Burma Superstar started following me on Twitter today, so I figured this was the right time to write about my lunch there. When I spread the word about my trip to San Francisco, this is one spot everybody recommended, so it was high on my (3-page-long) list of restaurants to try.
If you’re visiting like I was, you’re going to think twice when you realize how far it is from the center city. Do not let that sway you. Get on a Sutter Street bus like the #2 or #3 and be patient. You’ll get off just at the start of Clement Street in a neighborhood called Inner Richmond. The area is filled with Asian restaurants of all sorts. Frankly, it’s awesome. Next, don’t be swayed by lines to get into Burma Superstar — it’s worth a wait, especially if you’ve traveled a long way.
Next, do not be embarrassed about ordering all of the dishes I tell you about. Yes, these are what the tourists order, but for good reason. Just trust me. If you live nearby or show up with a crowd, you can sample everything else. I told the awesome waiter I was from out of town so he’d forgive me for ordering the most predictable dishes. Do not, I repeat, do not skip this Vegetarian Samusa Soup. I think a samusa is similar in concept to an Indian samosa, maybe more like a dumpling, and they’re softened in the rich and satisfying soup. It’s described as containing cabbage and onions, but none of that does the soup justice. It’s heavenly and comforting.
Then, just like everybody else in the restaurant, go for the Tea Leaf Salad. The waiter explains the dish and tosses it for you tableside. The balance of textures is exquisite, but it’s the tea mixture that brings all the flavor — it sort of resembles a pile of tea leaves leftover from making a big pot of tea from loose leaves. I know that doesn’t sound amazing, but you’ll just have to see for yourself. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tried.
I have a feeling you can’t go wrong with any of the main dishes and curries, so take a wild guess when ordering these. I went for the Burmese Style Curry with Shrimp (paired with the perfect Coconut Rice). Just when I thought the meal couldn’t get any better, it did. The curry is spicy but not overpowering. The shrimp is splendidly tender. And the overall flavor is rich and beautiful. The only thing I can sort of compare this to is a dish I eat from the equally amazing Sripraphai in Queens. (Call me if you want to get a trip together because I haven’t been there in a while.) In retrospect, one of the most interesting things about my fantastic meal at Burma Superstar is that there was no meat. I’ll soon be writing about endless pork tortas and a 7-course all-beef Vietnamese dinner, but this meal shined on its own with just a little shrimp and veggies.
When you’re done, don’t forget to check out the cool fish pet store about a block away on Clement Street, but photos aren’t allowed (oops!).
If you’re feeling really ambitious, take a stroll up the hills — there were great views by this university.
And if you’re a total lunatic like me and my girlfriend, keep walking all the way to Haight Street to visit Amoeba Music. Why the heck don’t we have a CD store like this in NYC anymore?! I heart SF.
I'm Justin Schwartz, an Executive Cookbook Editor for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. My opinions are my own and have nothing to do with my employer. I'm an occasional food writer and wannabe photographer, and this blog is about what I'm up to these days. I'm the author of Veg Out Vegetarian Guide to New York City and The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook. You can email me at justin at justinschwartz.com. I'm also on Instagram.
A lot of the books I write about are ones I've edited, so my opinions are very biased. And if I didn't work on the book, someone probably gave it to me for free. So keep that in mind before you take my word for it. Sometimes I just like to give a shout-out to my friends.