Cheap Eats 2007: Myanmar

If the prospect of soup and salad doesn’t inspire you, then this bare-walled Burmese cafe might surprise you. If you were to feast on nothing but the mohingar (a fish-flavored soup spooned over noodles and spritzed with lime) or the ohno kaukswe (a terrific chicken soup thickened with coconut milk) and any of the intricately layered salads—20 in all, including a marvelous green-tea-leaf salad—you would leave happy. And full.

But then you’d miss out on the slow-cooked pork with jackfruit (an Asian vegetable that tastes something like artichoke) in a curry laced with ginger, cumin, and red chilies; shrimp bathed in a chili sauce that’s both tangy and fiery; and the stir-fry of curried pork with mango, which adds a backnote of musky sweetness to the onion-based sauce. If there’s a dish that best encapsulates a cuisine that draws from the flavors of neighboring India, China, and Thailand yet resembles nothing so much as itself, it might be the wonderful chicken with spicy cumin curry: It looks Indian, tastes vaguely Szechuan, and defies categorization.

Shweji, the best of the desserts, is just as hard to pin down. It’s like eating rice pudding, custard pie, and caramel all in one.

Open daily except Monday for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.