Pagan is new, and it’s terrific. It offers some of the best Burmese food in the Bay Area, says Dave MP. The owners are Burmese, but they lived in Thailand for many years. They have two menus—one Burmese, one Thai—that feature completely different versions of the same dish. You can order the Burmese green papaya salad and the Thai green papaya salad and compare. It’ll be a scientific experiment. You can be a knowledge voyager. Trust me—it’s cool.
The Burmese dishes are great. Tea leaf salad is mixed up at the table; it’s the spiciest version in town. Mochinga is thin noodles, rich broth, and small chunks of fish, garnished with crispy fried lentils and cilantro. It tastes deliciously fresh. Burmese green papaya salad has shredded papaya, onion, fried garlic, dried shrimp, and peanuts. It also tastes delightfully fresh, and the fried garlic and dried shrimp set it apart from the Thai version.
Pumpkin and shrimp stew is wonderful, with perfectly cooked shrimp. And Burmese-style fish cake curry is fantastic. The fish cakes are some of the best around—light, fluffy, and full of lemongrass. The red curry sauce is beautiful, balancing powerful chiles against sharp tamarind flavors. Banana shwe kyi is a dense banana cake with intense banana flavors.
The place is nice: warm, cozy, and somewhat classy, though the tables are a little close. Service is very good.
Pagan Restaurant [Richmond District]
3199 Clement Street (near 33rd Avenue), San Francisco