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Mandalay, The Myint Family's Burmese in Silver Spring, Moving Closer to Walter Reed in 2020


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Since a little birdie asked, here's the Mandalay thread.

I'll kick it off by saying that I've been going there for, um, years. Many years. Loved it back when they were in College Park, even though the ambiance was awful. Love it now that they are in Silver Spring. Even though the new place is twice the size of the old, there's still a wait some nights. The space is much nicer, though.

Joe and Ang (the two brothers who often wait tables and oversee the dining room) are sweet. Actually, Joe is an old grouch, but with a heart of gold, and I just love him.

Favorite dishes: KawPyant Gyaw (spring rolls) - always so fresh out of the fryer they'll burn your mouth if you don't wait to eat them. Gin Thoke (ginger salad) - very refreshing, good for a light meal in hot weather. There's a rice salad (forgot the name) that's tantalizing and comforting. KaYanChin Thee Tofu Hin is my all time favorite: tomato and tofu in onion curry. Ask for it spicy. Tofu Ohno Hin is tofu in cocnut curry. And don't forget sheji for dessert: warm cream of wheat and coconut pudding.

I go there frequently with a group (one of whom is a new member here; hopefully he'll chime in with some recommendation). Some of us just ask Joe "what's good tonight?" He always takes care of us.

Almost forgot the specials! On Thursdays, OhnHtaMin: chicken thighs in onion curry served on coconut rice. And on Sundays, DanPauk: also a chicken curry, but on a different rice.

Damn, now I've gone and made myself hungry. Anyone up for a Rockwellian invasion this Sunday?

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I have nothing to say about Mandalay.  But I would like to say this is the best thread title I've ever seen on DR.Com.  And there have been a lot of great titles.

Well, it will be entirely up to the Birthday Boy, but if we manage a lunch there, you will certainly hear all about it. And, yes, this is the BEST thread title ever.

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I gave my brother the choice of Sergio's or Mandalay and he chose the latter. He wasn't terribly hungry and just ordered the ginger salad and I ordered the green tea salad and the tomato, tofu and onion entree, which we wound up splitting.

While I thought the salad was interesting and refreshing, I think I could have done without all those fried garlic slices. On the no-complaint front, I asked for the tofu to be prepared "spicy", which it was, but not overly so. Our waitress also made sure we knew that the salads are prepared with fish sauce, in case anybody has an allergy. I really appreciate this kind of thoughtfulness, particularly in such an inexpensive place. There were very few people there for lunch, so we were promptly served. This was important because my brother the 'crat needed to be back in the office by 1 for a meeting that might or might not happen. :lol:

With three glasses of pretty acceptable wine (the one who had to go back to work only imbibed 1 :P ), tax and a generous tip, the total came to just under $47.

You know, my brother is such a swell guy, I should get together with him for lunch more often. I see much less of him since he moved the family out to Ellicott City. Besides, this is about the only time I can have him all to myself.

Will Michael Landrum's new place be within walking distance of the SS Metro?

I could really see a DR.com invasion of this place. It probably could fit in with the $20 Tuesday and is accessible from the subway. Attention DC residents: you won't need your passport to go there.

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Will Michael Landrum's new place be within walking distance of the SS Metro?

I could really see a DR.com invasion of this place.  It probably could fit in with the $20 Tuesday and is accessible from the subway.  Attention DC residents:  you won't need your passport to go there.

Pre-DR a bunch of us went on an eG outing to Mandalay.

The space for Ray's Classic is about 50 feet north of the intersection of Colesville and Georgia on the West side of Colesville.

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I could really see a DR.com invasion of this place.  It probably could fit in with the $20 Tuesday and is accessible from the subway. 

They didn't seem too accommodating when we had three or four large tables or eGers last year on a weeknight. And that was with fairly advanced warning.

But the ginger salad was really good.

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I visited this fun establishment for dinner last night.

I had the ginger salad and the mango salad and the mixed noodle dish. We ordered the mixed noodle dish medium and it was just fine (spicy-ness). It was served at room temperature but that didn’t take away from the nice complex of flavors and textures. The mango salad was not exactly bursting with flavor, but it was refreshing and tasty. The ginger salad had a nice bite to it.

The food came out extremely quickly (which led me to believe that it was all pre-made). But that did not take away from the authenticity of the food. It was more down-home food than haute cuisine. And that’s just fine with me!

