Burmese, Unassuming but So Inviting, at Asian Bowl

Burmese, Unassuming but So Inviting, at Asian Bowl


This is Burmese food, still a rarity in New York. For a brief moment last year, the city could claim three Burmese spots; then Rangoon Spoon closed, leaving only Together, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and the Burmese Bites food cart in Long Island City, Queens.

Like many small, immigrant-run restaurants, Asian Bowl has no public relations team. The owners, Kyaw Lin Htin and Aye Thida, did not make an announcement in February when they took over what had been a generalist Chinese takeout shop. Outside, the image on the sign — a blue-and-white porcelain bowl with chopsticks atilt — was left untouched.

Later that month, the Queens food blogger Joe DiStefano, who lives around the corner, stopped by and learned that the new owners were planning to offer sushi and Burmese food. “If you make mohinga” — a breakfast soup of fish and noodles — “I’ll come every day,” he told Mr. Kyaw Lin Htin. This may have tipped the balance: Although sushi is on the menu, it’s no longer served, and on my visits, everybody was ordering Burmese.

Ms. Aye Thida, the chef, grew up in her family’s restaurants in Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar. For mohinga, she poaches catfish, then lifts the flesh from the bones, which are returned to the pot to steep with lemongrass, garlic and ginger and leach into stock.

Some versions of the dish are light, some thick enough to drag the spoon. Here it’s in between, the broth given body by chickpeas boiled and ground into flour and rice powder brought to brown in a pan. On the side are fritters that look like chickpea brittle, to be crumbled into the soup, and lime, to squeeze for as much sunniness as you wish.



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