Mandalay's original humble quarters in College Park have given way to roomier, more contemporary digs in Silver Spring. The menu of Malaysian dishes remains long and varied. Start with the Baya Gyaw Thoke fritter salad, a wonder of crunch and flavor with carrots, cabbage, crushed peanuts, and those pop-in-your-mouth fritters. Vegetarians have lots of choices, from lightly fried tofu in lush coconut-cream curry to eggplant in an onion-based curry shot with fresh cilantro.
Nanjee Thoke is fireworks in a bowl: thick rice noodles and chicken steeped in spicy red-curry sauce. Pork chunks in pickled-mango curry is a complex dish that evokes India, and chicken sautéed with bitter melon and onion is unusual yet delicious. Wine and beer are available, but purists sip YayNway Gyan, made from hand-picked green-tea leaves from the Myanmar mountains.