The service was wonderful!! Subtly attentive. Not chatty and overly friendly like most places, but my water glass was never less than a third full. It’s a very family run place so there were some kids playing around as they came closer to closing time, but it wasn’t annoying.

And the prices absolutely can’t be beat!!!

I definitely want to go back and try more dishes!!!

Highly recommended!!!!

Peace & Blessings,

LaShanta

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Aung showed me their latest gimmicky-yet-compelling dessert item, a pretty tasty coconut ice cream served in a trimmed young coconut (meat intact). The same supplier also provides them with a pineapple ice cream served, of course, in a small hollowed-out pineapple. Alas the presentation drives up the cost, but both have apparently been hits. I tried to convince him that they should also stock a couple gallons of coconut ice cream and offer an à la mode option to the shweji.

Mandalay's front-room bar opened last week as well, but for drinks only; there won't be a bar menu available.

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I find that this with the exception of their salads, nothing on the menu really blows me away. Maybe I'm ordering the wrong things? the salads have this amazing complex flavor and the rest of the food doesn't quite measure up.

What did you order? The best non-salad items on the menu are pork with pickled mango, tofu with hot pepper, tofu with sour mustard.

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My favorite is nangee thoke - curried chicken strips served atop thick noodles that taste like they have been soaked in the coconut milk curry. We usually order several salads, multiple orders of the noodles (because they are too good to share) and a mustard green dish.

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What did you order? The best non-salad items on the menu are pork with pickled mango, tofu with hot pepper, tofu with sour mustard.

I usually order a curry dish but I find the curry to be lacking a bit. I will try some of the noddle dishes or tofu.

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Huzzah! Last night my fiancee and decided to go to Mandalay for dinner since we hadn't been there in months. This time we got it right. I ordered the ginger salad with garlic chips, yum and Nanjee Thoke (noodles with curried chicken tossed in burmese dressing) I was cocnered it might taste like a clone of the salad but the flavors were very different. Financee got the coconut egg noodle soup and sour tofu (which was delicous but he likes things hotter then me so I had trouble tasting all the flavors admist the spice)

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Decided that some soup might be the thing I needed to restore myself after an 8am final. Metroed out to SS from College Park (well, it's not like the old space was really walkable from campus anyway), and schlepped myself over to the dining room about noon.

Mohingar with cilantro and lime to taste, samosas, and an iced coffee later, things were better with the world. Well, *my* world- the rest of the world isn't doing so hot in spots. They're having a cash-only buffet dinner fundraiser for Cyclone Nargis victims on 1 June. RSVP here: http://mandalaycyclonerelief.wordpress.com/

Aung pulled a melon popsicle out of his hidden stash for me as I was on my way out the door. Mmmm, brain freeze.

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I just won a gift certificate to Mandalay. I've never been, so I'm seeking your advice. After reading through the thread, I get that the ginger salad (Gyinn Thoke) is a must, as well as the cream of wheat dessert (ShweJi), which was also recommended to me by a friend. I'd really appreciate your suggestions for dishes that come between salad and dessert. If it helps to know this, we do eat meat and we like spicy food. Thanks for your suggestions!

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I just won a gift certificate to Mandalay. I've never been, so I'm seeking your advice. After reading through the thread, I get that the ginger salad (Gyinn Thoke) is a must, as well as the cream of wheat dessert (ShweJi), which was also recommended to me by a friend. I'd really appreciate your suggestions for dishes that come between salad and dessert. If it helps to know this, we do eat meat and we like spicy food. Thanks for your suggestions!

On Thursdays, the chicken special is very good. The chickpea dishes are excellent, as are one or two of the salads and noodle dishes.

Whatever you do, however, be sure to order it authentically spiced. There's no restaurant in town with a greater distinction between dishes "not spicy" (pretty bland) and those that are ordered spicy. The spices apparently bring out the complex of flavors.

P.S. Don't get your expectations too high for the ginger salad (good but not Myannmar level) and the Shweji (also good, but not life-changing).

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Did the thread title change or do I just not get it?

Thanks, I nearly fried my brain.

I came to this thread to post about my experience tonight, but since my raves would be for the ginger salad and pork with pickled mango curry already noted above, I have nothing much to add, except to say this is a place that is too close to my home and especially my work for me to not go there more often, it's great.

