The team behind Burmese bodega Toli Moli has been using its tiny Union Market food hall stall to introduce DC to the wonders of falooda (a parfait-like dessert with basil seeds, ice cream, and flavored gelatin) and mohinga (catfish noodle curry). Now, they’re hoping to give Burmese cuisine an even bigger platform with a sit-down restaurant called Thamee, meaning “daughter.” It will replace Sally’s Middle Name, which closes on H Street Northeast on March 31.
Mother-daughter duo Jocelyn Law-Yone and Simone Jacobson, along with business partner Eric Wang, plan to debut the new venture with a series of ticketed “supper club” dinners for $60 per person on April 18-21 and 25-28. The full restaurant will open May 15 with a full menu of small bites, salads, curries, noodles, and family-style platters as well as a tasting menu option.
“I’m really trying to create the joy I had all my life around a table where you share food,” chef Law-Yone says. The restaurant’s name is not only a nod to her own family but also a tip of the hat to all the unsung thamees of Burma. “They know how to feed their families well and make them happy to come to the table. All those women are very much a part of me and completely overlooked.”
Law-Yone’s “Anglo-Burmese” recipes draw from her childhood in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma. (Her family fled the country after her father, a prominent newspaper man, was briefly imprisoned following the 1962 military coup.) Law-Yone’s father was Sino-Burmese with a taste for bold, spicy flavors, while her half-British mother preferred “a very sort of Colonial version of certain dishes.” Law-Yone hopes to capture a little bit of both sides in her cooking.
Larger family-style dishes will include a whole fish stuffed with Asian citrus fruits and a “golden barbecue platter” including king prawns, chicken, pork, and beef with masala curry. A couple noodle dishes are served in clay pots, and curries combine pork with pickled mango as well as bamboo with sorrel. More famous Burmese dishes such as pickled tea leaf salad will be served alongside salads with baby squid and dandelion or comprised of yellow “tofu” made from chickpeas.
Law-Yone will also carry over some dishes from Toli Moli’s menu, including the mohinga curry (the “national dish of Burma,” according to Jacobson) and falooda. Another sweet treat combines tapioca, jellies, and pandan sweet noodles in a shallow bowl of iced coconut milk with milk bread dyed black with charcoal. “It cools your system after a big meal,” Law-Yone says.
If you’re unsure what to order, Thamee will also offer a $60-per-person prix-fixe option with three or four courses for a table to share.
On weekends, the restaurant will serve a $35 brunch set with an appetizer, entree, and bottomless drinks. Along with traditional Burmese breakfast dishes like chicken coconut curry or naan with sprouted beans, Thamee will also put a Burmese spin on American brunch staples. An egg Benedict dish will be reimagined with rice cakes and coconut biscuits, and shrimp and grits will consist of jumbo prawns and congee.
Drinks will include Burmese tea and coffee, bloody marys and mimosas (it’s DC, after all), and shandies, which Jacobson describes as “a really good example of that colonial-Burmese tension.” While Burmese beers are difficult to import, the restaurant will offer beers from places like Michigan, DC, and San Francisco with larger Burmese populations in the US.
Thamee will also open its kitchen to guest chefs for bi-monthly supper clubs on Tuesdays when the restaurant is normally closed. Jacobson says the goal is to create a launchpad for emerging chefs from the “spice diaspora” (Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America) who need a place to test out a new restaurant or food venture.
“What people of color lack the most is time and space,” Jacobson says. “When we provide this space and this time with a low bar to entry, we’re also making sure the city can continue to have diverse culinary offerings.”
Thamee. 1320 H St., NE.