Monday, October 27, 2008

Mandalay Restaurant & Cafe - Silver Spring, MD

A week or 2 ago I got to try Mandalay Restaurant & Cafe in Downtown Silver Spring. It is about a block away from the new town center part, and the closest metro stop is Silver Spring on the Red line.

This is a Burmese restaurant which serves food from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. For those of you that have never heard for this country it is located in in Asia in between China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, and the sea. Due to it's geographical location its cuisine shares similar characteristics with its bordering neighbors.

The restaurant is located on a small side street that has limited meter parking. There are metered city parking lots close by and a garage on Wayne Ave one block away that is free at night.

Walking into the foyer of the place you will notice around 30 dining awards on the wall from newspapers, Washingtonian Magazine, etc. Sorry I don't have a pic!

The interior of the place reminded me of a chinese restaurant. Large enough space, large round tables in the center, and framed pictures on the walls. There wasn't anything too glamourous about the decor. They did have hanging christmas lights around, however they weren't turned on.

As you can see the place was PACKEDDDDDDD. It was a saturday night around 7:30pm, but only waited about 15 minutes. What is nice is you can wait in their lounge room off to the left. Sorry no pics! But there is a bar, bar tables, a very large plasma screen tv, and random decor.

There are 4-person booths along one wall, and that is where we were sitting. Throughout the night I think we had like 4 different servers help us, so it was a bit slow sometimes.

Let's talk about the menu. It is a large menu with vegetarian dishes, seafood, poultry, beef and pork. However if you pay close attention, they're pretty much all the same dishes just with different meat. Curry dishes make up a large portion of the menu. They also offer room-temperature noodles, which everyone at my table was afraid to try. You are also able to specify the spiciness of your dish ranging from none, mild, medium, hot and extra hot.

Along with my water I ordered an 'Iced LaPetYay' which is Black tea with condensed milk and sugar for $1.99. It was good and strong.

For our appetizer we ordered the 'Gram Fritter ' which are deep fried patties of yellow split peas, ginger, garlic, and cilantro blended together. An order came with 4 for $4.99. It was super yummy, crispy, freshly fried, and flavorful in the middle.

The Gram Fritters came with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. Similar in consistancy with duck sauce at chinese restaurants.

Onto entrees. Everyone at our table got some sort of curry since it seemed like a speciality. Two of my cousins ordered the same thing with different spice levels. They ordered the 'AMeThar ALoo Hin', sliced beef and lightly fried potato simmered in onion-tomato base curry for $12.99 each. The one below is the spicy version. As you can see the curry is redder, and there are a ton of pepper flakes all over it. It had a warm flavor to it. Definetly spicy, with a bit of cinnamon. The potatoes were very tender as well as the beef. The curries were served with jasmine rice, which by the way was cooked perfectly and soaked up all the liquids.

This was the mild version of the beef and potato curry. Delicious as well, but sometimes its better to have a little kick.

My bf ordered the 'KyetThar ALoo Hin (dark meat)', chicken chunks and lightly fried potato simmered in onion base curry for $11.99. It's the same curry as the other 2, but it was with chicken. He ordered it extra spicy, and he was definetly hurting during it. Some places will claim their dishes are spicy when they really aren't. However when Mandalay says it's spicy/extra spicy, your nose will run, and you will sweat!

I ordered a seafood curry called, 'Ngar MaGeeThee Hin', lightly fried catfish simmered in onion-tomato base curry with tamarind and green pepper for $11.99. You can get this dish with salmon if you'd prefer. I got it in mild because I was nervous about the spiciness, however it wasn't spicy at all. The fish was cooked well and breaded, the green peppers were still crisp and the curry was flavorful. It was a bit sour from the tamarind, which was different from the other curries. Burmese curries seemed to differ from Indian curries and Thai curries in that they are more runny/liquidy, and are more tomato-based. But similar to Indian curries, there are a ton of different spices it in to give huge, bold flavor.

For dessert we decided to try the 'Sticky Rice with brown Sugar & Coconut' for $2.99. It was served hot, and was very sweet. It was very tasty, but very think and heavy to eat. It was hard to eat it because we were stuffed from the other foods, but we ordered 2 anyway.

I would recommend this place to those who aren't afraid of bold flavors or trying something new. The prices are good, the portions are manageable, and the food is very tasty and spicy if you like that sort of thing. It's good for group dinners because they have tables to accomodate large parties. An enjoyable, laid-back dining expirience.

Open Every Day:
Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm
Sun 12pm-10pm
Closed 3-5pm Every Day

930 Bonifant St.
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4514
301 585 0500


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