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Burmese @ By The Bite, San Francisco

Melanie Wong | May 20, 200710:06 AM

Finding myself downtown on Friday, I took the opportunity to try the Burmese stall in the “food dungeon” in the basement food court of the International Food Center. The Burmese menu here includes tea salad, ginger salad, mango salad, mohinga, and ono kauk swe, plus some greasy steam table foods for rice plate combos. Self-service hot tea is complimentary. Eyeing the counter, the freshness of the condiments at the prep station --- slices of jalapeno chilis, chopped onions, cut limes, cilantro, etc. --- and the jar of fried yellow peas were good signs.

For $5.25, I got a big bowl of coconut-scented, curried chicken soup with a couple big pieces of long-stewed, boneless chicken thigh and some pieces of curried potatoes and carrots fished out of the steam table tray. This was topped with shaved raw onions, chopped cilantro, two halves of hard-boiled egg, and a sprinkling of fried yellow peas. While the noodles were pretty soft, having been precooked and reheated with a swish through the boiling water, this was quite tasty. The soup tasted homemade, not quite as deep as the version at Larkin Express, but delicious in its own way with a little less garlic and coconut influence. I added a squeeze of lime and some of the chili flakes provided on the side. The soup had a grease slick of red oil floating on top that I partially skimmed off. All in all, a nice showing and good value, especially for the Financial District. I’d order this again.

Image of street-level signage and coconut chicken noodle soup -

By The Bite
In International Food Center basement
380 Bush (@ Belden)
San Francisco

Edited to add: I noticed a little caddy of what looked like homemade pickled chili peppers near the tea station. I thought they'd be good for spicing up a bowl of mohinga (fish chowder).

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