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Collaborative Post About Burmese Food

May 27, 2007

I am pleased to introduce my deeply talented and passionately palated brother-in-law’s brother, who will hereby be referred to as The Gentleman. He’s joining me for She Who Eats’ first ever Co-Post!!! Earlier this week we dined out family style at a Burmese restaurant in Silver Spring Maryland called Mandalay.

First Impression: Ambiance

The Gentleman: Spacious. Baby friendly. Evening sun coming though the front windows.

Gourmet Grrl: He’s right on all accounts. We were the second party to enter, necessity and baby required we eat early, so we were pleasantly surprised by the friendly servers who promptly laid down a sesame street themed baby area rug/debris catcher under N’s high chair. The restaurant was certainly well-spaced and bright from the sunset, but kind of felt like a 24 hour diner with no adornments or ethnic filigree. I felt a pang of disappointed upon discovering the photo on the website must have actually featured an ancient shrine in Burma, not the restaurant Mandalay.

Drinks

The Gentleman: We requested a specific white wine from their list that they actually did not have. Someone besides our server came with another bottle of white and let us try it before we committed to it. It was nice and dry, just as we had wanted.

Gourmet Grrl: Hmmm. . . Here I must diverge a bit. This was a classic case of the wine description outshining the actual beverage. I was so looking forward to promises of melon and a light, crisp finish, and when they informed us the menu had changed, I was downhearted, perhaps beyond repair. The wine we received was dry but overly thick and lingered far too long, maybe even too sweetly in the finish. The Gentleman wants to make sure I’m clear that actually the wine was okay because it turned out to be free. We’ll get to that later. Anyway the wine was overtaken by the fabulous iced milk tea!! Or, I was really thirsty because I drank it in 30 seconds. Sweet, spicy, smooth, icy and delicious. Drink Burmese tea whenever possible.

Fnord(brother of The Gentleman): The wine was too warm and not good-exclamation point- I almost sent it back.

Appetizers: Spring Rolls, Ginger Salad, Green Mango Salad

The Gentleman: These “salads” were mostly chopped white cabbage. The ginger had a very refreshing tang and bite to it. The mango, was less rewarding- heavy like a friend with too many spritzers in him leaning on you telling you about all of last summer.

Gourmet Grrl: For me, the mango was also less rewarding, mainly because I could not find a single drop of mango among any of the ridges or caves of cabbage mountain. The ginger was exactly what you would get if you shaved some ginger on top of a bunch of cabbage, but then again that’s pretty much what the description said would happen. More impressive was the salad dressing; a panoply of peanut, vinegar, spice and fish sauce breathed life into the ordinary cabbagefest. The spring rolls were basic, but really really good basic, and I can always appreciate a light, crispy, vegtastic spring roll.

Entrees: Chicken with Curry Sauce, Pork with Sauce, Beef with Some Sauce, and Thick Rice Noodles of Some Kind

The Gentleman: Our server described Burmese food as a combination, or a mixture of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisines. Our dishes fit that description fairly well. I enjoyed them all very much, but my favorite was the Curry Chicken. It was a light and pleasantly pink/orange curry with very plump chunks of dark meat chicken, along with onion and possibly something else. The beef dish had Broccoli and many other vegetable constituents and came over rice with a very basic, but tasty sauce. The sauce that the pork enjoyed, was unlike anything I’ve had before- a true combination of various Asian and south Asian influences. We shared everything. Very filling.

Gourmet Grrl: Upon hearing the description of Burmese food, those who know me know I was thrilled. Thai, Indian, and Chinese food, oh my! I concur completely with The Gentleman’s opinion of the pork dish, there are really no words in my culinary vocabulary to describe this completely unheard of combination of flavors. I was overjoyed to sample new tastes my palate had never ventured into before. It was marvelous, and sadly I only snatched a bite before the plate was cleaned by all. We passed around our dishes, and while most people appreciated the curry, I was disappointed by the lack of variety of vegetables and the banality of the coconut sauce. Beef with broccoli tasted too strongly of beef broth with extra salt, but the noodles and egg featured a pleasant kick and complex layers of spicy and salty flavor. Burmese food has tugged at my sleeve just enough to keep me wanting to return to Mandalay to order P1 through C23 and so much more on it’s extensive and informative menu.

Service:

The Gentleman: They were very nice and gave us a free bottle of wine with no explanation.

Gourmet Grrl: Ditto, and they tolerated N’s cruising every inch of the floor forty times before we got the check. Extra points for baby tolerance, even friendliness.

Mandalay: 3 hearts out of 5 for service, adventure, and very reasonable prices

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