There’s not a vegetarian restaurant to be found near where I live or work. Our county, despite being the richest in the country and one of the fastest growing, doesn’t have a single vegetarian (let alone vegan) eatery. Sadly, much of the eastern part of the county has been strip-malled to death so there are Ruby Fridaybee’s everywhere. Thankfully, there is a pretty good variety of veggie-friendly Vietnamese, Thai, India, and Mexican restaurants.
One of my favorite of these restaurants is A Taste of Burma in Sterling, VA. It’s the relatively new sister establishment of the excellent Myanmar Restaurant in Falls Church, where my wife and I ate at frequently when we lived in the area. Burmese cuisine, I’ve found, is unlike any other single cuisine in that area of the world. Sure, it’s got touches of southeast Asian style as well as obvious Indian influence, but there are some recipes that seem to be wholly Burmese.
One of these is my new favorite dish, their Fermented Tea Leaf Salad. The menu describes it as “pickled tea leaf, cabbage, tomatoes, sesame, peanuts, broad beans, lime juice, garlic chips, and seasoning.” While the idea of eating a tea leaf salad may sound a little strange, let me assure you that it’s delicious. I honestly cannot even find the words in my vocabulary to describe what the taste is like. I can’t compare it to anything I’ve eaten before. But, wow, is it good.
The restaurant itself is fast becoming my favorite place in the area to eat because it’s usually relatively empty (hopefully not a bad sign for the business, as two consecutive Thai restaurants in the same location went ouf of business in less than two years). Initially, the service was kind of slow, but recently has picked up quite nicely. The owner, the brother of Myanmar’s owner, is very friendly and sometimes brings out new non-menu items for me try. His sister is vegetarian, so I’ve been told to rest easy that the vegetarian dishes really are (ie. no fish sauce).
If anyone’s ever out my way during the workweek and wants to meet up for lunch, let me know. It’s not hard to convince me to make a trip there.