Street/4th Ave., SF
hearing at Plough & Stars
Don't be fooled,
folks. Contrary to popular belief, this establishment has nothing to
do with this
man or this
band or this
play or this
movie. Nope. All it has to do with is some serious Burmese
grub. I'm gonna be honest here: I am not as well versed in Burmese
gastronomy as the rest of my esteemed council. Up until now, my knowledge
of All Things Burma could be summed up in two words: pythons and shorts.
Wait, that's Bermuda. Make that one thing. Suffice it to say that I
was anxious to try whatever may fall into my gullet.
Our journey to
the Land of Superstars began in a long line outside said establishment.
If every night is like the night we went, be prepared to wait around
a while. Sure you could make a reservation…but REALLY. As we
waited, I questioned some exiting patrons as to their favorite dish.
The only people who could muster a response muttered, "Coconut
Rice. Definitely." Sounds good, folks…but could you have
maybe picked an ENTRÉE?
Apparently the Coconut
Rice is the dish of choice, cuz by the time we got in there it was
flat OUT. All gone.
No mas. I saw it on the menu though, so it must be around occasionally.
If you're there and you see some, give it a try. Let me know how
As for the food we
DID eat: Either we made a slight blunder in
our meat picks or the sauces for a lot of the dishes are pretty
similar. Besides the meat, nothing much distinguished the scallops
chicken. Not to say they weren't good: tender with a spicy/tangy
sauce that didn't lean too far to either end. The samusas were solid.
beans were good too. Crispy. Flavorful. Not over fried. No complaints.
Then it appeared
-- ladeled into our bowls with the reverence of a religious ceremony.
I could tell from the expression on our waiter's
face that he knew what he was holding:
Samusa Soup. I'm
we (Da Judges) are writing these reviews at separate times
in separate places, I can almost guar-on-tee that Samusa Soup is
Choice. If this was the final round of the Newlywed Game and
I picked Samusa
Soup, we'd all be going to Tahiti. If we were playing Rock/Paper/Scissors/Samusa
Soup, we'd all be tied. And indestructible. You get me? Dan
says: Samusa Soup it.
All in all, the Superstar
is a low-key, high flavor
dining experience. Don your python shorts and head on over.
is the New Millennium. Shouldn't it be Myanmar Superstar?
After a false start
on our previous attempt to eat here, it was great to get in with only
a short wait, maybe 15 minutes. Both times we went on a Wednesday and
the place was packed with a wait list the size of an elephant's trunk
-- they must be doing something right. I've had a mild interest in
Burma for a while mostly through some fiction, "Burmese Days" by
George Orwell and "The Glass Palace" by Amitav Ghosh. Both
very good novels. After trying the Burmese cuisine my interest only
The number one awesome
dish is the Samusa Soup, so delicious that any description would fall
short. That said, the soup is curry
like and chock full of falafels, samusas, lentils, cabbage, and two
of potatoes (one of them mashed and fried, I believe). Every
bite is a sensation and it's worth going just for the soup. Add on
of spicy and crispy chicken -- deep fried chicken breast with a sweet/tangy/spicy
chili and garlic sauce -- and you have a great meal for under $20 for
The service was good
although it was tough to get a time estimate on the wait and we did
stare at a few empty tables for a bit
got seated. It was a great evening out in the Richmond District and
a pleasure to hang out with Guest Judge Tice whose immortal words "Oh
the technology" got me through many a rough day at work.
As Bill Clinton
once said, "It's the soup, stupid." And he couldn't be more
right when it comes to Burma Superstar. That Samusa Soup is outta sight!
Really, and I don't even like soup. Or rather, I never order soup.
But when I have it, I usually like it. I guess I view it as not a real
dish, somehow. Like they might use the broth to disguise the fact that
there's nothing there. But there's something there here. All kinds
of tasty nuggets, including falafel! Which I guess points out the crossroads-like
nature of Burma. Check a map. If you can't find it, look for Myanmar.
Anyway, this soup is Burma's Souper-star! Hahaha! Yeah! $7.50 for a
medium bowl, $9.50 for a large.
Here's a tip: Don't
order the Spicy and Crispy Chicken ($8) AND the Scallops With Garlic
on the same visit. While they're both tasty,
they're the same thing except one is chicken and one is scallops. Something
like General Cho's Chicken (or scallops). I'd say Burma's
a better version with their Burma's Pork, but this ain't bad. Neither
their Dried Fried String Beans ($7.50), with the chili sauce -- in
fact they're good. Not too spicy, either. And, the samusas ($6.50 for
opened the meal with were quite good. As good as I've had. Spicy, crispy,
steamy, potatoey, vegetably. All good.
Burma Superstar is
definitely a classier place than Burma's
House, both in decor, presentation,
culinary artistry. I think a bit pricier,
too. But as for the food, I'd say they are neck in neck except for
wicked Samusa Soup. And I never had to WAIT at Burma's House. So,
take your pick. Go get that soup, but don't turn up your nose at Burma's
House, if you're in that neck of the woods.
my recollection, we judges had never waited to be seated in 59 previous
outings. That's pretty remarkable. After nearly three years of never
waiting, I think we'd begun to feel invincible, immune to this common
obstacle of big city dining. Had we been charmed, due to our mission
as culinary public servants? It's possible. It was more likely just
dumb luck. Whatever the case, Burma Superstar put an end to it.
gone there a few Wednesdays earlier, and were met with at least a
20 minute wait. The little doorway was a claustrophobic chaos. Clipboard
with pencil dangling. People smoking impatiently out front. You get
idea. Spoiled by our 59-meal streak, we were indignant. "Do they
know who we ARE?" (Who does? Well, there's that stranger in Arizona
who bought a t-shirt.
But everyone there looks at him blankly when he wears it around the
Fud Court doesn't DO waiting lists!" we joked. That didn't turn
out to be a joke -- after a few minutes we trudged over to Giorgio's
and ate there instead, leaving a scrawled name on the infernal clipboard.
went back, to try again. This time around, we had the legendary
Forum poster (think "gnawed human arm") and Los
Angeles report cohort, Tan Dice, rolling with us. Shake 'em up, shake
'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em. But even his fortuitous presence
not part the masses, and we were faced with another wait. So we waited.
chatted outside. We watched, like hawks, for empty tables, believing
each one would be ours. Eventually, one was. This is how waiting
works. It is not so bad. And when we sat down, we were ladled out
one of the
most amazing dishes I've encountered: Samusa Soup. On our trip to
Burma's House we noted the regional collisions in Burmese cuisine,
Samusa Soup demonstrates that like no other dish. In there you've
got bits of
falafel, bits of samusas, lentils, cabbage, and some other things
I'm forgetting, all floating in an Indian/Thai-type spicy broth.
added up all the influences in this big bowl, I think it would total
it. The best part is how the waiter painstakingly divvies up the
samusa and falafel chunks in each person's bowl. It would be stressful
do it yourself.
other dishes were very good. You can't beat samusas, or samosas, however
you want to spell them. When these are on the
they're an automatic must-order for the judges, on par with potstickers
in Chinese restaurants. The string beans were excellent, although
some of the judges ranked them a notch lower than those at Burma's
As others have noted, the scallops and chicken dishes were nearly
identically sauced, but sauced well. I'd recommend going a little
with your order. We will next time. We'll go back, and we'll gladly
wait, and that's saying a lot.