I’m so excited, it’s finally here. I’ll keep this short, but the brand new location of my all-time favorite Silicon Valley restaurant Rangoon Ruby, has opened a sister location a block from my SF apartment. In a space that used to be a lackluster sushi spot called Sushi Rock, my beloved Palo Alto Burmese favorite has planted roots. From the moment Sushi Rock had shuttered, I was aware because the place is actually in directly eye line from my apartment window. I anxiously awaited something new and interesting to come and take over the space. And I was over-the-moon elated when I saw a Coming Soon banner indicating that it would be a location of the exact place I missed most after transitioning from Palo Alto to SF.
So, I waited with baited breath as the space was renovated and brought back from the dead with a new name and new lease on life. Over the past few weeks, I’d often pop my head inside to check on the build progress, watching it get ever closer to completion. And then suddenly, it opened!
As soon as I saw the sign that everything was a go, Amy and I headed over so that I could finally show her what this Burmese cuisine that I was raving about for months was actually all about. Seriously, whenever people ask me to compare SF to NYC, I always bring up NYC’s lack of Burmese food and how those restaurants are the only places I truly get excited to eat a salad at. People look at me like I’m crazy, but I always just tell them to try me and try them… then they’ll understand why I’m so obsessed.
I was also impressed with this location of Rangoon Ruby for a number of reasons. First of all, the space looks fantastic. I love the look of the sweeping, looping ceiling arches and upscale vibe of the white linen-topped tables. Secondly, the service was impeccable. They were extremely attentive – there the instant you finished your cup of cucumber-infused water to fill you back up and ready to answer answer questions or clear your plates. It was kind, helpful, and truly impressive for opening week.
When our waitress asked us about drink orders, she mentioned the fact that they had fresh Thai coconut juice available. Amy couldn’t resist and little did we know that it would actually come inside of a whole coconut. How cool! It was definitely the best coconut milk I’ve ever tasted. There was nothing sweet about it – just full-flavored nutty, richness.
And at the end of our meal, our waitress retuned with an offer to have the coconut cracked open so that we could eat the thick, tender coconut flesh with a spoon. We accepted this thoughtful offer and it returned split in half as promised. This ended up serving as a wonderful semi-sweet conclusion to the meal. By the way, they have an incredible sounding dessert menu too, but we didn’t indulge in anything from it this time.
Also, certain dishes, like the famed Tea Leaf Salad and the Ruby Rainbow Salad we ordered with this meal involve substantial labor from the server. Our waitress did a wonderful job talking through each of the nearly 20 items the dish consists of before mixing it all up and plating an individual serving in front of each of us.
I was particularly excited to finally have the chance to let Amy experience this Burmese treat I love (and talk about) so much and was thrilled to find that she did indeed love the variety of flavors and textures that found myself uncontrollably attracted to in Palo Alto. It was crispy, nutty, vinegary, spicy, oniony, and very very garlicky. This dish was just as good as I remembered and I’m so happy to now have it so close to home.
We also split an order of Palata with Chicken – another dish I fell absolutely in love with in Palo Alto. Similar to a Malaysian Roti Canai (another dish I adore), this dish comes with a dense, doughy, flaky Indian-style flatbread and a bowl of glowing orange pickled mango curry with big hunk of tender, stewed chicken sunk inside. We ordered it “medium” spicy which was actually rather mild, but still very pleasant and was bursting with complex flavor. It had an almost fruity quality that was both endearing and ridiculously delicious.
And finally, as a split entree, our waitress recommended the Country Style Beef – a Burmese curry dish that I had never gotten around to trying at the Palo Alto location. As also recommended, we also ordered a bowl of Coconut Rice to pair with the dish to soak up all of that wonderful curry broth.
The beef came in large, rectangular hunks and reminded me quite a lot of my dad’s pot roast. Though the orange glow made this dish appear like it would be quite spicy, it was actually on the mild side and had more of a homey, comforting, fragrant stew vibe than any Asian curry I’ve ever had before. It was nice, but quite a lot different than you might expect. And that rice, you’ve got to get it. It’s some of the best sticky rice I’ve found and it came fully loaded with that familiar, bold coconut flavor. It did such a nice job soaking up the curry liquid – it’s like they were made for each other.
For a few other not-to-miss dishes that are just as incredible as the versions I had back at the Palo Alto original, don’t miss the still outrageously unique and delicious Tea Leaf Salad, ridiculously delicious Shrimp Curry, and the awesomely tender but not actually that spicy Fiery Lamb Tofu. All three are truly outstanding dishes worth trying when get the opportunity.
So, there you have it. Rangoon Ruby is open on Polk and I’m beyond ecstatic. If you’re looking for me on a weeknight, there’s a good chance that’s where you’ll find me. It may be a few bucks more expensive than their more distant competitors, but for me, getting Burmese flavors in an upscale environment with this sort of convenience more than does the trick.
1608 Polk St. San Francisco, CA 94109