f you live in San Francisco and don't know about Burma Superstar, you are probably a shut-in of some creepy variety and, as long as you're not hoarding animals (have you seen those shows?!?), that's fine with me. All it means is one less person between me and my samusa soup. Point is, the food is, well, super at the Superstar. The wait on the other hand? Not so much. So, when I heard from a few different sources that the food at Mandalay, another (and, in fact, the original) Burmese restaurant in SF, was better AND (cue angels singing) they take reservations on OpenTable, I knew I had to go. And, in the spirit of trying new things, this is also the first time I tried out my spiffy new iPhone for picture taking. Let's look, shall we?
That right there is simply the pepper oil goodness they leave on the table should you want your food a touch hotter. It's really not as hot as it looks and was quite good. I used it on my tea leaf salad:In this close-up, the tea leaves are the darker green masses on the leftish side of things. If you're not hip to tea leaf salad, it is a mix of fermented tea leaves (don't hate - they're yummy!), lentils, peanuts, fried garlic, sesame seeds, and lettuce. Normally it has dried shrimp, but seeing as how that is NASTY we didn't get any. This salad was pretty good but, even though I couldn't figure out why, I think I like the one at Superstar better. I really wish I could put my finger on it. Maybe it is the tea leaves themselves? Who knows. Luckily the samusa soup was the bomb:
I love samusa soup, what with its rich onion and curry leaf broth and chunks of broken samusas (like Indian samosas meet falafel) throughout. Mandalay's version is just as good as Superstar's - aromatic, comforting, and delicious - so in this very important category the two are neck and neck.
I always have a hard time deciding on an entree at Burmese restaurants because what I really want is just more samusa soup. However, getting some greens sounded like a good idea and getting some greens paired with fried tofu sounded even better, so I had the aptly named Walnut Broccoli Tofu. (There were also some walnuts thrown in there.) The sauce was very tasty, though I did need to use more of the pepper sauce to give it the heat I wanted. Still, a solid dish and definitely as good as anything I've eaten at Superstar.
Verdict? If I feel up to a line, I'd still hit up Burma Superstar, but the convenience of making a reservation, not to mention the fact that the service at Mandalay is AWESOME, gives them the slight edge. Hooray for discovering new great places in SF. Love it.
Next up: A trip to Los Gatos where I'll throw back some cold ones and burgers and then put on my fanciest of pants for a trip to one of this country's great restaurants. And don't worry - I'll bring my nice camera and leave the iPhone in my purse. :) Hooray Labor Day Weekend. Have a good one, everybody!