Burma Love storefront
Burma Love, a Burmese restaurant, is located at 211 Valencia St. Photo by Junyao Yang.

Burma Love has been around forever and a day, it seems, yet I’m just now trying it for the first time. Sister to Burma Superstar, that old stalwart in the Richmond, Burma Love is buzzy, stylish and loud. Very loud. It serves up standards as you’d expect, and does them well. I visited with a friend and her dad and, though the cuisine was new to both of them, they really enjoyed the food.

A pink cocktail sitting on a napkin next to a bottle of beer.
Peacock’s Dream cocktail.

Burma Love has a roomy bar where you can also eat dinner, with a nice selection of cocktails, beer and wine.  I tried the Peacock’s Dream: Toki whiskey, egg white, lemon, beet syrup, amaro ciociaro, rose petals — fragrantly tasty!

Of course, we had to have the famous fermented tea leaf salad, laphet thoke. It comes with all the disparate elements piled on a plate, waiting to be tossed by your server, table-side.

The fermented tea-leaf paste and lemon juice make a tart, slightly funky dressing, with an addicting crunch from the fresh lettuce, fried garlic, beans, tomatoes and sesame seeds. I can never not order this in a Burmese restaurant, and you shouldn’t pass it up, either. And, while it wasn’t necessarily the very best version of this dish I’ve ever had, it was still fresh and delicious.  

A plate of food on a wooden table.
Laphet thoke, fermented tea leaf salad.
A white plate with a salad on it.
Tea leaf salad.

We also got chicken samusas with a spicy, tangy dipping sauce.

Fried dumplings with dipping sauce on a plate.

Very good, though I couldn’t discern any chicken in them. I’d try them with lamb next time, but they’re a warm and comforting starter.

Next, the coconut chicken noodle soup, another Burmese standard.

A bowl of soup and a bowl of eggs on a table.
Coconut chicken noodle soup.

Best thing on the table all night. The broth was super rich, thick, and creamy, made with tender chicken thighs, coconut milk, onion, garlic, and turmeric. Accoutrements were cilantro, onion, hard-boiled eggs, chili flakes, crispy rice chips and lemon to garnish as you pleased. Extremely homey, I could slurp this all day.

We also got the tender pea shoots with wine and garlic, and topped with fried garlic.

A plate of greens on a table next to a bowl of noodles.
Garlic tender pea shoots

While they were very flavorful, they were actually not tender, but super chewy instead. We did not finish these.

A plate of asian food with a fork on it.
Garlic noodles with chicken.

My friend’s father chose the garlic noodles with chicken, something I don’t associate with Burmese food, and the menu actually called it a Chinese dish.

Sadly, we all found them bland, and the chicken a bit dry. Not a dish to repeat.

Finally, we split the pork belly with mustard greens, chili and ginger.

A plate of chicken and vegetables on a table.
Pork belly.

The belly was lovely — tender and fatty, just the way I like it — and the dish brought the only real heat to our meal. Overall, a hearty, homey dish, although the mustard greens weren’t as prominent as I would have liked.

There’s so much more to try here, with many vegetarian options, such as three other classic Burmese salads: The ginger, rainbow and Inle tomato salads; the yellow bean tofu, a veggie samusa soup and, on the carnivore side, a plethora of curries, chicken and pork dishes, whole fried snapper, a variety of shrimp preparations, noodle and rice dishes, and a black rice pudding I’m dying to try. 

Service was incredibly warm, attentive and friendly, by a host of young folk. The noise level is a real thing, especially for us oldsters, but this was a really good meal and I’d go back anytime, and often. 

So, is Burma Love more authentic than Yamo? It’s not really fair to compare, as Yamo is a hole-in-the-wall run by a few lovely grannies cooking their hearts out in a microscopic, steamy kitchen. Burma Love is sleek and young, but someone in that kitchen knows what they’re doing, and both have a place in my heart and stomach. Spread the love around, and try them both.

Burma Love
211 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA  94110

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  1. Check the menu before you go, folks. I went last month and was shocked by how expensive it was.

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  2. To us, Burma Super star was never considered an authentic Burmese food. Its taste is more for the westerners palette. The Burmese people do not eat Lapel Thoke with lettuce. If they do eat with veggie, it is cabbage which made sense because the lettuce contained too much liquid and it will made the beans soggy and will not be crunchy anymore. And yes, the garlic noodles is created by the Chinese settlers in Burma. Other than the Lapet & Coconut noodle that the writer posted, the other two dishes are more like Chinese. You will find the stir fry pea shoot practically in any Chinese restaurant. Any so-called Burmese restaurant menu that had dishes like Mango Chicken or Chili Beef is not consider authentic al all.

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  3. We’d been going to the Richmond Burma Superstar since before it was spruced up by the current ownership group in the late 90s. It took several years after construction began on Valencia for Burma Love to open up.

    Sadly, my favorite dish from up on the hill. Tofu Kabat, a richly spicy Burmese curry with coconut rice was not available at the location 3 blocks from our home. They had beef kabat, but refuse to substitute tofu for beef.

    The tea leaf salad, of course, is sublimely divine.

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