burma superstar — appropriately named


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.

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27 Responses to burma superstar — appropriately named

  1. Tea says:

    Yay, another convert! We call it the "crack restaurant." Not sure what they put in there, but I crave it something fierce. Glad you had a good time!

  2. Mary says:

    If ever you tire of editing cook books you're a natural for doing restaurant reviews. I love to visit here.

  3. Joanna says:

    You take amazing photographs! I look forward to future blogs. :)

  4. Jenn says:

    Another place to add to my SF foods to try. Nice!!!I LOVE amoeba music. I live really close to their LA store. I go there all the time. I bought a bunch of records on my last trip there.

  5. Manggy says:

    I'm glad you liked it!But, you walked from Inner Richmond to Haight? That's hardcore! :P

  6. Babli says:

    I liked your blog very much.Its very nice and the photos looks marvellous.You are welcome in my blogs.

  7. Eliana says:

    Sounds super yummy. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Justin says:

    tea: yeah, maybe there is crack in the food because i'm addictedmary: thanks. i have done some restaurant reviewing in the past. see my bio. it's fun, but it's hard to make a living doing that.joanna: thanks so muchjenn: i guarantee you'll love this place. and why the heck can't they open an amoeba here. all of our record stores have shut down in nyc.manggy: and that's only the half of it. i was such a tourist, taking photos everywhere I went. it was worth it.babli: thank youeliana: you're welcome

  9. That restaurant has some amazing food!

  10. Elra says:

    I like the name already. Burmese food is a new thing in my neighborhood, we have one open here in Palo Alto. It's okay, but not too bad.

  11. pinkstripes says:

    Ooh…sounds delicious. I'll have to go there when I'm in SF in September.

  12. stephchows says:

    Sounds like an amazing meal! I'll mark it down for next time I go visit my friend who lives out that way :)

  13. Teanna says:

    Wow this restaurant sounds amazing! I'm dying to get out to SF to check out all of the wonderful food options! And some of the best restaurants I have ever been to have been far away from it all, so I wouldn't mind the trip out of the center of the city!

  14. Justin says:

    peachkins: are you speaking from experience?elra: burmese is pretty under-tapped here in NYC. we've got two restaurants that are decent in NYC, but not as good as Superstarpinkstripes: definitely!stephchows: that goes for you too…teanna: that's good. it's a shame when people aren't willing to travel to get good food

  15. Pandalicious says:

    never had burmese food, but the soup does look good! did you get a chance to go to Taiwan Restaurant?

  16. katie says:

    i do like burma super star a lot. I like their shrimp pumpkin curry (kabocha). Samusa soup is also outstanding. There is an ongoing comparison between burma and mandalay restaruant, which is associated with more authentic burmese rather than food of the general region. each have their strong suits.they also have "b-star bar" around the corner – an offshot of its originator. They focus on a little bit more fusion and drinks. the line is not as INSANE.

  17. Helene says:

    I wish I knew about this place when I visited SF. I don't mind the long bus drive when it's for good food. You did an amazing review :)

  18. baconista says:

    Ugh! I can't wait till I go back to SF!!What are the 2 places in NY you like? I've been to one on 7th that is decent.

  19. Justin says:

    pandalicious: no, I didn't get to try out that place… next timekatie: next time I'll have to check out mandalay. I did see a sign for the other superstar place, but I'll have to add that to the list for next time toohelene: thanks… this is definitely a good spot to try out next timebaconista: i believe cafe mingala uptown at 2nd and 73rd is the original, and the one you're talking about on 7th is the newer, sister restaurant. i could be wrong about that though. i haven't tried the downtown one, but the uptown one is good, though I haven't been in about 5 years.

  20. Bridgett says:

    Your photos are gorgeous and I love all your descriptions. I will have to give this place a try when I go back into the city one of these weekends.

  21. girlichef says:

    I haven't been there yet, but I'm pretty sure that I heart SF, too! I don't know how you couldn't try it after that review! Gorgeous shot of the sky & church??/University Bldg?? !

  22. Justin says:

    bridgett: if you're saying that you live nearby SF, then please do give it a try!girlichef: i think it was part of a university at the top of the hill. the school was very spread out though, with many buildings. very nice for photographing.

  23. Jacque says:

    Sounds like a fabulous trip and so much good food. Lucky you!I lived in the Bay area for my first three years out of college. I surely do miss it. There's so much to do and see… and eat :)P.S. your 4th of July cupcakes a few posts down are colorful and sound delish. I just recently got that cookbook and I may have to start with those cupcakes.

  24. This really sounds amazing. I'll put up a link to this on my FB page for my friends living in the SF area. :)

  25. Phyllis says:

    Burmese food – way cool. Haven't tried it before but it looks fascinating! And must have been really good to not even miss the meat. Putting it on my SF list – thanks!

  26. Justin says:

    jacque: thanks for visiting. you should definitely try that recipemurasaki: well, everyone in SF probably knows about it already, because the place is very crowdedphyllis: burmese is definitely an under-tapped cuisine, but once you try this place, you'll be hooked

  27. Jescel says:

    I am going to add this to my must-visit places.. I've never been to SF, but when I do, I'll make sure to try this restaurant. Your photos and descriptions made me drool. Awesome.

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