Sunday, May 16, 2010
For the longest time, my only experience with Burmese food was at the Golden Triangle Restaurant in Whittier. In fact, for the longest time, it was the only game in town when it came to Burmese food. Slowly, but surely, other players became as prominent and that included Yoma in Monterey Park, so one night, I set up an outing for my dining group to check it out. Our meal of 14 dishes started with everyone ordering beverages including a yogurt drink and tamarind juice. I actually had the tamarind juice which sadly came in a can and was too sweet for my taste.
One of the first dishes that came out was their Ginger Salad. Unfortunately, I wasn't that impressed. I liked the use of the whole nuts for a crunch factor and the shredded ginger was definitely there, but overall, it just didn't have the depth of flavor and texture that was very much prevalent in Golden Triangle's Ginger Salad.
Next was the Deep Fried Beef. I wouldn't recommend this dish unless you had strong teeth and are a beef jerky lover. The meat was tough and chewy, which may not be appealing to some.
Another dish that is popular at Golden Triangle is their Tea Leaf Salad. Honestly, this dish isn't my cup of tea. It's too bitter for my liking, so I was very interested in trying Yoma's version. I didn't like Yoma's Tea Leaf Salad any better. There was also that same bitter tang that I didn't care for plus the dish had a "slimy", for lack of a better word, texture that was a turn off, which by the way, was the same issue I had with the Tea Leaf Salad at Golden Triangle.
Things started turning around when our order of Dan Pawk Shamin, a baked rice, herbs and chicken dish arrived. Golden Triangle serves a similar dish, but I preferred the one at Yoma. Unlike Golden Triangle's rice dish, Yoma's Dan Pawk Shamin wasn't dry and undercooked and the addition of the raisins added a nice pop of flavor.
Our next item was Fried Opo. You can't go wrong with anything fried and the fried opo itself wasn't greasy nor was the batter too heavy. The interesting thing about this dish for me was that opo in Filipino cooking is utilized more in stews, so having it battered and fried was definitely a different way of eating this vegetable for me.
Part of our meal included three different curry dishes: goat curry, fish curry, spicy shrimp curry. I have to say that I found all three of them to be a little too oily, but having said that, most of them had their good points. The goat meat was tender and wasn't gamy and the curry sauce it was cooked in was mild, but flavorful.
The fish curry isn't too memorable, although I remembered thinking that it would have been great if the fish was fried before being sauteed with the curry sauce.
Of the three curries, my favorite was the spicy shrimp curry. The shrimp was cooked in its shell, but when you peeled the shell away, the seasoning had steeped into the meat itself which made the shrimp a spicy kick on the palate.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Fried Spicy Bamboo Shoots. It's probably not a very complicated thing to make compared to some of the other items we've had so far, but I just enjoyed the slight chewy texture of the shoots and how well they absorbed the spices they were cooked in. I could easily just pour that over some hot steamed rice and just go to town.
Earlier in the evening, I had arrived at the restaurant to talk to the manager to get an idea of what to order and one thing she recommended was the Spicy Shan Hkat, which is basically an almost pureed blend of 7 different vegetables all cooked together. She said it's a very popular traditional Burmese dish, so of course, I had to include it in my order. Let me tell you, it was definitely one of the spicier items we got. It also had an tanginess that was interesting.
Next was the Burmese Noodle Vegetable Salad. There wasn't anything that stood out about this dish. Compared to what we've had so far, it's bland in comparison. The same could be same for the Tofu Salad, although one thing I should note is that the tofu itself had a chewy texture to it that didn't do it for me at all.
Our last savory dish of the night was their Shan Noodle with Chicken. This dish comes also with soup and a plate of pickled vegetables. It reminded me of Den Den Noodles that I've had at Chinese restaurants in the past. It was pretty good and I'd order it again.
For dessert, we were served a complimentary Coconut Jello. It was a refreshing end to the meal and was a great palate cleanser after some of the spicy dishes we had.
To end, our meal at Yoma was a mixture of hits and misses, but for the most part, I would return. There were enough things I found delicious that would encourage me to go back and sample other items from their menu plus there are were Burmese dishes listed that I didn't see on the Golden Triangle menu, which speaks for more variety and who doesn't like variety in their food?
713 E. Garvey Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91755