Food Adventure Team

Exploring San Francisco, one restaurant at a time.

Archive for November, 2008



4348 California Street (at 6th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94118

Suggested by Brendan

In attendance:


Burmese food! A first for me. Conclusion: delicious. A little like Thai, a little like Chinese, some hints of Indian. Thoroughly Southeast Asian. Supposedly it’s like Lao food, but since I’ve never had Lao food that doesn’t mean much to me.

Overall, everything was delicious. My only gripe would be that the food wasn’t quite spicy enough. That’s saying a lot, considering Kateri and I had to fight tooth & nail with Reed to NOT ask for extra-super-no-really-I-can-handle-it-even-though-I’m-white spicy. We did agree that he could order one dish spicy–the basil prawns–but he didn’t do it emphatically enough I guess because it was the least spicy of the bunch! In fact it wasn’t spicy at all. Still very tasty though.


  • Samusa (with Chicken or Vegetarian) – A mixture of grounded curried meat and potatoes
    Yum. Nice and crispy with tasty innards. Pretty much the same as Indian Samosas. (Funny how the Eritreans have sambusas, the Burmese have samusas, and the Indians and Tibetans have samosas.)
  • Balada – Burmese crispy pancake with curry dipping sauce
    If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I love fried food. This pancake was no exception. The curry sauce was good, if not a little bland, but when combined with the spicy red pepper sauce they put on the table at the beginning of the meal, it was divine.


  • Rainbow Salad – Salad prepared with eight ingredients served with house special dressing

    This is the only thing I didn’t try because it didn’t look appealing to me. (No meat? Cold? Pickled things? Not my cup o’ tea.)

  • Basil Prawn – Our fresh basil leaf sauce is fragrant and created in our chef’s oriental wok
    As mentioned above, not spicy enough, but delicious and very basil-y. I wish there were more shrimp; between the four of us, we each only got two shrimp. The dishes were pretty small — which is not to say we walked away hungry.
  • Mango Chicken – Pan fry chicken sauteed with fresh mango, onions, and green chili
    My favorite! Tender white meat chicken with generous chunks of sweet, perfectly ripe mango. Only gripe: difficult to get a hold of mangos with chopsticks. Wait, do they use chopsticks in Myanmar, or have they switched to forks, like Thailand?
  • Mandalay Beef – Fried beef slices sauteed with garlic and chef’s delicious hot sauce
    I’m pretty sure this is the beef dish we got. Unfortunately, I’m writing this a few weeks late, so I can’t remember for sure. It was very tasty, though.
  • Rice – Instead of plain white rice, Mandalay gives you a selection of about four different types of rice. We got the coconut rice and the saffron rice. Both were delicious, in very different ways. The coconut was nutty and slightly sweet. The saffron rice was more savory.


The desserts aren’t listed on Mandalay’s website, so I’ll do my best to remember what they were.

  • Little rectangles of cream of wheat, sprinkled with poppy seeds. I have no idea what these were called, but they were quite tasty indeed! A little sweet, but not too sweet. Some might call it bland, but I really enjoyed its subtle flavors. The poppy seeds added the perfect amount of crunch.

    Backlit confection. Photo by Josh

  • Mango Sticky Rice. A classic. Delicious as always. Rich, creamy, sticky, coconut sticky rice, topped with cool, perfectly ripe mango. One of my favorite desserts of all time!
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131 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Suggested by Laurie

In attendance:


I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by the food at this place. I got there a little earlier than the rest of our team, so I had a chance to study the menu a bit. Everything looked absolutely amazing. I had a tough time trying to decide what to get! But, sadly, I felt everything fell a bit flat. It was a similar concept to the previous Food Adventrure — Maverick: fancied up comfort food. But where Maverick was divine, I felt Sauce was merely mediocre. The food was alright for sure, but didn’t exceed a decent home-cooked meal.

