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Thursday, July 24, 2008

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For my friends who reside in Richmond district, San Francisco, I have three words to say, no, make it four: You Are Spoiled. Rotten. Spoiled by an amazing array of little unpretentious joints serving ethnic cuisine from remote corners of the world. Those delicious, whimsical, filling, and enticingly cheap dishes, delivered to the table in unusually looking stoneware of their country of origin, often represent a culture we know very little about, as if a door to a magical kingdom of a far away land opens just a tad to let in an unusual aroma, an unknown flavor… Mandalay Restaurant, named after the city of Mandalay—a spiritual and cultural heart of Myanmar, serves Burmese and Mandarin cuisine in a traditionally festive setting, with original art on the walls, a small Buddha shrine, and Christmas ornaments, hanging from the ceiling for added shine. What really shines, though, is the food—inevitably fresh, made with love (oh, yes, you surely can feel it), served in gracious portions, adorned with those tiny fried fatty bits of onion or garlic—but come on, in this amounts nothing can be really harmful to your non-fattiness. Also, it’s GOOD. Mixed with one of the multi-ingredient salads, with Ong No Kaw Soi (my favorite coconut chicken noodle soup) or with Mandalay special noodles, those browned bits add a whole different dimension to the otherwise almost familiar from Chinese, Indian, or Thai cuisine dish. It is very hard to choose from the menu in one setting, so return visits to Mandalay are in your best interests. While I’m sure all deserts deserve attention here, I’m hooked on mango pudding—ochre smooth, not too sweet, served in a little ceramic leaf shaped bowl on a pond of black saucer. Yum and visually yum, too. Mandalay restaurant is located at: 4348 California Street, SF. 415-386-3895. Visit


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