I wish I could say we went to the real Innya (Inya) lake in the former capital city, Rangoon (Yangon), but that would be a little out of the budget right now. It looks lovely though. It is an artificial lake built during the British occupation in 1883 as a freshwater reservoir. These days the lake and surrounding park are a romantic area for couples, as well as, an area for swimming, sailing and rowing.
But, that's not where we went. Nope, not even close. We went to San Bruno, one of the windiest places in the world I would have to guess, and ate at it's first (only?) Burmese restaurant- Innya Lake.
Not the most impressive restaurant you'll ever go to, but I'm not fancy and who brings kids to a fancy restaurant anyway?! Not me. Anyway, we gave the spiel about doing a project about Burma and could they recommend any of the dishes. The menu also had a lot of Chinese dishes, but our waitress said most of the "House Specials" were Burmese. So that's where we looked...and I feel like we ordered one of everything!! We had.....
- Lap Pat Dok- this was a dish that I had to talk my family into trying. And now they love me even more. It is a "salad" but not in the U.S. tradition of lettuce and ranch dressing. It comes to the table a composed plate of ingredients- Burmese tea leaves (!), lentil seeds, ground shrimp, peanuts, fried garlic slices, sesame seeds, spicy chili pepper, and dressing. The waitress then tosses it all together and then your taste buds explode!! My husband was NOT going to try it, but then he saw my brother and I both really enjoying it. He's lucky he dug in when he did, because it was REALLY good. Crunchy and really tasty. A must try. They also had a similar version with fresh ginger shreds instead of the tea leaves....hmmm, maybe I'll go back for lunch today.
- The combination Satay- I didn't get a picture of this, but it's basically marinated meat on a stick. This was also very good. The meat was super tender and needed no dipping sauce, although one was served with it. I didn't care much for the dipping sauce- it was peanut, coconut and pineapple and a little too sweet for me. There was a pickled salad on the plate with some crunchy white vegetables that we were told were white carrots- those were yummy too. This dish was very popular with the kids! But then, who doesn't like food on a stick?
- Palada, also called Thousand Layer Bread. This is where you start to see the Indian influence on the Burmese food. It's a flat bread, a little greasier than Indian flatbreads, that you use to scoop up all the delicious sauces that the foods are served with. Not super delicious on it's own but a great vehicle to get the last bit of sauce off your plate (since it's impolite to lick your plate).
- Own Ta Mein- This was a dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and topped with fried shallots and a side dish of curried meat to go along with it. Delicious, a little spicy but not too much. The meat (we had beef) was very tender and the sauce also had some perfectly cooked potatoes that were great. I didn't get a picture of this either since I was too busy making room on the table for all the food!!
- Innya Lake Beef- this dish was named after the restaurant so I don't know if it has another name or they "invented" it, but this was another popular one with the kids. The beef was very lightly battered and fried. The batter was very delicate and added just a nice crunch that you weren't expecting. We didn't expect the crunch because of the sauce covering the meat- a little too much sauce if you ask me, but it was very tasty and went great on the steamed rice or palada. This dish also came with chicken, pork, squid or shrimp options.
-Burmese Beef Kabob- this was not a kabob, more of a stir fry. Maybe "kabob" means something different in Burma? Whatever, doesn't matter because this was my favorite. It was marinated beef, tomatoes, onions, spicy peppers, and ginger in a curry sauce. It was so flavorful and every once in a while you'd get a chili or piece of ginger and get a flavor explosion! The kids (and my onion/tomato hating husband) didn't care for it as much as I did. More for me :)
-Fried Banana with Ice Cream- We've had a fried banana before but the batter on these was so light and delicate that my husband could not get over how good they were. My kids would only try the ice cream (vanilla) until the very end when my daughter was talked into a bite of the fried banana! She loved it...too bad she waited so long...........it was already gone!! You snooze, you lose.
We all really enjoyed our meal. My husband must've told me 15 times how much he loved the food!! We ordered some sweet and sour chicken for the kids because I was afraid they wouldn't eat the Burmese dishes but it was barely touched. If you go, try the House Specials. We will be there again....and again....and again! And maybe when Myanmar gets their act together, we'll go to the real Innya Lake!!!
The proof is in the empty plate!!