Yamo, San Francisco

Green Papaya Salad

Yamo House Noodles with Beef


Fish Curry


Enjoying taste without needing discussion

Burmese food is understated. Most eaters wouldn’t give it a second thought. In San Francisco, a visit wouldn’t be complete without trying one of its many Burmese restaurants.  The melding of what we know of Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese flavors is just the uniqueness of Burmese cuisine.

In San Francisco, the Mission District has melded and morphed. What was once mostly Chinese, is now mostly Latino, and also filled with hipster bakeries, pizza parlors, and Yamo, the nine seated diner that serves Burmese cooking. The line out the door indicates at least a 45 minute wait as you watch three women slice, cut, fry, and stir. The aroma of the oil makes you even more hungry as you stare at eaters impatiently. The small space makes me wonder if they just converted a GMC Suburban into a restaurant. A person would walk right past thinking it was some hole in the wall diner serving eggs and toast, or a small taco stand.

My advice to you, Eater, is to come to Yamo with an open mind, patience, cash, and only one other person. This is not a place to catch up and linger, but to attempt to appreciate the bare bones of what an eatery is. The chef puts heart and soul into cooking. You, the Eater, enjoy and savor each bite. Yamo’s flavors are immediate – there is no need to ponder the details, technique, or ingredients. It’s right there in front of you as you watched the preparation and it came straight to your plate. You eat, then you leave having filled up with on flavors and textures.  This is how eating in many countries is done. There are no fancy designs, no techniques or long descriptions. The only amount of service equates to getting a cold can of soda with a draw or refills of water.

The House Noodles have an indulgent and enjoyable oily coating that matches well with the beef. The flavored beef is soft and tender- I think it must be the softest beef I’ve ever had. The sweetness of the dish combined with the crunchy shallots and cilantro match well with the oily noodles. My co diner still talks about how amazing the beef was and despite the bad connotations of oily noodles, I would order it again every time.

Because of the heaviness of the noodles, I recommend a salad. The green papaya salad is perfectly pickled and tossed. The crunchy vegetables and papaya are the exact opposite of the House Noodles, making it the perfect companion. The shallots add another level of crunchiness, giving your teeth and tongue multi levels of flavor and texture. It is more on the sweet side, with a bit of citrus to give it a tangy aftertaste. The added pepper gives a slight spiciness. The other customer favorite is the tea leaf salad, which I can’t eat since it contains peanuts.

The image of the fish curry above looks like your normal Chinese fast food stir fry- but hidden are unsuspecting flavor of cumin and curry. It tastes like a yummy curry, but without the heaviness associated with Indian and Thai curry. The fried fish makes a little overboard for me, but I would pick a different protein next time.

As food eaters and reviewers, we are often focused on the details, intricate methods, and service of restaurants to satisfy our own expectations. Yamo instead satisfies the basic need and basic reason why we even go out to eat. A unique taste, without anything else added.


3406 18th Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

For Take Out:  (415)553-8911

Yamo on Urbanspoon


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