly unique. And though I have yet to visit another restaurant showcasing this style of cookery, I feel confident that Burmese food can get no better in the Inner Richmond than Burma Superstar.
In the past, I have only held night hours Burma Superstar, usually on “date night”, and left feeling happy, tipsy and culturally awakened, if only via mouth. But my most recent visit to Burma wasn’t during the usual dinner hours, but for brunch. That’s right folks, BRUNCH. The menu selections appear to be the same as the items served for dinner, but, honestly, the experience is amazing and I highly recommend you give brunch at this institution a try.
A couple of weekends ago, we found ourselves cruising Clement Street for breakfast and happened to walk past Burma Superstar. Realizing people were inside the restaurant during the day, I stopped in the door way with what I can only describe as a confused, hungry facial expression when a server asked if we would like to sit down. “Yes please!” was the unified answer, and in we went.
Lunch at Burma Superstar runs from 11:30am – 3pm and the restaurant reopens from 5 until 9:30pm for dinner. Without a line or wait, we were led to a two top in a near-full section of the restaurant by the window. This no wait situation is far from par for the course for this restaurant, as this place draws a crowd: patrons will form a line down the block and place their food orders before they are even seated to taste the goodness that is Burma Superstar. Surrounding tables were quickly seated after us, and, before long, the restaurant was packed. Apparently, people are in on the “secret” that Burma is open for lunch.
This was one of the first times that I have spent time on Clement Street during daylight hours. For no particular reason, I just happen to work in a different neighborhood and loathe walking great distances in the ridiculous shoes I sometimes wear to work. And parking on Clement can be a beast, and I lack the vehicular maneuvers and parking spot sighting skills necessary for this task. It’s a regular concrete safari out there.
Those failures aside, it is absolutely worth the trek to this part of the Inner Richmond as this street is lined with interesting things: retail shops, mani/pedi spas and a surprising amount of stores that cater to your fish tank needs. And, of course, a plethora of diverse, delicious restaurants including Burma Superstar.
Beverages and the like
As we sat down we were handed two menus: one for drinks and one for food. I can get on the day drinking wagon anytime, but at Burma Superstar, the flavors and textures of the food are so good that palate-numbing booze would have made this culinary experience futile.
Appetizers and Salads
Be warned, when opening the food menu, there is a good chance everything will look good enough to order. And it is. But don’t order everything because then there will be no reason to come back, right? I fight this urge on every visit, and instead try something new each time. Except for the Tea Leaf Salad. This item is always on order when I sit down. No exceptions, winners never skip this salad.
Tea Leaf Salad
The Tea Leaf Salad is a must try. Unless you are allergic to nuts or detest crunchiness, order this salad! A run down of the ingredients is given upon delivery and is then tossed for the table. I shouldn’t say table, because really this salad only serves two. If you’re fiending for greens or have more than two in your party, go ahead and order more. You’ll thank me later.
Tea Leaf Salad
This salad has a lot going on, as explained by Burma Superstar’s menu, “With textures of fried garlic, peanuts, sunflower seeds, roasted sesame, lemons, tomatoes, romaine, dried shrimp (or vegetarian), it’s a party in your mouth!” Party in your mouth is a highly accurate description. The fermented tea leaves are piled atop a bed of romaine lettuce with the remaining ingredients arranged around the sides of the bowl. After tossing, a squeeze of lemon is the finishing touch, so ready your forks because it’s to dig in. At once crisp and crunchy, refreshing and roasty; this salad is texturally pleasing and full of flavor.
You guessed it… another picture of Tea Leaf Salad
Though the weather was warm, it felt like a curry kind of day, so Lamb Kebat came in hot for the entree round.
As told by Burma Superstar’s menu, Lamb Kebat is “wok tossed steak or lamb with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and mint leaves.” You do get a choice of protein, and though the steak was tempting, the combination of lamb and mint just rocks. Resembling a stew, this dish sings notes of savory-sweet curry spices, balanced by juicy tomatoes, sliced jalapeños and fresh mint with tender slices of lamb throughout.
Even with all the amazing dishes, Burma Superstar wouldn’t be the experience it is without the amazing service staff. Feeling ‘taken care of’ here is an understatement. Though the restaurant gets crazy busy and , you will always feel like a welcome guest, in the cozy home of a chef who creates food that makes your taste buds sing. Great for dates, brunch and smaller groups.
Burma Superstar earns a three nom rating for the amazing food, stellar service and the now not-so-secret lunch hours.