Budae Jigae
Posted March 27th 2008, 11:13am
Does anyone know of any Burmese restaurants in the Chicagoland area (suburbs of course included)? Or, is the closest Burmese restaurant in Fort Wayne? Thanks for your help.
Posted March 27th 2008, 11:20am
The closest thing that I have found is the gang hung lay (northern pork stew) at Sticky Rice. I would be very excited to find this cuisine in this neck of the woods as well, after a stellar meal at Burma Superstar in San Francisco last year. But I have a hunch there is no such place here.
Posted March 27th 2008, 1:07pm
Entirely unsubstantiated guess, but since their menu seems to be rather overinclusive of the region, any chance that Penang in Chinatown would serve Burmese dishes?

Penang Malaysian Cuisine
2201 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-6888

Gypsy Boy

"I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
Posted March 27th 2008, 2:31pm
Sadly there are no Burmese Restaurants here.
NYC has em.
SF has em.
Such a Rich Cuisine !

Imagine a hybrid/marriage of Thai and Indian- and that about sums up Burmese food. So many unique Dishes.
One good cookbook I have is by Copeland (same author of my favorite Cookbook on Sephardic Cooking) Marks, called The Burmese Kitchen, with a soup/curry called ON NO KYAUK SWE, w/ a besam (garbanzo bean flour) and Coconut thickened sauce- garnished w/ Full-Cooked Eggs,Crispy Fried onions, egg noodles- OMG!
what a dish.
Last edited by Hombre de Acero on December 2nd 2008, 4:13pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posted March 27th 2008, 3:18pm
Sadly, none that I know of in Chicago, but you don't have to travel all the way to either coast, since there are, I believe, still two in Bloomington IN (Mandalay & Burmese Gems).

"The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
Posted March 27th 2008, 3:25pm
We had one, years ago, but it closed. :(
Posted March 27th 2008, 3:36pm
LAZ wrote:We had one, years ago, but it closed. :(

Yes, and compared to the Bay Area ones, it wasn't very good, unfortunately. It was in Chinatown Square, as I recall.

Pitmaster Emeritus
Posted March 27th 2008, 7:51pm
Amata wrote:Yes, and compared to the Bay Area ones, it wasn't very good, unfortunately. It was in Chinatown Square, as I recall.


The Burmese place was where Lao Sze Chuan is now. I very much enjoyed the food, years later I vividly remember a delicious, and labor intensive, composed salad.

Closest I have come in recent years to Burmese has been a Tea Leaf Salad at Ton Kiang in San Francisco.

Tea Leaf Salad

Speaking of San Francisco, I'd appreciate a few Burmese recommendations for my next visit.


Ton Kiang Restaurant
5821 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Posted March 27th 2008, 8:43pm
G Wiv wrote:Speaking of San Francisco, I'd appreciate a few Burmese recommendations for my next visit.

The link in my above post points way to my first, but ever so amazing tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar. Also mentioned in my Top 10 of 07. Highly recommended spot!
Posted March 27th 2008, 9:15pm
Hi Gary,

my favorite Burmese place was in Oakland Chinatown but is no longer there. Actually, it moved to Berkeley and dumbed-down its food. So I wouldn't recommend seeking it out...

I would love to get to the current SF Burmese places. Burmese Superstar and another good Burmese place are out in the Richmond District, not far from Ton Kiang (easy access if you are coming down from Marin :) )

I'll try to dig up the name of the other Burmese place and add the address here.
Posted March 27th 2008, 9:52pm
Okay, here's the promised info:

Mandalay Restaurant
4344 California St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-3895

It's about 3 blocks away from the more well known Burma Superstar:

Burma Superstar
309 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 387-2147

Both are in the Inner Richmond neighborhood, about 15 blocks east of where Ton Kiang is.

Pitmaster Emeritus
Posted March 28th 2008, 6:44am
Amy and Jefe,

Thanks for the SF Burmese recommendations which are now residing in my PDA for our next visit to SF. I'm quite looking forward to trying both Mandalay and Burma Superstar, in particular the incredible looking Tea Leaf Salad Jefe pictured.


Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Posted March 28th 2008, 10:51am
I can vouch for Mandalay. We go there every time we're in San Francisco, and our most recent visit (about 18 months ago) did not disappoint. Man, I wish there was a Burmese place in Chicago.
Posted March 28th 2008, 11:39am
If we're tallying up Burmese places around the country, I had a terrific introduction to the cuisine in Washington. I recall the tea leaf salad with wonder.

Burma Restaurant
740 6th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 638-1280

Pitmaster Emeritus
Posted December 2nd 2008, 12:56pm
Amata, Tapler and Jefe,

A scant 10-months after your kind San Francisco Burmese recommendations I tried Mandalay and had a nice, if not exactly transcendent, lunch.

- Balada with curry sauce. Balada is similar to roti, slightly thicker though tasty. Far as the curry sauce, I liked the flavor, but I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and a peanut based satay sauce at an AmeriThai restaurant.

- Tea Leaf Salad (Tea leaves, toasted lentil seeds, ground shrimp, fried garlic, green pepper, sesame seeds, peanuts and dressing) Tea Leaf salad was terrific, a riot of texture, slightly oily tea leaves imparting a subtle vegetal quality, the occasional surprise hit of heat from peppers, which were the exact same color as the teat leaves, dried shrimp funk and lentil/peanut/sesame seed crunch. Well worth the price of admission for this salad alone.

- Banana Blossom Salad. One of the daily specials, seemed, though I should preface I have absolutely no experience with Burmese, Americanized. Overriding sweet flavor dotted with sliced ripe banana and slivers of pear, bamboo shoot and topped with crisp fried rice noodle.

- Pumpkin pork stew with sour mango. Served in a small pumpkin, actually squash, very attractive presentation, quite mild, no real sour, salty or fishy flavor.

- Chin Mong Jaw. Burmese style sour vegetables sauteed with green chili, prawns and bamboo shoot. Hit a high note, sour, funky, fishy, the aggressive flavor I was looking for.

- Coconut rice, light coconut flavor, slight sheen from coconut oil amping up flavor. Not sweet, would make a terrific foil for mango as dessert.

Overall an enjoyable lunch, company was good, met Frank Boyer a Bay area BBQ man of some note, and though I had the impression a few of the dishes we had were dumbed down Tea Leaf Salad and Burmese Sour Vegetables more than took up the slack.

No pictures, I started to take a few pictures and the owner requested I not. She was friendly and interactive, but seemed confused at my intentions, which were, like the good LTHer I am, pure of heart and vast of appetite. :)

Next time in the area it's Burmese Superstar for me.


Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow

Posted December 2nd 2008, 1:16pm
While RAB and I were in San Francisco last month, we swung by Larkin Express Deli for a tea leaf salad to go. I've missed my TLSs since moving to Chicago, so stopping was necessary, even though we were in between meals (Hog Island Oyster Co. and Canteen) and not particularly hungry.

They have a strange menu that includes "New York style" sandwiches and a handful of Burmese items.

The $6 TLS was definitely the biggest bang for the buck I've ever gotten with a TLS - - huge. Usually, I am sad that the TLSs are so small and am tempted to order a second one.

The other thing I'll say about this TLS is that it was super-funky. I don't recall ever having a TLS with quite so much tea before, even when I was in Burma - - and the leaves were in substantial chunks. RAB began to question my mental health when I used the word "funky" for the 111th time to describe the salad as I munched on it.

It was a really good version of the salad, and made for a great snack. But, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to a TLS novice.

We didn't sample anything else, so can't comment on the rest of the food. The service was quite friendly, though, and the washroom was surprisingly nice and clean.


[edited to add belated photo]
Last edited by REB on January 30th 2009, 11:34am, edited 1 time in total.

Posted December 2nd 2008, 1:29pm
Oh, and the best Burmese food I've ever had is at Mandalay in Silver Spring, Maryland (suburb of D.C.). Wonderful salads, amazing pickled mango pork, and tasty sour mustard chicken. But, be careful when you request extra spicy. RAB and I like heat, and had a few dishes that were nearly inedible, covered in hot red peppers. Mandalay is easily accessible from downtown D.C. via the red line Metro.

Mandalay is generally viewed as better, but less centrally-located, than the Burmese restaurant LAZ mentioned.

Solid renditions of the tea leaf salad and pickled mango pork can also be found at the pan-Asian Spice Island Tea House in Pittsburgh, PA.

