After many emails from readers in search of a Burmese restaurant in their area, I have started to collect a database of all the restaurants that have come to my attention. I shall be putting this directory on the website shorty.
I would love to personally go to all the restaurants, meet the people who run them and try the food. Since it is unlikely I can trot the globe just for a Burmese meal, I have been in contact with some of the restaurateurs.
I first heard of Yoma Burmese Restaurant from some of you who have emailed me to share your positive experience of eating Burmese food there. I am delighted to chat (via email) with Thawdar Kyaw, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Sai Kyaw, in Boston, USA.
Do you and your husband both cook for the restaurant?
Yes, we are both the main cooks at YoMa.
What made you decide to go into the restaurant business?
We know Burmese food is not well know food like Chinese/Thai food but we recognized that there are a lot of authentic restaurants like Ethiopian, Nepalese, Cambodian in Boston, but no Burmese, so we decided to open Burmese restaurant. Beside we want to introduce the Burmese food to American people that our food is the best food and we both enjoy the cooking.
How would you describe the key flavours of Burmese food?
Burmese food is different, it’s unlike any other food. Here I see many customers so I hear a lot of descriptions from them, the curry cooking has a little influence from Indian, just a little like we use (masala) mix spices and some kind of lentils with vegetable soups.
Shan noodle and other Burmese salads, we use crushed peanuts like in Vietnamese cooking. But I heard a lot of customers compare with Ethiopian food, they say it is very similar, but I never tried Ethiopian food so I have no idea what their food is like.
It is hard to tell the key flavours of our food, especially the curry dishes, the aroma is different from any other food.
I’ve been looking at (or rather drooling over) your menu. For someone new to Burmese food, what top 3 must-try dishes would you recommend?
Green Mango Salad (ThaYetTheeThot)
– shredded fresh sour mango mixed with shredded cabbage, fresh shallot, grounded dried shrimp, roasted chili flake, grounded peanut, and cilantro.
Pumpkin with shrimp or tofu (ShwePhaYoneTheeHin)
– oriental sweet pumpkin cooked with jumbo shrimp, tomato, ginger, shallot, lemongrass, and cilantro.
Assorted Noodles (AaThotSone)
– vermicelli, somen noodle, wheat flour noodle, seasoning rice, fried tofu, steam bean sprout, potato, grounded peanut, roasted chili flake, fresh shallot, shredded cabbage, grounded dried shrimp, scallion, cilantro, garlic sauce and crispy rice noodle on top.
What is Yoma’s signature dish? Is it the chickpea tofu that Sai makes by hand.
Again our signature dish is the Pumpkin with shrimp or tofu and off course chickpea tofu we make by hand, and is also our family secret recipe.
My father’s family came from Moulmein and my mother’s side from Yangon. I find it very interesting that the cooking styles from the two sides are quite different. Which area of Burma do you and Sai originate from? Does it influence your cooking style?
As you know Sai is from Shan state and I am from Yangon. Except the Shan food, all the dishes influence both of our sides, we adjust a little (less oil, less salt than real Burmese cooking in Burma). We both like tomato and most of our curry dishes we add tomato.
Who in your life has influenced your cooking the most? Did you learn to cook from this person?
My mother, she is a great cook, as usual in Burma I grew up with family until I married. I learned from my mother and also all my family members who can cooked better than I do.
Do you have any fond memories from your childhood relating to eating a particular dish? How about Sai?
When I was young my favorite dish was pork stew with soy sauce, I think that dish is in your cook book.
Sai is different from me, he doesn’t like pork. When he was young he enjoyed eating goat meat or beef dishes at authentic Indian restaurants.
Yoma Burmese Restaurant
5 North Beacon Street
Allston MA 02134
Tel: +1 617 783 1372