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Restaurants & Bars 11

Nirvana: Burmese Fusion Food in the Castro

Melanie Wong | Jun 15, 200511:10 PM

With my renewed interest in Burmese cooking, I stopped by Nirvana two weeks ago as a step toward trying every Burmese restaurant in the area. Nirvana is owned by the son of Philip and Nancy Chu who operate Oakland's Nan Yang. It bills itself as "Burmese Fusion Food".

For my first time here, I wanted to try things that hewed closer to the Burmese originals. A scan of the menu turned up four things - samosas, chicken satay, ginger salad, and curry chicken noodles. Everything else sounded like a mishmosh of Americanized Thai and other Southeast Asian leanings.

I ordered the ginger salad (a dish that Nan Yang excels at) and the curry chicken noodles. Neither dish was done well. At least the ginger salad was somewhat palatable. When first presented, I picked up a whiff of fish sauce, but then it disappeared and was not evident in the taste. The salad was also lacking in ginger, which should be the dominant flavor. It did get good marks for crispiness even though it was tossed together before service. The salad also had good variety of ingredients, but the overall impression was bland and watered down with too much wet salad greenery.

The curry chicken had hard, overcooked rough-hewn pieces of dried-out white meat. Besides the textural problem, they had no flavor and tasted like they'd been boiled ahead of time and dumped into the curry sauce at the last minute. The chunks of roasted sweet potato were strangely rubbery. The curry sauce on the chicken was even more horrid with a gritty texture and the raw taste of madras curry powder straight out of the can. The noodles were coated with a lighter curry sauce that was prepped better though it suffered from excessive sugary sweetness.

The menu has two pages of specialty cocktails. Best to stick to those and avoid the food here.



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