I'm really baffled as to why there's no Burmese in Chicago. I know of three Burmese spots in relatively little D.C.
Posted March 10th 2009, 10:26pm
I had occasion to spend the weekend in Fort Wayne; I managed to take a few hours to check out a couple of the businesses catering to the Burmese population (at 3000 people, the largest settlement in the US).

Fort Wayne is not a big city, nor a dense one, so my hopes of finding something like LA's Koreatown, or even Argyle Street, were not to be satisfied. (For reference, Chicago's Vietnamese population is > 14,000 as of the 2000 census.) Furthermore, one ill-informed web review indicated that the Little Burma grocery store was closed. Not only was that not true, but a short walk from that shop was True Friend Tea House, an actual Burmese (or in their parlance, "Burmese-style") restaurant. Both businesses lie on the moderately busy S. Calhoun Street, recently dubbed the Mama Reese Memorial Parkway. I can't think of any streets in Chicago that have quite the same mix of commercial and residential activity as S. Calhoun. The houses tend to be a bit run down, and the store fronts are a mix of in- and out-of-business; there are a couple of mexican restaurants, an antique shop, a defunct movie theater (that is being restored), the offices of Frost Illustrated... but none of that was why I was there.

I actually parked across the street from Saigon Market, but decided to defer a visit until I'd seen some other things. Before I found Little Burma, I also discovered a Laotian Grocery and Gift shop, but it was totally defunct. A few blocks further along, I found Little Burma, clearly still in business, and actually kind of bustling. It's a small and fairly spartan shop, with stock mostly from Thailand, Vietnam, and China. The only products I could find clearly exported from Myanmar were a few varieties of pickled tea leaves. Most of these appeared to be (industrially) packaged as mini-bundles of pickled tea leaves as well as several varieties of dried legumes, so that you could lay out the entire spread. (One cheaper package looked like it might just be tea leaves.) While the packages illustrate a platter with a center dish of tea leaves surrounded by dishes of each of the other kinds of snack, the woman at the counter assured me that young people these days just eat them all mixed together...

I bought one package of pickled tea leaves, as well as a bit too much of other kinds of snacks that, while not Burmese, mostly looked unfamiliar based on my occasional visits to Chicago asian markets. I also noted some sausages that were marked "keep refrigerated" but which weren't, despite the fact that there were also produce coolers and freezers. I opted not to purchase those. (I'll save the full rundown on snacks for some future post.)

Not much further north on Calhoun Street was a substantially larger store simply named "Asian Market." This didn't have the pickled tea leaves (as far as I saw) but had substantially more other stuff from SE Asia, as well as some South Asian spices and sauces. I bought yet more snacks, and then headed up the street, concerned that the big rain which was already going in Chicago would hit before I got home.

A few blocks further, past the abandoned Rialto theater and a vibrantly colored house was "True Friend Tea House," which I'd found written up in the News-Sentinel online. (Another link found while writing this post...) While the article indicates that the menu changes daily, I was given a two-sided laminated menu which didn't look as though it did change. There was also a marker board covered in Burmese writing, about which I know nothing.

I was travelling alone, as my brother was indisposed, so my ordering power was woefully limited. Still, the prices were low (menu scans below) so I went ahead and ordered a starter of samusar. Samusar as, are the name suggests, part of the tradition of stuffed dumplings across the Indian Ocean. While described on the menu as "burmese style egg roll," they were much more like Indian samosas, although the rice paper wrapping was a nice light alternative to typically dense samosas. The shape was actually more like Ethiopian sambusa, but with more interesting spicing, as probably befits the geography. They came with a sweetish hot sauce which was totally superfluous, but they were friend perfectly and very delicious.

For my main dish, I had fried noodles which, while not what I thought I was ordering, turned out to be very tasty. The dish was not entirely unlike pad thai, although the noodle size and general seasoning reminded me more of singapore noodles (also not surprising given the geography.) While the noodles were not spicy at all, they were accompanied by a simple cabbage salad which was spicy, and which actually was my favorite single dish. There was also a clear cabbage soup which was uninteresting, especially since I was dining alone and already had too much to eat. (It all warmed up nicely for lunch the next day.)

The staff were extremely friendly, and there were two or three tables occupied by other Burmese. There were two TVs playing the same program, an exceedingly strange variety show which looked like it was taking place on a temple stage and featured more than one singing drag queen.

