A tiny Burmese restaurant opened just a stone’s throw away from Yoma in Monterey Park. Two Burmese restaurants within blocks of each other — was that just a coincidence?
Unlike Yoma’s dark and dank interior, Daw Yee’s is bright and colorful with vibrant seat cushions, gold-colored table ornaments hiding toothpicks, and still glossy menus. Will and I have been back several times and each time we left satisfied.
First, we ordered the one thing we always want to get at a Burmese restaurant: fermented tea leaf salad. This one came neatly plated in sections, which were mixed together table-side. There was a generous helping of fermented tea leaf, just the right amount cabbage, and some crispy soy beans to give it additional crunch. We ordered this without fish sauce so that it was vegan and I didn’t think it was missing anything.
Another one of my favorite Burmese salads is tofu salad (thoke on the menu) which is a misnomer. Instead of soy based tofu, this is finely ground chickpea flour and water molded into blocks and sliced. The slick texture makes it seem like tofu, but the bright yellow color shows that it’s not. I find that it’s also a little softer and creamier than your average tofu. This too was tossed in dressing and accompanied sliced cabbage and fresh herbs for a cold refreshing bite. (Ask for no fish-sauce for a vegan-friendly version.)
Then there’s my go-to dish that I order regardless of whether it’s breakfast time or not: mohinga (not pictured). The version at Daw Yee is decent, but not my favorite. It has the hearty rich texture I like, but I prefer it with a little more spice or funk. Maybe I’m too used to the one that comes in a styrofoam bowl at Jasmine Market in Culver City.
For dinner one night, we ventured away from our Burmese staples and tried some curries. Will ordered the vegetable curry, which had okra, eggplant, radishes, and some other vegetables in a thin curry broth. I got the egg curry, with its four deep fried hard-boiled eggs and a thick, spicy tomato sauce. It hit the spot but was so filling that I could only eat two eggs before getting full.
We also ordered the chickpea fritters as an appetizer. If you liked crunchy, deep-fried things (and who doesn’t?), this is the way to go. These little disks of chickpea had a satisfying crunch on the outside while still being gooey and hot on the inside — a Burmese latke.
Daw Yee is a great addition to the neighborhood. The food has been consistently good even if the service is sometimes awkward or strange. The hot loose-leaf tea is also surprisingly good, almost like a fresh young pu-erh.
Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe
111 N Rural Dr
Monterey Park, CA 91755