NOTE TO BLOG VISITORS - I am not currently doing noodle restaurant visit reports, but focusing on diving more deeply into noodle research, so this blog will be updated less frequently. For the latest Asian noodle news, and features from external sources, follow

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ohn No Khao Swè Round: Hitting The Midpoint at Mandalay


A few months back I wrapped up a survey of all eight Burmese mohingas available in San Francisco, just because they were there, and it occurred to me recently that I might as well do the same with the Burmese noodle dish Ohn No Khao Swè. After all, I had already randomly covered the dish at three of the eight Burmeses restaurants in town*, and certainly wasn't averse to going for five more.

While mohinga is considered Burma's national dish, Ohn No Khao Swè, the curried coconut chicken noodle dish. might be considered the people's choice. It's certainly grown on me, having overcome my distaste for coconut (largely due to this very dish), so I resumed my quest today at Mandalay.

Like Mandalay's mohinga, the restaurant's ohn no khao swè comes short on adornment, but long on flavor depth.  It's placid golden surface is broken only by a topknot of fried shallots; no chickpea fritters or crunchy samusa shell shards. It's literally deep, too, as Mandalay seems to favor smaller circumference but deeper bowls. The chicken and boiled egg slices (which came first?) lurked beneath the surface of the broth, supported by a modest bed of wheat noodles (light on the noodles seems to be another Mandalay characteristic).

My ohn no khao swe (it's called Ong No Kaw Soi on Mandalay's menu, but I'm sticking with the first transliteration I used in this blog) was accompanied by a condiment caddy with lemon wedges and cilantro. There appeared to be a whole lemon's worth of slices, and a veritable garden of cilantro. The broth, however, came already pleasantly tart and in need of only a couple of token squeezes. I used the cilantro liberally, however, and added some pepper flakes from a shaker to kick up the heat.

While a satisfying lunch, on balance I'm not sure Mandalay's ohn no khao swè will stack up against the competition as well as their mohinga.  The flavor depth was admirable, but this type of soup cries out for a heartier complement of noodles and some textural add-ins such as chickpea fritters or other crunchies.

Four down, four to go!

*See previous reports for Burmese Kitchen, Sapphire Asian Cuisine, and Li'l Burma.

Where slurped: Mandalay, 4344 California St. at 6th Ave., San Francisco

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