Apparently the only place to get Burmese food in Boston (although Yelp inexplicably categorizes Somerville's Peruvian restaurant Macchu Picchu as Burmese as well), YoMa sits on the same block as Allston's popular vegan spots, Grasshopper and Peace o' Pie.
Burmese food incorporates elements of the more familiar cuisines of Burma's (Myanmar's) neighbors, particularly China, Thailand, and India, although we encountered some unique dishes and flavors we'd never experienced before.
We started with LaPhetThot (Tea Leaf Salad): Burmese pickled tea with sesame seeds, peanut, crispy peas & garlic, tomato, cabbage, canola oil, chili, lime & fresh garlic. This dish was unlike anything I'd seen before. Each ingredient was piled separately on the plate, surrounding a center pile of wet pickled tea leaves. There were so many different flavors and textures - crispy, spicy, crunchy, salty, fresh. It was a perfect way to start the meal: light, refreshing, and a bit intriguing. Joel also got a tamarind juice, which was sweeter and less sour than the Caribbean versions we've had.
For the main course, I got PaePyarHin: pan-fried tofu and potato cooked with tomato puree, garlic, onion, spices, and tamarind juice. While it had the appearance of a curry dish, it was thinner and milder, with lots of subtle flavors. It was served with steamed rice, although there was an optional upgrade to tasty-sounding coconut rice which I meant to order but forgot. Next time!
Joel perused the special section of the menu that contained fun-sounding items like Joyful Eggplant, Happy Chicken, and the very appealing Super Pumpkin, which, in addition to pumpkin, contained chicken and pork cooked with lemongrass, onion, cilantro, and ginger. He ended up opting for a dish similar to Super Pumpkin that had shrimp instead of chicken and pork (ShwePaYonTheeHin - Pumpkin Shrimp). It looked a lot like my dish, but the pumpkin flavor was different and wonderful.
The ambiance of the small restaurant is pleasant: giant paintings of Burma that are a bit tacky but also pretty, large colorful letters spelling out "Welcome to YoMa!" on the wall, and a little gift shop in the corner near the register. Our waitress was very friendly, and the food came out quickly.
Now that I'm in Somerville, getting out to Allston is a huge pain...but YoMa definitely merits a return trip.