First, I'd like to acknowledge that I can not think about this restaurant without singing its name to the tune of "Ghetto Superstar." Now that I've got that off my chest, let's move on....
I've wanted to eat here for a while now. I've heard tales of their devoted fan base and in-your-face flavors, but wasn't convinced of their ability to be vegan friendly. After all, a lot of the menu included dried shrimp. So, I let some years go by and forgot all about BS. Then, I was shown two signs within a week which let me know it was time to head to the famed Inner Richmond restaurant. The first was an email from PETA (yup, I get those emails) in which they were overjoyed to announce the opening of a BS location near their offices in Oakland, going on to name some of their fave vegan dishes. The second was that the Tea Leaf Salad appeared on the Big Eat list. A good friend of mine is trying to hit all 100 things on said list, and I am always happy to accompany someone on a food journey.
We were to meet at 7 but I arrived early in hopes of getting our name on the list. Even though it was Tuesday, there was still a long line. Always a good sign in my book. We waited about 20 minutes and were finally let in to the tiny space. We were seated right by the window so everyone waiting outside could salivate over our food. They were also salivating every time the door opened because the smell that wafted onto the street was intoxicating. Granted I was very hungry, but Burmese food is a like a combo of two of my favorite cuisines - Thai and Indian - and the spices are quite olfactory to say the least. It was all I could do refrain from yelling out "Bring on the food!" as soon as we sat down.
In keeping with the "must eat now" mentality, we ordered the Tea Leaf Salad right away. The menu says that it will "change your perception of what a salad can be..." I'm not too sure about all that but it was really good. Made with all sorts of crunchy lentils, peanuts, veggies, and (of course) fermented tea leaves, it is a unique and flavorful way to start the meal. The black stuff is the tea:
Next up we had a PETA favorite, the Samusa Soup. Made of a rich veggie broth and filled with cracked samusas (like Indian samosas but with a "u".... and a slightly different flavor profile), falafels, and lentils, this hearty soup was awesome, and was the highlight of the meal for me. I can't wait to order it again....
We also got some super yummy broccoli with fried onions. Wok-tossed in a simple white wine and garlic sauce, they were a bright and light contrast to the richness of the soup:
All things said and done, I'm sad it took me so long to get to Burma Superstar. I'd say I'll be going back soon, but so many people have told me that Mandalay right down the street has far superior food (hard to believe) without the lines, so I will probably hit that up first. Meanwhile, I'll be humming through the rest of my day. "Burma Superstar, that is what you are. Coming from afar, reaching for the stars. Come away with me, to another place. We can rely on each other, uh huh......."