Burmese Cuisine adds to the long list of cuisines that offer vegan specialties.
I find its rich, complex flavors presenting themselves as a fusion of Indian and Thai food. No wonder, I found out later that Myanmar (formerly Burma) is bordered by China, India, Thailand, and Bangladesh – countries that probably influenced Burmese spices and ingredients. I’d love to travel to Myanmar one day and explore the history behind these influences.
For now, I’d settle with their restaurants in the Bay Area. One of the restaurants is Mingalaba Restaurant in downtown Burlingame.
Poised at one of the affluent neighborhoods in the Bay Area, Mingalaba offers a certain kind of sophistication without going pretentious nor snobby. Compared to the other Burmese restaurants I’ve been in: Burma Superstar, Burmese Kitchen (both in San Francisco) and Little Yangon (Daly City), Mingalaba captures the fanciest ambiance without the impression it would be too pricey. The food and service however, are equally good in all of these restaurants.
To start it off, Chris and I ordered Tea Leaf Salad, a Burma specialty!
One of our servers explained each ingredient as well as prepared everything in front of us. The highlight of this dish was the tea leaves that were imported from Burma. The salad also featured different varieties of nuts that added crunch, flavor and complexity to the palate, yum!
We also ordered one of my favorites, Samusa Soup!
Just like the name implies, the soup contained chopped Samosas cooked in hearty Asian flavors. With its sliced chili peppers, this rich soup could go extremely spicy. I took great care picking them out to not burn my tongue.
Last but not the least, we ordered a Burmese Vegetable Curry. Unlike other Asian curries, this one has yellow beans and long chili (the kind of chili pepper you’d put in Sinigang). To my surprise, the curry wasn’t spicy at all. It was hearty and perfect with rice, but I wasn’t satisfied as I was with the Tea Leaf Salad and Samusa Soup.
All in all, Mingalaba proves to be a wonderful spot for vegans. In fact, the menu offered many more vegan options than what we had ordered but Chris and I were too full to try the other ones. We actually ended up packing the rest of the curry to go and finished it up later that day.