8 Spots for Burmese Tea Leaf Salad in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tea leaf salad is a pungent, crunchy bite of Burma, where some consider it the national dish. Order a tea leaf salad and you get a platter of fermented tea leaves (they look like dark, oily pesto) and an array of accompaniments that can include garlic, dried shrimp, peanuts, seeds, sliced jalapeños, cherry tomatoes, and split peas, spritzed with lemon and tossed at the table. Sometimes the leaves are cut with cabbage or lettuce—Chowhounds disagree about whether this is heresy, but they do reach a consensus on the best places in the SF Bay Area to score tea leaf salad. Here, in alphabetical order, are the tea leaf salads Chowhounds are buzzing over.

1. BROTHER’S KITCHEN
3000 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland
510-371-8786

The deep, earthy flavor of the tea leaf blend at this Oakland restaurant is "heavenly," says one Chowhound user.

2. BURMA SUPERSTAR
309 Clement Street, San Francisco
415-387-2147

4721 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
510-652-2900

1345 Park Street, Alameda
510-522-6200

This tourist-guide favorite has three locations: the original in SF’s Inner Richmond district, a branch in Alameda, and an Oakland spin-off. All three get seriously crowded, so plan accordingly.

3. BURMESE KITCHEN
452 Larkin Street, San Francisco
415-474-5569

What started as a sandwich shop with steam-table options changed into a full-fledged Burmese restaurant after lunch-goers got a taste of Chef Dennis Lin’s regional cooking. Lin uses lime juice to marinate whole tea leaves he buys directly from a farm in Burma and personally lugs back to San Francisco.

4. LITTLE YANGON
6318 Mission Street, Daly City
650-994-0111

Besides serving a fantastic version of the salad, the restaurant sells packaged tea leaves in spicy and nonspicy versions.

5. MANDALAY
4348 California Street, San Francisco
415-386-3895

The prized salad (pictured) at this Inner Richmond restaurant contains no filler: no lettuce, no cabbage, just a hefty portion of funky, fermented leaves with crunchy pulses and other accompaniments.

6. MINGALABA
1213 Burlingame Avenue, Burlingame
650-343-3228

A nice option near the San Francisco International Airport, for when you want a bite before a flight.

7. RANGOON RUBY
445 Emerson Street, Palo Alto
650-323-6543

The version at this restaurant near Stanford University includes a bit of crunchy romaine with a generous serving of fermented leaves.

8. SAPPHIRE TASTE OF BURMA
475 Sacramento Street, San Francisco
415-834-9292

Since this is mostly a lunch place for workers in San Francisco's Financial District, maybe it’s no surprise that the tea leaf salad is less pungent than some. [Note: According to its website, Sapphire is currently closed but says it plans to reopen soon.]

Discuss: Tea Leaf Salad – SF Dish of the Month (Nov 2012)
Help This BC Hound fine-tune his SF culinary escapade
Best Takeout Burmese Tea Leaf Salad in the Richmond?
Burma Superstar, Oakland

Mandalay tea leaf salad photo by Flickr member pengrin™ under Creative Commons


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