I lucked out on the ginger salad, I hadn't read this thread before going, and I argued for the papaya salad. I've fallen in love with the papaya salad at Nava Thai (and less so at Mi La Cay) so I wanted to try the Burmese take on it. But I yielded and I'm delighted to have done so. My fascination with SE Asian food started with the spice--I love heat many would consider excessive, and this dish had none, yet was fantastic. Crispy gingery cabbage/carrot slaw, with the dressing leaning toward sweet. Contrary to the poster above, I loved the garlic chips and I would gladly eat them like peanuts.

I've probably been to Mandalay and ordered the pork with pickled mango curry on 6 of those occasions (and the chicken with pickled mango the other 4) and today was more of the same. I got it hot--which can be challenge, and today's was the hottest I have had. The staff often warn customers away from the hot but there was no protest today. This dish never disappoints but today I was glad to have the ginger salad to cool things off as I went along.

My companion got KyetThar Kabat Gyaw which was fine. It reminded me of Ruan Thai's Panang, a little hotter and not quite as good though. It reinforced by decision to stubbornly stick to the pickled mango curries.

And lastly--the map on the place mat taught me that I am woefully ignorant of the geography of the area. So that was fun.

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Thanks for all the suggestions in this topic. I had been a bit skeptical of all the raves from youthful vegetarians and vegans into the local food scene, but when Porcupine tells you to eat tofu....

After zinfadel and rabbit rillettes down at 8407 kitchen bar (i.e. not enough to write about, though I was pleased to see how packed the space was early on a Friday evening and I'll second Don Rocks on the carbs supplied. Though the portion of rillettes was suitably modest, conserving fat to lean strands of bunny was like 15:1, so more than 4 tiny, thin slivers of toast would have been welcome as well as something a bit sourish, crisp and solid to cut fat), we were perhaps ignorant enough of the Takoma Parkish side of Silver Spring to be surprised how packed this place was on a Friday night. Uncomfortably hot as a result.

I couldn't believe the ginger salad would live up to expectations established here but it really did. Anyone here know what makes it this delicious? I want to make it at home and eat it for lunch every day until I get sick of it.

Both omnivores, we nonetheless went for spicy tofu dishes as main courses. I did the #2 with "Thee" in the name. Cf. Porcupine. Again, wonderful as all get up, though I am hoping there is a way to ask for something between Aunt Edith's MInnesota Hot Dish version and the "I really do like hot food" level of spiciness because while the heat did not mask flavor in any way, I discovered I am more of a wuss than I thought I was. Friend ending her Forties went for a different dish with onions, greens (I couldn't identify them) and fried tofu. Server kindly brought us second glasses of water to have nearby just in case and I, at least, made use of reserves.

Definitely plan to return.

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I had been a bit skeptical of all the raves from youthful vegetarians and vegans into the local food scene, but when Porcupine tells you to eat tofu....

I appreciate the vote of confidence, but anyone else looking for guidance be warned: despite a well-deserved reputation for loving all things pork, I actually love tofu, too. As in, when a restaurant gives the choice "served w/ chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or tofu", I'll get the tofu more often than not.

AB, you can order food mild, medium, or spicy at Mandalay. "Spicy" may or may not be on an absolute level, but the important thing is that there is a noticeable difference between the three.

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...AB, you can order food mild, medium, or spicy at Mandalay. "Spicy" may or may not be on an absolute level, but the important thing is that there is a noticeable difference between the three.

And don't forget to ask for balachaung if not already placed on the table. Piquant peppery decapod deliciousness.

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Just got back from lunch there. Same as I had above so no review, but I'm happy to report they have lunch specials which are basically a buck off the menu price + a free samosa or spring roll. They don't offer it on the pickled mango curries so I skipped it, but I think it's a good deal anyway.

