Our NRT gathering for May was this past Tuesday at Yoma in Allston. Yoma is a small family run Burmese restaurant. It is a very simple space without too much personality. The décor was typical of smaller ethnic restaurants consisting of wall hangings of Burmese art and pictures of the country haphazardly hung. There was one young woman waiting on all the tables so service was slow. However, we were here for the food! Since there were five of us this time we were able to try several different dishes. We started with the appetizer platter, AaJawSone, which include three different appetizers. The first was the Burmese Samusar which is a deep fried crispy pastry filled with potato, onion, cabbage, and a mixture of spices. It was similar to an Indian samosa however, the flavors were more delicate and the spices not as strong. The second appetizer was the PaeKatJaw which was a deep fried crispy tempura split chickpea pancake. This was something like a chickpea papadum. I particularly liked the texture of the crunchy split chickpeas. The last appetizer was the TofuJaw (Burmese Tofu) which was deep fried home made chickpea tofu. The Burmese make a tofu from chickpea flour which has a lighter, more delicate texture to soy tofu. All of the appetizers were served with a spicy tamarind sauce made from sour tamarind juice, red chili, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. This was a perfect tasty accompaniment to all of the appetizers. My primary complaint was that all of the appetizers were quite greasy.
We then tried two salads. The first was the LaPhetThot (Green Tea Leaf Salad) which included Burmese green tea leaf with, roasted sesame seeds, peanut, crispy peas, crunchy garlic, dried shrimp, tomato, shredded cabbage, canola oil, sliced green chili, lime juice and sliced garlic. This was a very interesting dish! It is served with all of the components separate and we mix them together. The green tea leaf is fermented and had a flavor a bit like spinach cooked in a little vinegar and salt. When all of these ingredients are mixed together you have a wonderful fresh, crunchy salad with a balance of all flavors, salty, sour, sweet, bitter and hot which reminded me of Thai dishes. The second salad we tried was the ThaYetTheeThot (Green mango salad) which consisted of Shredded fresh sour mango mixed with shredded cabbage, fresh onion, roasted chili flake, grounded peanut, and cilantro. This was a wonderful salad which, again, combined all five tastes. This one seemed a little lighter and had a fresher flavor which reminded me more of Vietnamese cooking.
We tried five entrée dishes:
1) ShwePaYonTheeHin which is Oriental sweet pumpkin cooked with jumbo shrimp, tomato, ginger, onion, lemongrass, and cilantro. The sweet pumpkin was the star of this dish and seemed to take over the dish.
2) KhaYanTheeNut which is oriental egg plant cooked with grounded peanut, onion, garlic, ginger and tomato. This was a great dish! The crunchy peanut mixture added a great flavor and texture to the delicate eggplant. This was my favorite dish.
3) ShanKhotSwe which is small pieces chicken curry cooked with tomato served on rice noodle, grounded peanut, pickle green mustard, crunchy shallot, scallion and cilantro. This was a lovely dish but the flavors were surprisingly more subtle than expected. Though, the dish describes chicken curry, curry in Burmese cooking is not as strong and complex in flavor as South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
4) PaePyarHin which is pan fried tofu cooked with tomato, potato, ginger, garlic, shallot, spice powder, green chili, tamarind juice and cilantro. This was a very nice spicy dish.
5) Beef Curry with Potato which is beef cooked with tomato, ginger, garlic, onion, potato, and spice seasoning. Again, this dish was surprisingly subtle in flavor for a curry dish. The dominant flavors were the tomato, garlic, and onion.
Based on these dishes Burmese cuisine seemed like a mixture of Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisines in ingredients and cooking methods. However, I felt the flavors and taste combinations were more subtle, delicate and fresh similar to Thai and Vietnamese foods. Overall this was a great NRT outing as we got to try both a new cuisine and a new restaurant.
5 North Beacon Street
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 783 – 1372