I love Indian food and I adore Thai food. Clearly, it’s no surprise that Burmese food (bring kinda like a blend of Bombay and Bangkok) is one of my all-time favorite ethnic eats.

Whenever the words, “How about Burmese tonight?” are mentioned in San Francisco, there’s typically only one spot that people mention. (Not, to name names, but let’s just say it rhymes with Lurma Lupermar.) While I’m not trying to hate on that un-named joint, I’ve gotta admit it’s not my first choice when it comes to getting a bite of Burma.

Last Saturday night I dined at Mandalay, the oldest (and my personal favorite) Burmese place in the city. With Christmas decorations up all year long, a beautiful shrine to Buddhism and free wine while you wait, what’s not to love? We started out with three appetizers: samusas, roti palata, and tea-leaf salad. We moved on to an order of the Kaw Soi curry soup, pumpkin curry and basil spicy chicken. Between the free chardonnay, bottle of Singha, and overflowing plates of deliciousness, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in quite some time.

For my mom’s b’day a few years ago we dined at Pagan, a quaint, relaxed, and affordable spot that serves Thai and Burmese eats. Located on the same street as that one famous Burmese spot, Pagan serves generous helpings of authentic eats without the two-hour wait or the tourist-aprop price tag.

If you ever venture outside our seven-by-seven sanctuary down the 101, stop in Burlingame for what I believe is the best Burmese in the Bay: Mingalaba. Do not miss Mingalaba’s pan-fried okra prawns or tender Rangoon lamb. It’s so good you won’t even know you’re in the suburbs.

So next time your buddy says, “How about Burmese tonight?” think outside of the ‘star.

My Top Three Burmese Bites:

1. Mandalay: 4344 California St.; 415-386-3896

2. Mingalaba: 1213 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame; 650-343-5130

3. Pagan: 3199 Clement St.; 415-751-2598

Image courtesy of Shyla Batliwalla.