Family opens ‘Taste of Burma’ in Stanton

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BY TONY CHEONG: The first and only Burmese restaurant in Orange County has opened in Stanton.

Owned and operated by family members Banny Hong and Fred Phan, Irrawaddy Taste of Burma is utterly unique, but it’s much, much more: the vast array of dishes are stunningly delicious, the atmosphere is classy, clean and comfortable and the service is spot-on, done with a smile and great pride in the cuisine and culture. 

Along with an unforgettable meal, I received a lesson in geography and history.

BY TONY CHEONG: The first and only Burmese restaurant in Orange County has opened in Stanton.

Owned and operated by family members Banny Hong and Fred Phan, Irrawaddy Taste of Burma is utterly unique, but it’s much, much more: the vast array of dishes are stunningly delicious, the atmosphere is classy, clean and comfortable and the service is spot-on, done with a smile and great pride in the cuisine and culture. 

Along with an unforgettable meal, I received a lesson in geography and history.

If you’re like me, when you hear Burma (now called Myanmar), you race for a globe. This nation borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country's largest city, features numerous markets, parks, lakes and the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics dating to the 6th century.

Most of the west side of Burma is on the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, and a river runs north/south the length of the country, providing divine water from the Himalayas.

Irrawaddy River. Hence, the name of an eatery that delivered an incredibly diverse, multi-course meal, with plates ranging from tea leaf salad to catfish chowder to golden tofu.

I don’t have the space to describe every dish, so I’ll focus on a handful.

TEA LEAF SALAD

If you visit a family in Burma, you will likely be served a tea leaf salad (La Phat Thote).  Loaded with Romaine lettuce, peanuts, lentils, fried garlic, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and drizzled with a lime tea leaf dressing, this is an eclectic salad full of varied tastes and textures. Every bite brings a delightful surprise. The green tea leaves, which you will find in other dishes, are important to the culture. When the tea leaves are harvested, the best of the crop is set aside for fermenting, while the rest is dried and processed for drinking tea.

FLAT NOODLES

The Kauk Swear Thote (flat noodles) must be mentioned. Get this: green, flat noodles sautéed with coconut milk in a sweet paprika sauce with chicken or shrimp. Banny shared his secret that gives this fare a nice kick: curry flakes. And though a noodle dish, you typically eat this at room temperature.

BIRYANI

The Dun Pauk served with lamb is, I’ve heard, one of the most talked-about dishes at Taste of Burma, which opened earlier this month.

At Irrawaddy, the chefs marinate the lamb overnight and it's cooked with a blend of Indian spices served with basmati or coconut rice.

The meat is so tender it melts in your mouth.

READY FOR DESSERT?

I ended my feast with the coup de grace, a tall glass bottomed with lime Jell-O, tapioca in the middle, then strawberry ice cream and milk, topped with fresh sliced strawberries, on top. A tip: It’s served in a glass for presentation, but to mix the elements and send your taste buds to tapping, pour it into a bowl and stir. It’s a dessert that will leave anyone with a sweet longing to return to Irrawaddy.

Simply put, Irrawaddy is the most interesting and exquisite eating experience I’ve enjoyed in my four-plus years with this paper.

Irrawaddy Taste of Burma

7076 Katella Ave.

Stanton, CA 90680

714-252-8565

www.Irrawaddytasteofburma.com