Archive for the ‘Burmese’ Category

First Course: Dagon delivers taste of Burma

November 20th, 2013

dagon salad

The green tea salad is beautifully arranged, with a center of chopped lettuce surrounded by peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, green and yellow split peas, fried garlic, tomatoes and sunflower seeds, topped with a paste made of young green tea leaves. It's all mixed together at the table. To have it the Burmese way, they ask if you want chili pepper and fish sauce on it.Nadine Kam photos

Here are more photos of dishes served at Dagon Burmese restaurant to go along with my column in the paper today.

Among my favorite dishes was the green tea salad, which my guest Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, executive director of Pacific Gateway Center, who hails from Burma, colorfully described as the Red Bull of her university days. Due to the tea's caffeine content, she said, "This is what did it for us and kept us going for exams.”

The PGC's Lemongrass Cafe, an incubator for immigrant restaurauteurs, was a long-time home to a Burmese pop-up by Aye Aye Maw, where many a local foodie was introduced to the national dish moh hinga, a fish-noodle soup that is a another favorite of mine. The rice noodle soup is thickened with fried rice powder that gives it a lot of flavor and body, a comfort food along the lines of jook and ramen.

One other must have is the coconut chicken noodle soup, topped with crispy won ton strips. The Burmese complain that it isn't as sour and spicy as they prefer, and truthfully, owner Khun Sai said he studied American preferences before opening his first restaurant. We tend to like our dishes more savory, fatty and sweet. But, lemons and chili pepper flakes, chili sauce and a Burmese chili-sesame paste are available for those who need to make any adjustments.

If you want an idea of what Burmese cuisine is like before you go, start by pulling out a map. Burma is bordered by India, Laos, Thailand and China, and the influences are all on the menu, from coconut to masala curries and stir-fries. That's quite a broad spectrum, and the amalgamation makes Burmese cuisine quite unique.
Dagon is at 2671 S. King St. in Moiliili, near Spices, across from Sushi King. Call 947-0088
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays to Mondays.

dagon chick noodle

Savory coconut milk-chicken noodle soup, finished with won ton crisps, cilantro and slices of hard-boiled egg. Love this. In Burma, this is a portion for one, like ramen, but the richness of the coconut milk makes it a share dish for most locals. Try it first. You may find you can eat the whole bowl.

dagon moh hinga

Moh hinga, a rice noodle soup with fish broth, is Burma's national dish. It's finished with crispy fried split peas that add texture when it's all stirred together.

dagon paste

A chili-sesame seed paste adds heat for those who want more spice in their dishes, the Burmese way. (more…)

'Eden Eats' Burmese at Lemongrass Cafe

March 16th, 2012

pgcNadine Kam photos
Pacific Gateway Center executive director Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, left, and chef Aye Aye Maw, right, welcomed Eden Grinshpan, host of the Cooking Channel program “Eden Eats” to PGC's Lemongrass Cafe March 15 for a taping of a Honolulu episode of the show.

I admit to selective hearing sometimes. Invited to a popup dinner at Pacific Gateway Center's Lemongrass Café on March 15, I heard mainly "Burmese food," and maybe something to do with the Cooking Channel.

Dinner will start at 6, I was told. Two-and-a-half hours later ...

Beyond simply enjoying a cuisine I'd never tried before, the event was made-for-television, meaning a lot of delays and waiting. I felt like an actress, prepared to smile, perk up, animate and be excited on cue. Not one to emote, that's not easy for me. Put it this way: When my Kailua house was robbed of jewelry, all the contents of my dressers strewn throughout the bedroom, I overheard the police officers talking outside, saying they didn't believe me because I was too calm and rational. What was I supposed to do, cry, be hysterical? That's not me.

Le Cordon Bleu-schooled Eden prepares to dig into the mohinga, a breakfast staple in Myanmar.

The crew of "Eden Eats," hosted by Eden Grinshpan, was delayed getting to the restaurant after filming malassada action at Agnes' Portuguese Bake Shop in Kailua. By about 7:30 p.m., other diners were allowed to start eating, but not the head table, where I was sitting and most of the filming would take place. Sitting next to me, Makana Shook said she was prepared to eat my arm. I was actually grateful for the delay because I had eaten lunch at Chun Wah Kam, and was still sated eight-and-a-half hours later.

The other diners paid for their earlier start, though, when at 10 p.m., those who wanted to leave were asked to stay for the sake of keeping the restaurant filled from beginning to end. We were released at about 10:30 p.m., easily a 12- to 14-hour day for most of the guests. People may have been tired or nervous because there were at least three incidents of tipped glasses over the course of the evening, though none while cameras were rolling.

The premise of the show is to peek into the sometimes strange world and kitchens of immigrants across the nation rebuilding their lives in the United States, recreating their cultures through food. It's a great concept, and you can get a taste of it at director Samantha Schutz's projects site. That is, if you don't mind a few bloody bits. True foodies wouldn't flinch.

The Honolulu show will air sometime in August.

The TV crew had the option of Ethiopian fare or Burmese, but Aye Aye Maw's Burmese cooking won the day. Her menu of ginger salad, shrimp fritters, cucumber salad, mohinga—a fish sauce and rice noodle soup that is the national dish of Burma—and tapioca dessert did not disappoint. (Read more in my column coming up March 21.) After a month of popups, she'll begin offering Burmese meals every Sunday from 6 p.m., at a very reasonable $20 per person.

"It's not for profit at all," she said. "I just want people to know what is Burmese food."

pgcmohingaMohinga, a thick rice noodle soup that is the national dish of Myanmar, is brought before the camera.

pgccucCucumber salad.

pgcshrimpShrimp fritters accompanied by an herb-filled tamarind-fish sauce and Burmese black tea, for sipping, not dipping. Unbelievably yummy!

pgccamerasCameras roll as Eden speaks with Dr. Thein, who also hails from Burma, and the chef.

pgcchipsPotato chips and shrimp chips kept hungry diners fueled before dinner started. Diners who said they never eat potato chips, finished off every bowl offered.

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