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Restaurants & Bars 2

Innya Lake in San Bruno

Mark P | Jan 25, 200809:12 AM

Some friends and I recently went to Innya Lake in San Bruno.

Before going, I saw chowhound had listed this place as a "downhill alert."
Yet, I read all the posts that mentioned it from the last two years, and there was only one negative report. Although admittedly that one report it the most detailed of the mentions, it also based on only one dish.
I figured I should report my experience to the community to help clarify the record.

Innya Lake served us satisfying Burmese food. Each dish was a nice twist on the traditional version of the dish. Often, S observed, such twists are bad because small changes to standards usually harm the dish (otherwise all chefs would make the change); these dishes, however, made these tweaks successfully.

We started with a ginger salad. This was complex and funky: a small mound of julienned ginger, surrounded by many ground spices, seeds, nuts, and items we couldn't identify. We couldn't identify two-thirds of the ingredients! We got the sesame seeds, peanuts, and chile pepper, but there was so much there that added other undertones, I'm almost thinking I shouldn't have mentioned those items because it may be misleading about the taste of the dish. With no green vegetables, the salad was entirely unadulterated. The ginger, pepper, and spices were strong, assertive, and interesting. Although weird, we were glad we tried it.

Next came the samusas: tiny potato-filled triangles, very hot in the center. (I burned my mouth.) Simple and plain, yet nevertheless not boring, we called them satisfying.

The curried chicken and potatoes were pretty good. Served in a brown sauce with a layer of oil, we liked the moist chicken (mostly thigh and leg meat, I think). I was less enthused by the potatoes because they soaked up too much oil.

The fried string beans were thick, crispy, and tossed with onions and garlic, both fried to nearly the point of blackness. Judging by the spiciness, there must've been chile peppers, but I didn't spot them.

Our final item was palada, also known as thousand layer bread. In short, it's a piece of fried bread made of many individual layers stacked high. I'm not sure I agree with others' descriptions: "like a scallion cake without the scallions," or "like a dish at Straits cafe" ("kueh lapis"?). In any case, we liked it.

Service was awkward. While we talked about what to order, the waitress often came around and hovered. Yet, we had trouble later getting the check.

The decor is typical nondescript Chinese restaurant.

Interestingly, the wait staff spoke Cantonese.

The total was $13/person including tax and tip.

In short, every dish I tried, I'd be willing and happy to order again.

We didn't manage to try the Burmese eggplant, which some people on this board seem to like.

The review part of this post is mirrored elsewhere on the web:

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