Stepping through the front door of Burma Superstar, the intense aroma of Burmese curries and spices instantly warmed us. The smell, which was so potent that it felt as if it were the reason for our warming bodies, was the perfect antidote for a bitterly cold day in the City. Flashing a giant, welcoming smile, our waiter showed us to our table in the back corner. We cozily fit in, feeling relieved to be out of the cold, then we quickly ordered a two pots of tea: one pot lemon and ginger, and the other pot rose.
The white ceramic tea pots were set on our table, steam playfully dancing off the seeping liquid. Colorful, tiny, rose buds danced in the water as I carefully poured four cups. The tea is sourced from a small shop around the block called Aroma Tea Shop. Our friendly waiter chatted with us about his background. His smile quickly emerged again as he told us he lives in San Jose and is a full time software engineer down there. He commutes to the city every Sunday to be close to his people and his food. “There is nothing like Burmese food,” he added. Trusting his advice we ordered everything he suggested and soon our table was full of noodles, salads, and fragrant, bubbling curries.
The Tea Leaf Salad was oh, so good. Fermented tea leaves imported from Burma are the main ingredient in the salad, adding a heavenly umami flavor to the other ingredients, shredded lettuce, fried garlic, peanuts and dried shrimp. Every part of the meal was exceptional, even down to the coconut rice and pea shoots. Feeling the warmth of a tasty, long lunch, we stepped back out into the crisp air and headed to Aroma Tea Shop. Inside of the shop, one wall is filled floor to ceiling with oversized silver containers that are labeled with ridiculous internet imagery depicting the name of the tea inside, Blue People, Longevity Eyebrow. The Vanilla White Tea had a highly pixelated picture of Obama licking the top of a vanilla ice cream swirl. Haymen Da Luz, also known as the Tea Man, is the owner of Aroma Tea Shop. He’s a hilarious, tattooed guy with plenty of one-liners to keep you laughing through your complementary tea tasting. We happily bought enough tea to last us through 2014 and left with pleasant caffeinated buzzes.