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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Tue–Sun 11:00am–10:00pm

Features Live music
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

Falls Church, VA
7810 Lee Hwy #C
Falls Church, VA
(703) 289-0013
One of the big players in the area’s burgeoning Burmese scene

Myanmar is a member of the DC area’s small (but hopefully growing) cadre of Burmese restaurants. And given the turmoil that country is facing, it’s no surprise that so many asylum-seekers call the DC area home.

This phenomenon has given rise to at least three Burmese restaurants in the DC area. A bit of healthy competition is a good thing. However, it’s hard to speak concretely about the authenticity of any of them—because how authentic a meal you get here depends on just how persistent you are.

Here, as elsewhere, be prepared to be steered in the direction of the most boring dishes on the menu. Chicken with rice. Mixed vegetables. They’ll tell you to avoid anything with ngapi (the fermented shrimp paste that’s actually one of the defining elements of Burmese cuisine). Can these people honestly believe that so many culinary pilgrims would trek out here for another version of Chinese-American take-out? Don’t let them keep the good stuff from you. Be strong.

Your pushiness will be met with skepticism. “You must not understand what this is.” “You wouldn’t like it.” (But trust us—you will.)

Squash fritters are innocuous enough. The purée is delicately fried and subtlely addictive. Keep them on the side to munch on. Various salads are all interesting studies in texture; many are made with toasted beans to add a pleasant crunch. A pickled-tea-leaf salad (lahpet thouk) is a special treat, its smoky flavor floral and aromatic, with plenty of sourness there to round it out. And it, too, has an amusing mix of tenderly soft and crunchy elements.

A yellow tofu salad with chickpea has bright kaffir lime leaf and slightly sweet tamarind. But pork with sour greens is a slightly tougher dish to handle; its flavor is puckeringly strong, so much so that any pigginess you might have hoped to find is pretty elusive. Tofu with tomato sauce, mutton curry, and mango salad are all excellent. Order balachaung (hidden away with the sides) to jazz up any and all of your dishes. It’s a way of increasing the ngapi quotient in your food.

Now that you’ve proven that you can handle what their menu’s got, make sure to remain a familiar face. That way you can work your way through the menu without having to duke it out each and every time.

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