To start, we shared the Ham & Cheese Tater Tots. (Smoked Ham Hock & Tillamook Cheddar). Definitely tasty, but nothing terribly special. For one, I couldn’t figure out where the ham came into play. There were no chunks of it, and I didn’t notice a particularly obvious smoked flavor to the tater tots. They were basically deep fried “fingers” of mashed potatoes, served with a dipping sauce that, if I had to guess, I’d say was ketchup + mayo. In all, though, one of my favorite dishes of the evening. That’s because I’m a sucker for any sort of fried potato.

The presentation of everything was nice though. Tracey got the Pan Seared Hanger Steak (Yukon Potato Gratin, Crispy Shallots & Spinach Cremini Mushroom Demi Gloss) and it sure did look tasty. Laurie got the Prosciutto Wrapped Tilapia (Roasted Tomato Risotto, Caramelized Onion& Spinach, Toasted Black Pepper Beurre Blanc), which was my second choice and I ultimately wished I’d gotten because it looked so good. I didn’t try either of the dishes, though, except a bite of Tracey’s mushroom– which tasted like cooked barely-seasoned mushroom in its own juice.

I got the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf (Individually Roasted Seasoned Ground Beef Wrapped in Apple Wood Smoked Bacon with Truffle Whipped Potato. French Green Beans & Mushrooms). Sounds amazing, right? Well… I was unimpressed. It looked quite nice — a heap of potatoes, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and green beans covered generously in gravy, with two long strips of… yam or sweet potato crisp (?) sticking up out of it. Well, to start, I tasted nothing of truffle in the mashed potatoes. They were perfectly creamy–which isn’t bad but also means there’s not much in the way of textural interest. They tasted pretty good, but honestly I’ve made better mashed ‘taters in my day. It’s hard to screw up mashed potatoes. The meatloaf was particularly disappointing. It was basically a ground beef patty. No seasoning other than salt, no chunks of onions, and it wasn’t even very juicy. Bland bland bland. The green beans were fine and the gravy was alright if not a bit one-dimensional. It seemed the only seasoning they had on hand that night was salt. Boring.

Dessert was good, but only the doughnuts got me super jazzed. We got the Sauce Sampler (Little bit of this and a little bit of that). As we were warned when we ordered, it was an enormous amount of dessert! It had their signature PB&J (Pan Seared Sponge Cake Layered with Homemade Strawberry Preserve and Frangelico Peanut Butter, Vanilla Ice Cream Center), Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts (Fresh and hot with Vanilla Bourbon Dipping Sauce), Ice Cream Smash (In-House Ice Cream Creations Topped with Chocolate Sauce — that day it was a chocolate ice cream with peanuts, and something else I can’t remember), and Strawberries & Cream (Fresh Strawberries, Brown Sugar and Cream).

The strawberries & cream were really simple: strawberries attractively skewered with their stems which had already been cut off, brown sugar, on a thick pile of whipped cream. Simple and delicious — strawberries and brown sugar is actually something I grew up with. But really, not a dish that’s particularly exciting.

The ice cream smash was good too. It was 3 scoops of ice cream. Yep. Probably about on par with Ben & Jerry’s. Oddly, the ice cream of the day had whole peanuts in it, which gave it a texture I wasn’t terribly fond of. Not that I’d turn my nose up at it! But it certainly wasn’t exciting in the way that, say, the fennel ice cream at Absinthe was.

The PB&J — their signature dessert. Definitely unique! Maybe it’s just that it didn’t include any of my favorite things: chocolate, caramel, toffee– but it didn’t really float my boat. The pan-seared sponge cake was odd. It really did taste like toast. Weird, sponge cake toast. The rest of it, eh, I dunno. Just wasn’t really a fan. Odd, though, because actually peanut butter IS one of my favorite things… but I didn’t even notice it in this dish.

Ok, but the doughnuts… the doughnuts were awesome. Tiny crispy poofs with doughy centers, rolled in cinnamon sugar, with an absolutely delicious vanilla bourbon sauce to dip them in. Yay!

I do have to say that the service and ambiance were great. Not a single complaint there. Everyone was really friendly, and the place had nice decor and perfect lighting for a date or a casual night out with friends. We were supposed to be a party of five, but at the last minute two cancelled, leaving us with only three. The waitress was really cool about that, for which I was grateful.

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