After lunch I walked back to the car, snapping a few more shots of neighborhood spots like the South Side Cafe, which looked like it might be cut from the Patty's Diner mold (then again, it could be totally routine) and the Yacht Club location of a mid-size local beverage chain, Belmont Beverage. I liked the sign, but it didn't look like it merited a stop inside.

It's probably not worth the full-on detour from the Indiana Toll Road, but should you find yourself in the vicinity of Fort Wayne, it's definitely worth dropping by.

Pictures (as always, click for Flickr page, where larger sizes can be seen...)

Saigon Market

Laotian Grocery and Gift

Laotian Grocery interior.

Little Burma Grocery

Rialto Theater

Asian Market

Colorful House

True Friend Tea House

Samusar ("Burmese style egg roll")

Fried noodles, cabbage salad and cabbage soup.

South Side Cafe

Yacht Club

Spruced up

True Friend Tea House menu, p. 1

True Friend Tea House menu, p. 2

True Friend Tea House menu, p. 3

True Friend Tea House menu, p. 4

True Friend Tea House
2310 S. Calhoun St.
Ft. Wayne, IN 46807

Asian Market
2615 S Calhoun St
Fort Wayne, IN‎

Little Burma Grocery
3230 S. Calhoun
Ft. Wayne, IN

Belmont Beverage: Yacht Club Location
2915 S Calhoun St
Fort Wayne, IN‎

South Side Cafe
3028 S Calhoun St
Fort Wayne, IN‎

Saigon Market
3610 S Calhoun St
Fort Wayne, IN‎

Joe G.

"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
Posted August 30th 2009, 10:35pm
I've got a friend over at Roadfood who's inquiring about Burmese restaurants here in Chicago (or Milwaukee, for that matter), and I'm stumped. I know there are plenty of countries around Burma (Myanmar-reminds me of a Seinfeld episode...) that are represented here, but no place that serves Burmese cuisine specifically. I'm not even sure what defines Burmese food from Thai/Vietnamese/Laotian/Cambodian.

Any help is appreciated.

Posted August 30th 2009, 10:54pm
No Burmese restaurants in Chicago, unfortunately. Even Miss Asia, which features dishes from all over Southeast Asia neglects Burmese cuisine. More details in this thread.

Posted August 31st 2009, 7:01am
It sounds like a road trip to Fort Wayne is in order to try some Burmese food:) Speaking of Lao food, I have been to Laos and and the food is similar to Northern Thai style food. As someone previously mentioned, Burmese food has influences from Indian and Thai food.

Edit: I didn't mean to infer that Lao and Burmese food are similar. The best larb I ever had was in Laos where it in fact is one of the national dishes. They also eat sticky rice with everything. A trip to a Northern Thai restaurant would definitely satisfy those cravings. However, a trip to Fort Wayne would be the only way to get some Burmese food until someone opens a Burmese restaurant here in Chicago. :) Does someone has a pickled tea leaf with my name on it :wink:
Last edited by na on August 31st 2009, 11:35am, edited 1 time in total.
Posted August 31st 2009, 8:58am
Back in 2006 I posted a short notice on Cafe Mingala in Manhattan (the restaurant still is in operation). Here it is again:

Despite sharing a considerable border Burmese and Thai food are not similar. The spice-wary diner whose friends insist on South Asian food should opt for Cafe Mingala, one of a few Burmese restaurants in town (they don't refer to themselves as providing Myanmar cuisine, and who am I to argue). We ordered Basil Duck with Vegetables, Rangoon Night Market Noodles (Egg Noodles with Boiled Duck in a too-sweet Garlic Sauce), and the highlight Keema, which is rather like a Sloppy Joe in Mille-Feuille Pastry: Anglo-Rangoon on the Seine. Although the ground beef and potato mix was curried, it was a curry that any Brit could love. I fantasize that Thai gourmets whisper that their neighbors are wimps, but the dish was a pleasant surprise: a Boeuf Wellington for everyman. I suspect that recipes were surgically nipped and tucked for their Upper East Side clientele, but better an enhanced Burmese cuisine than no Burmese cuisine at all.

Over the years I have also had Burmese food in Boston (Cambridge) and Atlanta (Norcross). The Atlanta restaurant has since closed.

