I had dinner at Yamo, a hole-in-the-wall Burmese place in the Mission tonight.  When I say hole-in-the-wall, I really mean it, it’s just 10 seats along a long, narrow counter looking on to the kitchen area with three Cantonese ladies engaging in a frantic ballet of taking orders, cooking, pouring water and collecting money.  I had the fish chowder noodles (above), which consist of rice noodles in a velvety turmeric-spiced broth with shredded fish, and topped with crunchy fried lentils.  The noodles, like most of Yamo’s entrees, were only $5.25.  CASH ONLY!

I also recommend the fried rice.  They don’t serve alcohol, but if you want more than water, I suggest the fresh young coconut, which is literally a whole coconut that they cut open with a cleaver in front of you.

As far as Burmese food goes, Yamo is not as good as Mandalay in the Richmond, but it’s much closer to home and the prices can’t be beat.


3406 18th St
(between Mission St & San Carlos St)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mandalay Restaurant


Photo: Buddha of the Balada

Mandalay Restaurant
4348 California St., in the Inner Richmond
San Francisco, CA 94118
415-386-3895 OR 415-386-3896

The restaurant review marathon continues (I’m catching up after a week or two of eating).

Kris and I try to get out to Mandalay in the Richmond as much as possible, despite the slightly out-of-the-way location.  Burmese cuisine seems to synthesize some of the best elements of Chinese, Indian and South East Asian elements.  Mandalay may not have quite the buzz of “the other Burmese place,” Burma Superstar, but it’s had a solid history and continues to do a brisk business.  This is what we typically order:

Tea Leaf Salad (Lap Pat Dok)
Salad prepared with imported Burmese tea leaves, tossed with fried lentil, grounded shrimp, fried garlic, green pepper, sesame seeds, peanuts & dressing

Unlike many other places that serve tea leaf salad, Mandalay doesn’t dilute their salad with lettuce or cabbage, just tea leaves and crunchy nutty goodness.

Burmese crispy pancake with curry dipping sauce

The balada is Burma’s answer to the crisp pancake and curry combo known as “roti canai” in many other parts of SE Asia.  It’s rich stuff, a bit greasy, but really good.

Mandalay Special Noodle
Burmese fat noodle with mild coconut chicken or tofu, yellow peas, lime juice, lime leaves, onion, and fried thin noodle on the top

This stuff is amazing.  The curry and noodles are rich and fragrant, and the addition of lime leaves adds to the aroma.  This dish is similar to the Thai noodle dish khao soi, but the curry part is more of a sauce than a soup.  The menu has no indication of what it’s called in Burmese, but I haven’t found it served in any other Burmese place in the Bay Area or in New York.

For a drink pairing, I suggest the fresh young coconut juice served in a coconut.  For dessert, we sometimes order the mango sticky rice, which I guess is actually Thai, not Burmese.

While Burma may have excellent food, the political and human rights situation leaves a lot to be desired, so learn more and take action here.