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I had a pleasant dinner there last night. we started with the samosa and the ginger salad. the samosa were small, 4 to a plate, and just ok. other than the spring roll wrapper, the filling seemed indistinguishable from a standard, rather bland, indian potato and pea filling. it comes with a hot red sauce to dip in, which added a bit of heat, but little else.

the ginger salad was quite good. i've only ever had this dish at burma in chinatown, and comparatively, Mandalay's version had noticeably less ginger, but a much stronger sesame flavor which i enjoyed and went well with the peanuts in the dish. we both thought this was by far the best dish of the evening.

my entree was the tofu in the onion-tomato sauce with basil. it was a pleasant homey dish, but i must admit the sauce, while pleasant, tasted mostly of salt with hints of onion and tomato, and intermittent hits of basil. it was perfectly pleasant, but after the ginger salad i was expecting something whose flavors were more complex.My companion had the chicken in brown sauce and said the tomato-onion sauce was much more flavorful than the borwn. I asked how spicy "medium" was, and our waiter said it was still pretty hot, lots of people had trouble with it. So we ordered our dishes mild, which was a mistake, because they had no discernable heat at all. The service was pleasant. I'd like to go back again, but next time i'll definitely get the dishes medium hot and maybe focus more on the salads.

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Whatever you do, however, be sure to order it authentically spiced. There's no restaurant in town with a greater distinction between dishes "not spicy" (pretty bland) and those that are ordered spicy.

Took some friends to Mandalay last night. One prefers food mild, as does MrP, and their dishes were almost bland. But the other loves it spicy, as do I, and yowsa was that spicy. <hic> So yeah, if you ask for spicy, that's what you'll get. Also, only two or three empty tables at 7:00 on a Monday night; good for them!

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In other news, they've finally broken ground on the mixed-use building which will house a second Mandalay, located in the Shaw neighborhood at 9th and P St NW. The article indicates that Aung will be heading up the new location.

I just did a cursory check, and didn't find anything written on the internet about the Shaw location in 1 1/2 years (is 1 1/2 hyphenated?). Does anyone have any updated information?

(Just lying here in bed, enjoying a good, malty, Bell's Best Brown Ale, loving the members and the content of this website, and leisurely grooming the slopes - I usually do this at 2 AM, when I can't sleep, often for a couple hours without even realizing thirty minutes have passed; but regardless of what time it is, I still thoroughly enjoy it after almost seven years - it's a time when I can turn my mind off, relax, and engage in my own OCD-perverse equivalent of cuddling up with a good book.)

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For at least the past 12 months i've gone to mandalay about twice a month, and every time it's been very good. the dining room isn't fancy, but it's adequate, and the servers are nice and have never gotten an order wrong. I usually split a vegetarian salad for a starter, and get a vegetarian noodle or tofu dish for my entree.

All of the salads i've had are a variation on a basic theme of finely shredded cabbage tossed with fried garlic chips, fried mung dal, and a dressing that comprises at least lemon juice, oil and sesame. imho, the star is the ginger salad, which features little strips of pickled ginger mixed in. you get crispness and freshness from the cabbage, the garlic adds crunch and strong mellow garlic flavor, the mung is salty yet earthy and adds a bit of substance, and the ginger laces it all with sweet and sour zing. so good, and it feels pretty healthy. the dish has been pretty consistent,and is just so darned good!! i get this about 90% of the time

the other salads i've tried are:

--the mango salad, which is the same as above, but with strips of half-ripe, sweet and sour mango instead of the ginger. this is good, and the sweet/sour contrast is similar to the ginger, but there's not the zing of the ginger, and they're less generous with the mango so you sometimes get mango-less bites.

-- the green tea leaf salad, which uses fermented green tea leaves. they add a funky, rich note that's almost like olives. quite different and good.

--gram fritter salad, which i didn't enjoy as much. it's the basic salad, with a couple fritters on top. the fritters mostly add substance, not flavor.

i inevitably get one of three entrees, and all are great. it just depends if i want a lot of flavor, or something milder:

Nyat KaukSwe Gyaw Flat rice noodles stir-fried with yellow beans (Vatana), bean sprouts, romaine hearts, crushed peanuts, and lightly fried tofu-the noodles are almost like drunken noodles, the soft yellow lentils add heartiness and a bit of earthiness, and the lettuce is sweet and a bit crunchy. the sauce is a mix of peanuts, sesame, and lemon, and is highly flavorful. i usually dislike pad thai because it's too sweet. this seems like what i want pad thai to taste like.

