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Burma Love: Must-Try Burmese Food in SF

2022 Update: This post was originally written about Burma Club at the same location. The ownership group closed that concept and reopened it as a second location of their popular Burma Love restaurant. While some of the dishes may differ from the Burma Club menu, all of their concepts offer incredible Burmese food and the quality is always top-notch! We’re huge fans of Burma Love and the complimentary language in this review can also apply to that concept.

Nomsters! If you’ve been in the Bay Area for any amount of time you’ve most likely heard of one of the Burma Inc. restaurants. The most well-known is probably Burma Superstar with several locations including San Francisco, and Oakland/Alameda. But they also own and operate Burma Love right on the northern edge of the Mission District of SF, and they’ve opened another location in San Francisco’s SoMa! Located in Mint Plaza, this fun, trendy spot started off as “Burma Club,” which was a new concept from the same group. They closed that one down during the pandemic and reopened it as a Burma Love shortly after. They offer amazing Burmese food that tastes as good as it looks.

We could talk all day about how awesome their food is, but we’d rather let the dishes speak for themselves. So sit back, relax, and prepare to get hungry.

Platha & Curry Dip

To start off the evening, we got their Platha & Curry Dip, which we understand is a starter, but it was so good we could have had 3 more orders and called it a night. It’s served with a large piece of handmade buttery multi-layered bread with a side of coconut chicken (or vegetarian) curry sauce.

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Most of the times that we’ve had a dish like this, or similar ones like naan and curry in Indian cuisine, the curry is really the hero of it all with the bread mostly there to provide a means to get the curry into your mouth. With this in mind, we got a little nervous about the little bowl of curry. But to our pleasant surprise, the platha was buttery, just the right amount of crispy and doughy, and all kinds of delicious. All we needed was a little dip in the curry since we didn’t want to overpower the taste of the platha. Be sure to start your meal with this one!

Tea Leaf Salad

The Burma Inc. Restaurants may be best known for their tea leaf salad, and Burma Club surely didn’t disappoint! Voted as the “Best of the West” by Sunset Magazine, it’s packed with tons of texture, color, and bursting with flavor. It’s crafted with romaine lettuce, fried garlic chips, fried yellow split peas, coarsely chopped toasted peanuts, toasted sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, diced seeded roma tomato, diced and seeded jalapeno, shrimp powder, fish sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and their special tea leaf dressing. Did we mention it’s also gluten free? You may be thinking, “how can that many ingredients come together in a complimentary way?” You’ll just have to try it for yourself, but trust us, it’s one thing we order every single time we go!

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Superstar Shrimp

We decided on the Superstar Shrimp for our main course, and we definitely made a solid decision! Our sense is that it’s actually pretty hard to go wrong with anything on their menu. They’ve perfected this (gluten free!) dish by tossing shrimp, chili, garlic, sliced onions, and sweet soy sauce in a wok, which gets all that sweet and spicy goodness all over everything. The shrimp tastes unbelievably fresh – no rubberiness here. It does have a slight kick, though, so that’s just something to keep in mind when ordering.  

Garlic Noodles

The garlic noodles were probably our least favorite dish of the meal, but they were still great and we would definitely recommend them! We think it’s because everything we had was so flavorful that it made the noodles taste a bit plain relative to everything else. But we’d actually be really interested in trying the garlic noodles before eating anything else because we have a feeling our reaction is simply because our tastebuds were so stimulated by that point. The noodles themselves were also a bit soft for our liking, and we wish they were a bit firmer. But with all that said, they complimented the main dishes extremely well and gave us a way to balance out the more intense spices in the rest of the meal. So maybe it’s all by design, in which case they serve their purpose well.

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Pegu Club / Burmese Milk Tea

Last, but not least, we tried two of their drinks – one cocktail and one non-alcoholic drink – which were the Pegu Club and the Burmese Milk Tea! One thing we’ve been super impressed with during the several times we’ve been to Burma Club in the past is their cocktail menu. Of course, they have the typical drinks you can find anywhere, but where they really shine is their specialty cocktails, which they’ve designed themselves.

The Pegu Club is crafted with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Dry Curaçao, orange, and Angustura Bitters and garnished with a slice of lime. It’s mild, citrusy, and not too strong, so it’s the kind of drink that is very approachable. The Burmese Milk Tea is also a nice option if you’re not feeling like a cocktail. It’s sort of what you’d expect from a milk tea while not being overly sweet.

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