Daw Yee Myanmar Café, a new Burmese eatery, looks to set itself apart in a sea of San Gabriel Valley Chinese flavor. For those unfamiliar with Myanmar (formerly Burma), its cuisine is a hodgepodge of flavors influenced by Thailand, India and China, and a welcome addition to a city without many Burmese dining options.
There’s not much to see at Daw Yee, a small mom-and-pop joint with fewer than a dozen tables, surrounded by bare wooden walls, no decor (save for a few plants) and a small retail section selling Burmese food items. The café’s intimate setting lends itself to friendly and brisk service.
Bypass the bland bowls of mohinga, Myanmar’s national dish, and ohnoh noodles, overcooked noodles in a coconut-chicken broth, in favor of fried pancake options: spiced ground beef and onion-stuffed kima platha ($5.95) and platha ($5.50), a wonderfully chewy and flaky disk served with a small bowl of richly flavored chicken-coconut stew to dip. But, the standout star is the tea leaf salad ($6.95): A colorful bed of fermented tea leaves and its supporting players—toasted peanuts, fried chickpeas, butter beans, garlic, sesame seeds, diced tomatoes, green chilies, lime and discernably funky fish sauce—create a fragrant mix of flavors. While the tofu salad might sound like a good idea, it tastes too similar to the tea leaf salad and is over-sauced, becoming a soft, mushy mess. But at about $6 a plate, you can let at least one misstep slide.
What to eat: The standout tea leaf salad is a must, as are the crisp fried platha and kima platha. A tangy green mango salad is occasionally offered as a special—unripe mango is combined with cabbage, fried garlic and a kick of chile. Coconut tapioca cake ($4) is the way to go for dessert and best consumed while it’s hot.
What to drink: Fresh coconut water ($3) is sometimes served, as is Myanmar milk tea ($2), tea sweetened with condensed milk. Mint lemonade ($3) is an option, too.
Where to sit: A few tables line a wooden banquette, while two-tops are scattered throughout the shoe box-sized space.