Tofu MoteNyin Chin Gaw--soft or fried tofu scrambled with onions, cilantro, and pickled sour mustard. -- an unusual dish and it's really good. the mustard is sour, a tiny bit earthy, and has a hint of mustardy bite, and the cilantro comes through clearly as well. yet, its not overpowering at all, indeed if you add too much rice to it the flavor is overwhelmed

Let Thoke Sone--a mix of four different types of long noodle (spaghetti, bean, etc) mixed with a mild sauce, tofu, potatoes, and onions.--really comforting and homey, and when you're craving carbs its hard to beat noodles with potatoes.

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I just did a cursory check, and didn't find anything written on the internet about the Shaw location in 1 1/2 years (is 1 1/2 hyphenated?). Does anyone have any updated information?

Kyaw posted a picture of the front of the building on facebook a few days ago; it's getting there.

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Mention of Donrockwell.com in the Mandalay article in the City Paper's 50 DC area dishes to try article (scroll to bottom)

The Chowhound and DonRockwell.com crowd has been flocking there for a while now, but if the unpretentious Burmese joint ever gets its long-planned second location up and running in Shaw, plates like Mandalay’s tofu with sour mustard greens will be on everyone’s radar.
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After a 3 years of construction and permitting delays, Mandalay DC (9th and P NW) is juuuuust about ready to open.  Last night they held a grand-opening buffet, but with bottled water and disposable cutlery and plates, since all the real stuff is still boxed up on shelves on the first floor.  They plan on opening to the public on Sept. 17, with a menu largely composed of chef specials, different from the Silver Spring location. The second floor dining room is not highly decorated, but the architectural details show nicely.  The window bays have lounge-style seating.

Since it's not officially open to the public, I'll not comment on the food, except to say that I hope the pork rib and potato dish makes it onto the menu.  And the mushrooms with hot peppers.  And the tofu with sweet mango pickle curry.

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Tom Sietsema's article explains that the new Mandalay in Shaw has not opened yet because of a lack of servers.  But, what I found interesting is this:

Unlike the original Mandalay in Silver Spring, the 100-seat offshoot is offering a seven-course spread for a single price, possibly $70, Myint says. Each night will feature a "star" entree around which Myint, a co-chef along with his wife, Mar, plans to offer appetizers, soups and other dishes to complement it. One item he expects to serve frequently is tea leaf salad, which he calls "my day-off salad" because he eats it even when he's not cooking. Another dish he plans to showcase is samosa soup, which combines split peas with chilies, cabbage, mint and broken pieces of samosa. Non-alcoholic drinks made from fresh fruit and vegetable juices will accompany the feast. The same beverages can be spiked for an extra charge.

The article goes on to mention that allergies and vegetarans can be accommodated and a menu for neighborhood folks.

A continuing trend of limited or no choice prix fixe menus at Asian restaurants (e.g., Thai Xing, Little Serow, the Maketto pop up)?

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Somehow i missed the information about the price point earlier, but $70 for a 7 course meal is a bummer. I love their food, but simply can't eat 7 courses most nights, and the price makes it a "splurge" meal as well. the article mentions that they'll be offering the option of meals with fewer courses for "locals." why restrict it to locals?

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Wait, it's tasting menu only?  Odd to use the same name for a different concept, and arguably should be a different thread.

I cannot imagine Mandalay as *only* having a tasting menu. It won't survive.

Then again, Michel Richard spent $100K+ on a Volkswagon, so who knows?

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If the level of food at the Shaw location is anywhere up to par with the service I've already received from there, I expect that I will be a repeat customer many times over.

Yesterday I booked a table online for me and my girlfriend for the prix fixe dinner next Thursday.  I then received a friendly email from Vincent, who's in charge of reservations at Mandalay, thanking me for my booking and asking if we had any dietary restrictions for the chef to take into account.*

He also informed me that Mandalay offered a three-glass wine pairing for $22 or a cocktail pairing for $30  (which, in his words, "takes two non-alcoholic mixed drinks that are paired as part of the 7 course tasting experience and 'spikes' them with alcohol, and adds two more cocktails"), and to get a gauge of this latter option I asked him if he could tell me about one or two of the cocktail pairings they had offered in the past.  This was his speedy (i.e., within thirty minutes) response:

The cocktail pairings can vary wildly, I suggest considering them a way to add adventure to the tasting experience.  They are consistently successful for our guests, but they are not consistent in their themes, to be more specific about what I mean by 'varying wildly'.
 
The current director of beverages is very creative and never adverse to risk.  He likes challenges and likes challenging his guests to like something new.  

