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Thursday, March 31, 2011

No. 34: Mandalay's Kaw Soi Dok

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 3:34 PM

click to enlarge Mandalay's kaw soi dok, $8. - KEVIN HENDERSON/SFOODIE
  • Kevin Henderson/SFoodie
  • Mandalay's kaw soi dok, $8.


SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

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Mandalay Restaurant, in the Inner Richmond, has become the dowager of Burmese restaurants. After 27 years, she is encrusted in glinting baubles ― Christmas decorations never taken down ― not inclined to rush, and the source for a proper tea leaf salad, unadulterated with lettuce or whatever else the kids are getting creative with these days. 

And while Mandalay's soupy, coconut-rich "Mandalay special noodles" show up on many of the tables, there's more intrigue to the kaw soi dok, listed right below. The pairing of nutty and tangy ― toasted garlic and the low, long squeeze of tamarind ― is singularly Burmese. So are the variegated crunches: brittle fried onions, watery cucumber shreds, the bean sprouts' cool bursts, all popping and crackling in syncopated rhythm over the basso continuo of an oily split-pea sauce. It's not a flashy dish, and after two bites you worry that you'll tire of it quickly. But then a cilantro leaf flashes through and you encounter another clump of fried onions, and you're soon dredging the last yellow noodles up out of the bowl with your fingertips.


Mandalay: 4348 California (at Sixth Ave.), 386-3895.

Dishes in our series so far:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño
91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu
90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha
89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar
88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline
87: Outerlands' levain bread
86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt
85: Gyro King's spinach pie
84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi
83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu
82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tarts
81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée
80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle
79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña
78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
77: Cheesecake from Zanze's
76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel
75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra
74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch
73: Hai Ky Mi Gia's duck leg noodle soup
72: Sauerbraten at Walzwerk
71: Boudin noir at Cafe Bastille
70: Blackstrap molasses gingerbread at Lotta's Bakery
69: Plow's crispy potatoes
68: Prospect's Catcher in the Rye
67: Pork banh mi from Little Vietnam Cafe
66: Nakaochi at Ippuku
65: Sidekick's chocolate spritzer
64: Farmhouse Culture's horseradish-leek sauerkraut
63: Destination Baking Co.'s challah
62: Cotogna's roasted carrots
61: Hard Knox Cafe's chicken and waffles
60: The Rebel Within from Tell Tale Preserve Co.
59: The Slanted Door's Whiskey Cocktail
58: Carnitas burrito from Taqueria San Francisco
57: Sakura mochi from Benkyodo
56: Birria at Gallardos
55: BBQ pork skewers at Fil-Am Cuisine
54: JapaCurry's katsu curry
53: Vegan flan at Gracias Madre
52: Cinderella Bakery's pelmeni
51: Locavore's maple andouille sausage
50: Lumpia from Hapa SF
49: Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck
48: Filetti pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana
47: Pupusas revueltas at La Santaneca
46: Khoresht ghaymeh at Maykadeh
45: Los Muertos at Gitane
44: Sandwich cookies from Sweet Constructions
43: Nicasio Valley Cheese Company's square
42: Nopalito's quesadilla roja
41: Croissant from Sandbox Bakery
40: Cultured's burdock kasu-zuke pickles
39: Sticky chewy chocolate ice cream at Swensen's
38: Maverick's warm Brussels sprouts with slow-cooked egg
37: Roast chicken from Limón Rotisserie
36: Seven Hills' raviolo uovo
35: Morning bun from Pinkie's Bakery

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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