Burma Superstar is lit like the room for a police line-up, and the tables are basically competing in a furniture game of sardines (we lost). 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 Burma Superstar for the scene. We hit it for the food, which, for the most part, is pretty good. The spicy, rich curries, tea leaf salad, and garlic chili shrimp are all incredible. Despite a few misses - with a menu of 50+ dishes you’re bound to drop the ball every now and then - the spot is one of our go-tos for some hardcore ethnic eats.
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. Is the food worth two hours of drinking at The Plough as you wait? Probably not. Burma Superstar is the brand-name in the Burmese empire of SF, and has a claim to fame of being featured on the Food Network. Guess what? So does a place that’s famous for its Cap’n Crunch chicken fingers. The restaurant is an SF classic, and it does seem to be coasting a bit now that no matter what they do, the lines will be around the corner.
There are some alternatives within a few blocks, like Burma Superstar’s sister restaurant, B*Star Bar or an equally good Burmese option, Mandalay, which generally have shorter waits. Burma Superstar also does a serious takeout operation, and it’s probably the best way to game the system. Your shoddily constructed Ikea futon will be infinitely more comfortable than the Burma Superstar cluster.
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 somehow amazing. It’s crunchy and salty with a hint of sesame, plus fried garlic and fried beans.
The dip is essentially the same curry sauce you’ll be eating later with meat. The platha, a Burmese take on naan, is tasty but a little greasy. Not a must order.
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.
Whoa. This puts the OTD Chicken Hot Pot to shame. We were scraping the pot.
Is this how flour noodles always are? We eat a lot of pasta and most of itisn’t slimy. These were weirdly slippery and didn’t hold the sauce well. Underwhelmed.
Lamb is the way to go - kick-ass curry sauce, crazy tender meat.
This was a waiter rec, and we figured it’s fall, so might as well consume more squash. Wrong choice. The squash was undercooked, and while smaller pieces of pork were super tender, the bigger pieces were uncomfortably chewy. At least the sauce was fantastic. We drowned our rice in it.
These are all really good. The tofu is crispy on the outside and soft and silky in the middle.