Mandalay: Burmese delights on Edgeware Road

We've always been more enthralled by the obscure food scene.  Modern American and European fare has never really excited us.  We would much rather try out places like St. John serving Ox Heart and pig's trotters, or the obscure ethnic varieties like Mongolian or Eritrean food.  On a recent such trip, we went to Mandalay, a Burmese restaurant in Edgeware.  Neither of us had ever tried Burmese food, so we didn't know what to expect.  Having tried all kinds of Indian food, as well as Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese, and based on geography, we assumed it would be something spanning those cuisines.  While it is to a degree, a number of the things we tried were extremely different than anything we ever had before.
Mandalay is set in a rather small place on Edgeware Road, and definitely has a number of loyal followers, evidenced by the sold out dining room on a Wednesday night.  The space is pretty simple but a bit run down.  The men's room is actually out back in a separate building.  But don't let these things deter you, the food is....excellent.  We started with the A-Kyaw or Fritters.  They serve a variety of different types, and we had a selection including Calabash, Shrimp and Beansprout and Leafy Green.  These were unbelievable and came with a number of different dipping sauces.  The owner of the restaurant is there to guide you through the flavors and show you the best combinations of dip for each. These were flakey and crunchy without being dry.

For our first main we had the Kyet-Tha Ohn-no khauk-Swe, which was a coconut noodle soup with chicken.  This dish exemplified the mix of different cultures tasting somewhere between a thai curry and chinese noodle soup.  The surprise was that it didn't have very much spice, but still had a very deep and rich flavor.  The soup was topped with crunchy noodles and had some bits of fried chicken in it which was the perfect textural contrast to the chewy noodles.

We also tried the spicey lamb curry, which tasted the same as any lamb masala you might get at a curry house in London.  No surprises there.  All in all, Mandalay is easily one of our favorite restaurants in London and with every dish coming in under £10, beers only costing £2.50, its one of the best value for money restaurants in the city.

Mandalay on Urbanspoon


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