Eleven Chowhound got together for lunch yesterday at this little place in Falls Church just inside the beltway. This is probably the fourth time our group has met here, so l think we like it.
We ordered a tremendous variety of dishes. The menu is quite deep here, and just about everything we had showed the breadth of the cooking. Nothing fancy about the plating or preparation; this food looks and tastes like good home cookin'. If your home is in Rangoon, that is.
Vegetable Tamarind Soup
Whole roast fish
Yellow Tofu Salad
Gram Fritter Salad
Shrimp and Bean Sprout Salad
Chicken with Pickled Mustard Leaf
Pork with Fresh Mango
and as a condiment, Ngapi Gyaw, called Balachung on the menu, listed under 'SIdes.'
Ok so we overordered, it was all in the interest of science, right?
I doubt any true Burmese meal is complete without the Ngapi Gyaw, which is admittedly an acquired taste: dried shrimp, toasted garlic chips, and chili flakes. This is a homemade condiment, not cheap at $5.50 or so, and yesterday's batch was the freshest and best I 've had.
The only item I would hesitate to order again was the soup. A fairly plain vegetable soup with a slight tang from the tamarind, but nothing strong. Add the Ngapi Gyaw to it, and it's terrific.
The GInger Salad remains for me the definitive version and a real MUST ORDER (unless you go for the pickled green tea leaf salad). One of my top five things to eat in the Washington area. That and a bowl of rice is the perfect meal and sublimely cheap too.
The other new stuff we tried: Okra Salad, (nice steamed okra, similar but less flavorful than some of their other salads), Chicken with pickled Mustard Leaf (Beware, a VERY potent dish, only for pickle and sour fans.), Yellow Tofu Salad (homemade tofu which seemed like a cross between tofu and potato. Great texture, what a discovery!) Pumpkin Curry (loved this dish, wonderful pumpkin flavor without being sweet), and the Spicy Potato (quite spicy, charred chilis, excellent flavor).
Tw standbys were made differently this time around: a strong curry flavor to the gram fritter salad plus a sweet red chili sauce on top of the shrimp and bean sprout salad. Next time, I will ask if they can leave off the red sauce.
By the way, if you are interest in trying unique dishes, the gram fritter salad includes crunchy raw veggies, fried grain patties, and a chick pea gravy! This is the only salad and gravy combo dish I've ever eaten.
I'm impressed by the way that every dish we had has such unique flavors. Now I need a nap.