its not often that i eat burmese food outside of burma superstar, the ubiquitous cult hole in the wall joint here in the inner richmond where i live. but last week i noticed a new burmese place opened where eva’s hawaiian cafe’ once was called pagan. i was immediately interested and wanted to see if pagan cut the mustard compared to burma superstar down the road.
the space was completely redone: new hard wood floors, hand painted and detailed walls, even brand new ceiling tiles. there were a lot of little decorative touches, like the table tops and the walls from the moulding down matched the trim on the burmese tapestry wall hangings. the drinking glasses are shaped like bamboo spears. all around pretty nice aesthetically, they didn’t cross that fine line into kitsch which can easily happen when designing around an asian theme. but like all asian places, i wonder if it will stay as clean and nice looking as it does now after some time goes by.
the menu is burmese/thai fusion, although i hate the word “fusion” because so often it means pretentiously described dishes on ugly modern funny-shaped plates that are more than often over priced in a douchey/sceney atmosphere. so, i’ll say that pagan is burmese with thai touches here and there, but overall the experience is pretty home-cooked tasting. the menu itself is medium to large in size, with at least 5 items in each category and a large selection of burmese salads, great for me because i’ve never found a burmese salad i didn’t like.
i ordered the pork and pumpkin curry and my husband the traditional lamb burmese curry. my pork and pumpkin stew was excellent possessing a light spicy flavor that mellowed out into savory notes after a few chews. the lamb curry was good, although my husband found it bland. i thought it could use more heat, but the flavors were good and the lamb was tender. it said it was cooked with onion, tomatoes, and potatoes but neither tomatoes nor onions did we find in our dish which was a bit puzzling. i’d order both again, and my husband would order my dish again but not his. the couple next to us had a fantastic looking noodle dish that looked to be flavored with either saffron or caraway oil judging by the color which is what i think we’ll order next time. my thai iced tea was just a hair watery but my husband’s thai coffee was nice and strong.
the only issue was the service was a little slow and out of tune but hopefully this issue will improve over time. since we both had the afternoon off, we had no problem taking our time and waiting for the food and check, but i did see a couple tables full of impatient looking patrons making the “writing in the air/check please!” motion well after they finished their plates.
overall: A- or a B+, but i don’t think burma superstar has anything to worry about.
service: C, they could be more organized and/or engaging.