Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tasseomancy on a plate

There seems to be no consensus about Burma Restaurant in Chinatown, but I've had three very good experiences in this extremely-low key restaurant behind the Verizon Center. Granted, I have nothing to compare it to in DC-proper (I loved Village Mingala in New York) but it is reasonably-priced food that combines familiar ingredients and presents them in new ways. Our party of 9 had a table in the back room of the restaurant and we took the opportunity to taste a wide-cross section of dishes by having everything brought out family-style.

For appetizers, we ordered Gold Fingers (batter-dipped and deep-fried slices of squash), Spring Rolls, Golden Fried Prawns, and Spare Ribs. The prawns were light and crunch, and tasted as fresh as anything deep-fried could ever hope to. The Spare Ribs were a stand-out: covered in honey and basil with soya bean and ground peanut sauce. To round out the first course, we ordered two portions of the Green Tea Leaf Salad (prepared with garlic, sesame seeds and dried shrimp) and Mohingar, a fish soup that is a common breakfast dish. Though its New York counterpart was far superior, the Green Tea Leaf Salad is both reminiescent of tabouleh in terms of texture and unlike anything else I've ever had as far as taste goes.

For second courses, we went for Mandalay Nanjee (large rice noodles and chicken with toasted bean, onions, lemon juice, garlic and spices), Chicken Curry with Potatoes (whole pieces of chicken, bones and all, and no coconut milk in the curry), Tamarind Fish (great sauce but the fish was probably salmon), and Black Bean Pork (marinated pork cooked in a pungent bean sauce - loved the sight of whole beans in an Asian dish). All entrees come with steamed rice.

There are 7 vegetarian options on the menu as well as a limited beer selection featuring Chinese and Thai beers. Service is quick, but not overly involved or attentive. The decor is National Geographic upon a Saffron background, but it works. I've never had dessert (on account of being absolutely full after being trigger-happy with the menu) but have heard good things about their coconut cake.

The birthday girl (the only opinion that mattered for the evening) enjoyed the meal, but especially liked "the apps and soup." I encourage the nay-sayers to give this place another chance, or wish really hard for a second Burmese restaurant in the District.

Burma Restaurant
740 6th St NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 638-1280
Burma on Urbanspoon

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