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B Star Bar

Burma Superstar’s Sibling Shines

Opened in 2007 just down the street from its sibling restaurant, the ever-popular Burma Superstar, B Star Bar brings a more casual, contemporary sensibility in both food and design to Clement Street. This is the place to go when you’re looking for a good, low-key meal and a friendly atmosphere to catch up with a few friends.

Having such a successful restaurant as its sister can be a catch 22. There’s an immediate willingness — some might call it eagerness — to try the new spot, but that inevitably leads to high expectations for the same consistent experience that earned Burma Superstar some of the longest lines in town right off the bat. Generally speaking though, B Star comes through. It’s like a Californified, street version of its older sibling.

Whereas Burma is more traditional in nature, B Star manifests a more hipster approach. Walk in, and the bright, cheerful décor with lemon yellow walls, wood plank floor, globe-shaped light fixtures, and high ceilings give off a light, airy feel. But if it’s nice enough out, the heat lamp-equipped patio is the spot of choice.

If you weren’t tipped off already, the drink menu — boasting soju cocktails, infused soju, and wine cocktails in addition to beer and wine — will be another clue that this is more than just Burma Superstar 2.0. We stuck with wine, but next time, it’s all about the Sriracha-infused soju, or maybe the gingery “I Know Kung Fu” soju cocktail.

Burma Superstar favorites like the samusa soup ($6.75-$13.25) and tea leaf salad ($8.75) carry over onto B Star’s menu, but beyond that, B Star experiments with more of a fusion, bistro-style approach that spans the globe. Think mango salsa tacos, Thai salmon green curry pot pie, and an assortment of “Sammies” (aka sandwiches) like braised pork or a soft-shell crab po’ boy, served with salt-and-pepper fries and house-made pickles.

We started with the edamame hummus crostini ($4.50), which was exactly as it sounded — an Asian twist on a Mediterranean dish featuring soybeans instead of garbanzos over toasted baguette. The grilled calamari ($8) was the night’s favorite: charred squid served salad-style with tomatoes, edamame, and peanuts with a refreshing touch of basil. And for good measure, we opted for the tea leaf salad, which unlike at Burma Superstar came to the table already mixed.

With nearly 20 mains to choose from, narrowing down the selection was a task. While the meatball jook ($8.50) seemed comforting for your typical Inner Richmond foggy night and the Prather Ranch braised lamb curry ($14.50) sounded intriguingly decadent, we opted for the pan roasted sea bass ($20) and the yellow bean veg ragu ($9.50). Both were good and nicely portioned; the bass came with a mix of asparagus, shitake and oyster mushrooms, and edamame, and the ragu was packed with lentils, with almonds for extra crunch.

Following the same lead as the rest of the menu, dessert features pan-Asian ingredients prepared with a Western touch. We sampled the black rice pudding with coconut ice cream and strawberries and weren’t disappointed. Next visit, we’ll try the green tea gelato topped with adzuki beans and strawberries.

The best way to approach B Star Bar is by not thinking about Burma Superstar. These two restaurants, while obviously related, serve different purposes, and both successfully so. While B Star shines at night, one of the best ways to enjoy it is over brunch on the patio.

B Star Bar
127 Clement Street (@ 2nd Avenue)
San Francisco, CA 94118

Richmond District