Welcome to Dining On A Dime a feature in which Eater surveys LA's cheap eats—often obscure, ethnic, unsung restaurants—proving that dining on a dime is alive, well, and quite tasty in this here city. Where do you want us to go next? Do share.
Since opening nearly a year ago, Delyn Chow's Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe has racked up over 6,000 likes on Facebook (in comparison, Bestia has 4,700). Proving, yet again, Burmese is the new black. The social media generation loves this stuff, and rightfully so. Food here borders cheap, and the decor borders quaint. Despite being small, people do not call Daw Yee a hole-in-a-wall. The restaurant feels cozy, but the food is loud and bold.
For lunch, a sub-$10 meal is beyond easy. Order a bowl of noodle soup, or a plate of mixed-in noodles, a glass of warm (or cold, depending on the Santa Anas) Burmese milk tea, leave intrigued and satisfied. Instead of rotating through the three prominent Burmese noodles (oh on khao soi, Shan noodle and mohinga), try the noodle in (chickpea) tofu "sauce," #8.
For dinner, the combinations are plentiful though not endless. No curated PR dinners nor El Bulli techniques are necessary to convey the flavors of Daw Yee. The Burmese taste of recombinant Thai/Indian/Chinese cuisines is already so intriguing that every dish bears a bit of exoticism, so when the dining party is small, dish selection can be rather difficult. However, the basic stance of dish sharing holds here, just as it does at almost any Asian restaurant in SGV.
For two offal lovers, try the funked goat curry (#3) with the simply braised pork offal "mix" (#4) to start, finish with the tofu thoke salad instead of the proverbial Burmese tealeaf salad. Chow's staff makes all the chickpea tofus in-house; a glutamate-jammed fermented tofu is often available. For two adventuresome eaters not aiming for guts and glory, stay simple with the egg (fried, then braised) curry (#21), the fishcake salad (#13) with house-made fishcake, and an appetizer of kimi platha, the dish that started the Chow clan's Burmese dynasty in San Gabriel Valley over 20 years ago. Either way, $25 and tax plus tips cover a table of two.
Amateur tip: Always scope the specials board before entering, or ask the congenial waitresses. Sometimes a fermented tofu thoke "salad" will be on offer, sometimes it'll be stir fried Bambi, sometimes it'll be a spicy take on mohinga, the Burmese national breakfast/lunch/dinner dish.
Pro tip: When ordering rice vermicelli soup noodle #11, ask for pig brain to be added. Yes, pig brain noodle soup will be a "thing" in 2014.
· All Dining on a Dime in the SGV Coverage [~ELA~]