Burma Superstar is always packed, and the tables are basically competing in a furniture game of sardines. Not into eavesdropping? Too bad. You will learn about the neighboring table’s latest Hinge date. It’s non-negotiable. But we don’t go to this casual Richmond spot for the scene. We hit it for the Burmese food.
Burma Superstar opened in 1992, and although it wasn’t the first Burmese restaurant in San Francisco, it helped popularize Burmese food in the area. It’s now a mini empire across the Bay. The spicy, rich curries, tea leaf salad, garlic chili shrimp, and platha and dip are all incredible. Despite a few misses—with a menu of 50+ dishes you’re bound to drop the ball every now and then—this is one of our favorite spots in the city.
There’s just one problem: a lot of other people are on the same page, and waits on a weeknight can be over two hours. There are some alternatives within a few blocks, like Burma Superstar’s sister restaurant, B*Star Bar, or an equally good Burmese option, Mandalay, both of which generally have shorter waits. Burma Superstar is also a serious takeout operation, and it’s probably the best way to game the system.
Tea Leaf Salad
We’re usually opposed to ordering things described as a “party in your mouth.” But we make an exception for the tea leaf salad. It’s composed of fermented tea leaves, romaine, and dried shrimp, among other assorted ingredients, and it’s amazing. It’s crunchy and salty with a hint of sesame, plus fried garlic and fried beans.
Platha & Dip
The dip is essentially the same coconut curry sauce you’ll probably be eating later with your protein of choice. The platha is buttery, the curry is smooth and perfect. Order this.
Garlic & Chili Shrimp
The shrimp gets a crisp crust of red chili pepper, spices, and garlic. It’s not available in mild—and it shouldn’t be. This is pretty amazing and you need to eat it.
Burmese Chicken & Shrimp Casserole
We were scraping the pot of this dish. A must order.
We prefer this salad over the tea leaf salad since it’s more flavorful and refreshing. There are a ton of ingredients in this one, including noodles, tofu, fried onions, and tamarind vinaigrette dressing. Get this to start, especially if you've already tried the tea lea salad.