I just got home from an excellent Burmese meal at Pagan Restaurant in the Outer Richmond. I hadn't heard of this place until yesterday - it's been open two weeks. The restaurant is nicely decorated - warm, cozy and somewhat classy, though tables are close together. The restaurant has two separate menus - Burmese and Thai. I liked the fact that the menus are completely separate, and sometimes even include Burmese and Thai versions of the same dish. For instance, we ordered the Burmese green papaya salad, while the table next to us ordered the Thai version which looked very different.
I was there with 3 others, so we were able to try several of my favorite Burmese dishes to compare to other Burmese in town. Pagan did very well!
Tea Leaf Salad - Ingredients were nicely arranged on the serving plate and our server mixed the salad for us. Portion was a bit smaller than Larkin Express Deli, and the tea leaves were more finely chopped, but overall it was a great salad. This was the spiciest version I had tasted (plenty of chile was mixed in).
Mohinga - Their version was great, and very similar to the mohinga at Larkin Express. Thin noodles, rich broth w/ small chunks of fish, garnished with crispy fried lentils and cilantro. The taste was very fresh.
Green papaya salad - Also arranged on the serving plate and mixed at the table by our server. Shredded green papaya, onion, fried garlic, dried shrimp, peanut and a light dressing - this was also very fresh tasting, and the fried garlic and dried shrimp made it different from Thai papaya salad that I am more used to.
Pumpkin and shrimp stew - Chunks of pumpkin and perfectly cooked shrimp served in a yellow curry sauce - closer to Indian curries or Thai yellow curry. Delicious.
Burmese Style Fish Cake Curry - Very good, and different than the version at Larkin Express Deli (which is one of my favorites). The fishcakes were some of the best I've ever had - they were light and fluffy for fishcakes - and contained lots of lemongrass. The red curry sauce wasn't too spicy, with the dominating chiles balanced by acidic tamarind.
For dessert, we shared an order of Banana Shwe Kyi - a dense banana cake that we all liked. It had a great banana flavor and was not overly sweet.
Service was very good and professional. The menus were very big - over 50 items on the Burmese menu alone, and about the same on the Thai menu. The owners are Burmese but lived in Thailand for many years.
This place is going to give Burma Superstar a run for their money - I will definitely be back (despite the long trek out to 33rd Av) and I highly recommend trying this place soon!
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