Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Slurp du Jour: Cold Burmese Noodles From Yamo

With gentrification of the Mission marching on -- a Nicaraguan restaurant of 30+ years standing was just replaced by a yuppie sandwich, sausage and beer place -- I decided, in a moment of panic, to trek to the Mission to do a bed check on an even rarer gem, the Burmese hole-in-the-wall known as Yamo. Thankfully, due perhaps to its location in the less desirable, more bombed-out northern end of the Mission, its shoebox configuration (difficult to do much with that tiny space) and its strategy of aggressive affordability, Yamo appears to be dug in and thriving.

Yamo is indeed a tiny place, with no tables and approximately 10 seats at a counter that runs front to back. Behind the counter were five(!) women involved in the prepping and cooking for about half a dozen mid-afternoon customers when I arrived. This may seem like overkill, but by dinnertime all would be frantically busy with lines of customers waiting for seats, and separate lines of customers waiting for takeout. The attraction? Tasty food, large portions and nothing over $6 on the menu.

It was a warm day in the Mission and steamy hot inside Yamo, so I abandoned my intention of checking out the current state of the house mohinga or khao swè and settled on something listed on the menu as Yamo Cold Noodles. These were described as "cold noodles mixed with house special flavor, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, and chicken." (In Burmese this would be "kyat tha khauk swe' thouk, or chicken noodle salad. 

 There were, in fact, both red onions and green onion tops; crushed peanuts, dried garlic, carrots, cilantro and a sauce that was slightly sweet and slightly spicy contributed to the "house special flavor."  A generous amount of freshly cooked chicken chunks crowned the affair.  The chicken was still hot from the pot and the "cold" noodle dish was a mixture of hot and cold, crunchy and tender textures, and sharp and mellow flavors, with a refreshing end result.

The bite for this was $6.00, tax included. I requested hot tea, and was given a green tea teabag and a tumbler of hot water, gratis. Yamo may not quite be Burmese Kitchen of Burma Superstar, but with a value-to-price ratio like this, it's no wonder they have to beat off customers with a stick.

Where slurped: Yamo, 3406 18th Street at Mission St., San Francisco

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