The starters are often nicely executed refreshments, often lightly carbonated and flavored with apertifs, so they land a little on the bittersweet side.  My favorites there have been made with Aperol, an italian apertif made from grapefruits.

For the complementary mocktails that come with the 7 course dining experience, he often focuses on fresh made vegetable and fruit juice for their base flavors, and I've personally loved his experiments with green drinks and alcohols along those lines.  They were largely very hearty drinks that complement a salad fairly well, though some might say it's too competitive.  In the last round of that style of salad pairings, he transformed the same hearty flavors into a light and refreshing  bright green sparkling soda, that was quite reminiscent of a cola, but fruitier with a stronger citrus note.     

His dessert cocktails have varied from gelatins, to thick and creamy concoctions, to light carbonated papaya champagne style.  Some don't seem like pairings as much as a second dessert.  

As I said, it's a complementary adventure in dining. 
 

I do recommend getting one pairing to share with your guest, overall.  If you both love cocktails and adventures like this, I recommend a pairing for each of you, but you will get the same cocktails, you just won't have to share them.

In case I scared you away from that experience, however, we also do have cocktails available ala carte, as well as wine and beer available ala carte, in limited selection.

That's truly going above and beyond.  Thanks for such a great first impression, Vincent!  Sounds like both their food (under Chef Aung) and drink (under beverage director Ryan Bixby) is something to be anticipated.  I can't wait until next Thursday.

*I suspect you can expect to get this email the day before your reservation.  I had originally booked for tonight, but due to a scheduling conflict modified my reservation two minutes later.  Vincent was so on top of things that he had emailed me regarding my initial reservation in essentially the time it took for me to reschedule -- and then sent an immediate follow-up email regarding my updated reservation, letting me know that you can inform the chef of dietary restrictions up to 5 pm prior to the date of the reservation, and opt into the cocktail pairing prior to 2 pm of the day you're dining.

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Thanks, Gadarene!

Glad to help.   Regarding the follow-up on reservations, one of our staff will be trying to follow up on all reservations well in advance of the day before to make sure all dietary restrictions are adequately communicated.  In this particular scenario, I responded when the re-schedule for the next day arrived.

Head chef Aung Myint prides himself on being able to make meals for restricted diners that make the unrestricted eaters envious.  At 5pm the night before a seating is when he takes all the reservation requests and restrictions and composes the 7 courses per guest.    The next morning he buys all the ingredients, and what he finds while shopping will sometimes alter the plan if he finds an ingredient that he finds particularly inspiring.

Great to e-meet you, and thanks for the introduction to Don Rockwell.com

-

Vincent

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Hi Cheezepowder!

Thanks for the welcome!

The bar lounge, "The Palace", is subject to the whims of the reservations.  At this point with how busy it isn't yet, the restaurant is purchasing ingredients for the reservations in The Tower (7 course tasting prix fixe), and extra, with some staples, to make items for The Palace.

We guarantee some great fried goods with Burmese hot sauce, and two Burmese salads, but the feature ingredients in all could change daily.  There will always be vegan items and meaty items.

I myself am hoping the home-sprouted pepyoke (yellow verdana beans, like a small and very savory chick-pea) on house made tortilla chips will remain a staple. Perhaps I should change my moniker now that I wrote that.

We are planning on offering hot soups as well, when the weather makes them even more desirable.

Drinks wise, the happy hour menu currently features craft cocktails made with house made infusions, and discounted wine and beer.  And we are working on a signature cocktail, currently focused on the only cocktail we found that was invented in Burma, the Pegu.

Come on in, give it a try, and tell us what you think.

-

Vincent

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Tom Sietsema's article explains that the new Mandalay in Shaw has not opened yet because of a lack of servers.  But, what I found interesting is this:

The article goes on to mention that allergies and vegetarans can be accommodated and a menu for neighborhood folks.

A continuing trend of limited or no choice prix fixe menus at Asian restaurants (e.g., Thai Xing, Little Serow, the Maketto pop up)?

Hi Cheezepowder,  I'm still catching up, but wanted to reassure and clarify that the head chef, Aung Myint, at The Mandalay Building in Shaw loves the challenge of catering to dietary restrictions per guest. He makes it a point of personal pride to make sure people never feel 'left out' of a good dining experience.

The reservation form asks for dietary restrictions per guest.

-

Vincent

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