Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ohn No Khao Swè, Oh Yes! Coconut Chicken Noodles at Burmese Kitchen

To be sure, I'm not a big fan of coconut; it calls to mind overly-sweet pastries and candies, the bad Thai food of days gone buy, and atherosclerosis (though coconut's bad rap for the latter sees to be undergoing some rehabilitation lately). But with a cold front settling in, I experienced a craving for something thick, rich, savory and warming. On top of that, I was getting envious of Andy Ricker and his boys chasing khao soi around Thailand and tweeting about it. I hadn't been to Burmese Kitchen for a while, and I knew they served what one could reasonably expect to be a good version of ohn no khao swè, the granddaddy of khao soi.

Ohn no khao swè is chicken cooked in a mixture of coconut milk, turmeric, and chicken broth served over  egg noodles and garnished with crunchy fried noodles, lemon or lime, onions and cilantro.  At Burmese Kitchen the onions, cilantro and a wedge of lime were served on  the side, and the toppings in the bowl appeared to include crunchy pieces of samusa shells. I also ordered the traditional Burmese options of a sliced boiled egg and fried split peas (50 cents each), as well as a roti for sopping up the remnants of the liquid. (When the basic soup without options is $5.95, it's easy to be a big spender.) 

Blogger/food writer Meemalee has a recipe for Ohn No Khao Swe and also a nice description of the end product which I'll quote, rather than plagiarize, because it fits Burmese Kitchen's version to a T.
"This is a wonderfully subtle, lightly curried dish, vaguely like laksa but comforting and flavoursome without whacking you in the face. Of course, you can also adjust the seasoning to taste - adding more fish sauce, squeezing more lime or sprinkling more chilli at the table."
I did, in fact, add some crushed red chili to add a little spice heat, but other than that left well enough alone, since the thick broth seemed so perfectly balanced.  The wheat noodles were also cooked just right, pleasantly springy though soft enough to absorb the goodness of the broth. The roti, which I ordered on whim, also served a yeoman's role in soaking up the last remnants of the broth.  In sum, the Coconut Noodle Soup (as it appears on the menu) at Burmese Kitchen is a dish I will go for again, coconut or no.

Where slurped: Burmese Kitchen, 452 Larkin Street, San Francisco

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