Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe

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.

Tofu Thoke and Tea Leaf Salad

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.)

Daw Yee Myanmar

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.

Daw Yee Myanmar

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.

Egg curry from Daw Yee for dinner.

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 Myanmar

 

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
(626) 573-8080

Nan Yang Burmese Restaurant (Rockridge)

Burmese Food @ Nan Yang (Rockridge)I must be on a Burmese kick because I had Burmese again last week while visiting Oakland.  Nan Yang Burmese is in the trendy-with-yuppies neighborhood of Rockridge.  I was afraid this would mean the restaurant wasn’t legit, but its site claims that it was established in 1981, which is comforting. The restaurant has a little patio outside and tables and a bar inside. The tables are covered with real tablecloths and the decor is pretty nice, a big change from the plastic utensils and rickety tables at the last Burmese place I ate at.

Burmese Food @ Nan Yang (Rockridge)

As an appetizer, we ordered the tea leaf salad.  It came out beautifully plated with dried fava beans, dried lentils, dried coconut, some slices of chili pepper, and a small spoonful of fermented tea leaves.  I was disappointed at how little actual tea leaf the tea leaf salad had.  It’s like ordering a Caesar salad and getting a bowl full of croutons with only three pieces of lettuce.  The crunchy bits of the salad were good, and what little tea leaves it had were tasty, but the whole thing could have used salt or something to give it a good punch.

Burmese Food @ Nan Yang (Rockridge)

Curious to see how Nan Yang’s food holds up to Jasmine Market’s, I ordered a bowl of fish noodle soup.  At $8 a pop, the small bowl it came in was jarring. The broth is the same chowder consistency, but bright yellow and seemingly heavy with cumin.  A slurp of the soup revealed the familiar spices of Burmese fish chowder and a certain lightness which must either come from lemon juice or some sort of acid.  It brightened up the usually rich and heavy stew.

The rice noodles were of the thinner variety and too soft for my liking. In addition to noodles, the dish also had slices of fish ball, and half a hard boiled egg.  While I did enjoy the fish noodle soup and it filled me up moderately, I thought that for $8, it could have been more exciting or at least a bigger portion.

Burmese Food @ Nan Yang (Rockridge)

The BF ordered garlic noodles with rice vermicelli.  It usually comes with egg noodles, but can be made vegan with rice noodles.  One reason we picked this place for dinner was because the menu was so vegetarian and vegan friendly.  I had a piece of tofu from his dish and really liked the smoky, wok qi it had.

Nan Yang Burmese (Rockridge)

For dessert, we ordered the tapioca pudding, which came out chilled and bright orange.  It usually has condensed milk or cream on top, but just ask them to leave it off for a vegan version.  The tapioca pudding was decent and not too sweet.  I couldn’t taste what the orange color added in terms of flavor, so maybe it was just for looks.

Nan Yang Burmese is a safe place to bring people who are unfamiliar with Burmese food.  The menu has something for almost everyone, even if they’re not the most adventurous eater. The interior of the restaurant is nice enough for a business lunch, and the food certainly seems legit.  Maybe I’m just not used to Bay Area prices considering I moved away years ago, but I thought it was a little more expensive than your average Chinese restaurant — but part of that might go towards the cloth tablecloths.

Nan Yang Burmese
6048 College Avenue
at Claremont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 655-3298
[map]

Jasmine Market: Fish Noodle Soup

I finally got the chance to try out the fish noodle soup at Jasmine Market tonight for dinner.  I was just going to go home and cook up some fried rice, but I thought, “Hey, the BF isn’t around, and they only have this soup at night and on weekends, so what better time to try it?”

Fish noodle soup @ Jasmine Market

The noodle soup was everything I had hoped it to be.  Thick, savory, slightly pungent with that salty fish smell, filling, warming, and best of all, cheap.  Seriously cheap.  I got a bowl, which was the perfect amount, and a can of coconut juice and it ended up being only $5.08!  I’m salivating just thinking about the soup again.

I also finally met the dad who works at the restaurant.  He was really friendly and enthusiastic about the food.  While I was eating, several regulars came in and they seemed to all be good buddies. It gave me a warm feeling, or it could just be the delicious soup.

I lamented to the dad about how I always want this soup during lunch, but it’s unavailable. According to him, it’s too much of a heatlh department hassle because of the rice noodles. They take a while to cook, and the health department wants them to put the rice noodles in the fridge if no one is eating it. Of course, that ruins the noodles’ texture.  So the family decided to just serve the soup at dinner when they have a little more time to prepare and more people order it, I assume.

My favorite dish at Jasmine Market used to be the Paaya soup, but now, I have to say it’s this one.  I’ll be dreaming about the fish noodle soup tonight.

Jasmine Market
4135 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 313-3767
[map]