I love trying new foods, particularly those of other countries and cultures. So when a “Best of Burma: Coming Soon” sign showed up in front of the old Shuffles Ice Cream, I jumped for joy – Burmese food was coming to Santa Rosa!
After Best of Burma opened last fall, I set out with my husband to try out this new culinary adventure. I had no idea what to expect for our dinner, and I had no idea what type of food Burmese actually was. I knew very little about Burma- other than the country was now known as Myanmar, and it’s the home of origin to the Burmese Python. But as one always up for new things, I was eager to try it out.
Our server Kevin was very helpful, and explained that the dishes were served family style, and pointed out what items were the most authentic. For someone as clueless to Burmese food as I was, I would say they were similar to Thai – lots of noodle and curry dishes.
To start with, we ordered the tea leaf salad. It came arranged with the individual components of lettuce, fried yellow beans, fried garlic, sesame seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fresh tomatoes, and jalapenos arranged around a pile of the tea leaves. We opted to have the dish vegetarian, but normally it comes with dried shrimp. Kevin then squeezed fresh lemon over the tea leaves, and then mixed everything together. He told us that the leaves are fermented in a clay pot for 3-6 months.
Our next Best of Burma dish was Nan Gyu Thoke, a rice noodle dish with a chicken coconut curry sauce. Like the salad, it came arranged with the ingredients separate, and the server mixed at the table. I asked if that was a traditional presentation, and Kevin told us no, its just something they like to do because many people are unfamiliar with the ingredients. We also chose Pork Curry with Potatoes, which was as it sounded, but also marinated with pickled mangoes. I like both of these curry dishes, which were lighter and fruitier than other Thai curries I’ve had. Our server explained that most of the dishes in the cuisine were wet and saucy like these, which is complimentary to the wet and humid climate the country experiences.
For dessert, I somewhat reluctantly ordered Sooji, which Kevin described as a baked cream of wheat. It was the most authentic dessert they had, amongst a selection of sticky rice and ice creams. Despite not being excited about it (I mean, baked cream of wheat?), I was determined to explore all sides of the Best of Burma menu, so based on his recommendation, we forged ahead. It came with mango ice cream, and while it wasn’t my favorite dish by far, it wasn’t bad. Similar to a dry rice pudding, with flavors of cinnamon and coconut, it was much different than the descendant chocolate and sugary things I consider dessert.
I’ll be sure to come back. There were several other things on the menu that I’m eager to try, such as samosa soup and the rainbow salad, which was described as “4 types of noodles and 22 other ingredients that were too many to list.”
Best of Burma is located at 528 7th Street.