Cafe Mingala
1393B Second Avenue (at 73rd Street)
Manhattan (Upper East Side)

Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik

Lead Moderator
Posted August 31st 2009, 10:09am
na wrote:It sounds like a road trip to Fort Wayne is in order to try some Burmese food:) Speaking of Lao food, I have been to Laos and and the food is similar to Northern Thai style food. As someone previously mentioned, Burmese food has influences from Indian and Thai food.

If this indeed true, than a trip to Spoon Thai may help to satisfy. Their offerings are considered Northern Thai.



"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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Posted August 31st 2009, 10:35am
Burmese food does have influences from Northern Thailand. But there are some dishes that are distinctively Burmese. My favorite mohinga and la phet thote (tea leaf salad) are 2... the kau swes are similar to Chinese/Thai noodle preparations, but man oh man, are they good!

I did enjoy Burma Superstar, but find Yellow Pa Taut in SOMA is also very good and conveniently located. But nothing compares with the real thing in Myanmar. In fact I am having my dad bring a few bags of ingredients needed for the tea leaf salad when he comes in October!
Posted August 31st 2009, 10:37am

the sushi department within my department is staffed by a rotating influx of Burmese

There's a local Christian missionary movement...sigh...devoted to offering oppressed Burmese a means to a different life in America just outside of Indianapolis; so far no Burmese restaurants as far as I know.

Over the past year I've gotten to know them a bit, was even invited for cooking lessons at one manager's house...as per the unfortunate cliche' she holds a degree in microbiology, has lived all over SE Asia and India, translates for Burmese immigrants in a medical capacity, AND manages the sushi franchise. When she sleeps, I dunno...

Anyway, the point of this blip is; at least the Burmese I know don't appreciate their country being referred to as Myanmar. Myanmar is the regime. Similarly, when I first began work I researched a little of "their" language on the web with the result that I was gently-chided..."min gla ba(hello)...this is Myanmar language...we say amongst ourselves...gi bai(hello)...this is Burma."

I need to go for those cooking lessons sometime.

"Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman

GNR Sultan
Posted August 31st 2009, 12:50pm
My first and only experience with Burmese food was near Dulles Airport in Sterling, Virginia. I remember enjoying the meal a lot and looking for Burmese food in Chicagoland when I got back here, to no avail.

Posted September 1st 2009, 3:37am
Is Little Rangoon in Moline the only Burmese restaurant in Illinois? Note that they serve only a limited number of Burmese dishes.

Little Rangoon
1401 5th Av
Moline IL
Posted November 18th 2012, 11:02am
for those of you who don't follow world affairs, myanmar (burma) is absolutely white hot right now. so hot that President Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit when he arrives this week, and not just to say he was first. its importance is disproportionate to its size and will only grow for some time.

i was in the bay area last year, and until then had never had burmese food. never thought about it for that matter. we brought in from mingalaba in burlingame. it was amazing and exactly what you would expect given its location -- between India and Southeast Asia.

i know the burmese population in chicago is small -- tho larger than most other places in the U.S. -- but i would love to see a burmese place open up in the city. i'm unaware of any currently in or near the city; i know there are some places in roadtrip locations. if i'm mistaken, please enlighten me.

1213 Burlingame Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 343-3228
Posted November 29th 2012, 3:26pm
germuska wrote:I had occasion to spend the weekend in Fort Wayne; I managed to take a few hours to check out a couple of the businesses catering to the Burmese population (at 3000 people, the largest settlement in the US).

correction: 3000 in Fort Wayne is the largest Burmese "refugee settlement". The largest Burmese population in America, of course, is LA.

Socal Burmese Association is in Monterey Park (located at a dentist's office, natch). Their annual SGV-area Thinyan festival/party -- I say festival because there is no booze to go with the coconut desserts -- is where one gets to do tofu salad, mohinga, ohn no khao swe taste-offs at affordable prices.

One of the "b"etter Burmese restaurants in America is probably Yoma in Monterey Park. It puts all the SF bay whatever stars to shame and may be the most underrated restauarant in all of LA. Gets NO LOVE, not even on Chow. I believe PIGMON/tatterdemalion/ReneG(?) partook in this couple of years ago.
Posted July 6th 2015, 7:38pm
A recent report of the Burmese scene in Fort Wayne can be found here.

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