Nestled in between a corner liquor store and Lily’s Beauty Salon rests a tiny hole in the wall with metal grates on the windows and a small doorway, exposing a diner style kitchen and just a row of bar stools to sit on. Most people walking by don’t expect much, or even see it at all, like me. But on a rare sunny day in the city, my friends Sugi, Julio, Melissa and her daughter, Sol, met up to have a lunch date.
This tiny restaurant is where we met. This tiny place called Yamo.
Melissa and Sugi swear by it, and confessed to me that they eat here about twice a week. When I peered inside, I saw every bar stool occupied and a line of customers against the wall.
Because folks, I gotta tell you, Yamo is a gem. A hidden treasure in a city of great eats. Its greasy, its casual, and its cheap. It’s what I imagine real Burmese street food to taste like.
The five of us, we got down.
Two orders of Pot Stickers; filled with pork, cabbage, and carrots
An order of Vegetarian Egg Rolls (not pictured because we ate them too quickly)
An order of Mango Chicken on a bed of Steamed Rice
Yamo House Noodles topped with fried garlic and chicken
And Curry Prawns and Mushroom, Onions, and Green Peppers (again, sadly not photographed due to rapid consumption).
All for $30. What a deal.
The women cooking could’ve smoked any competitor on The Food Networks Chopped, that’s how fast they were. Seriously, I think we only had to wait a matter of minutes. The joint was too packed to eat inside, plus it was gorgeous out, so we grabbed a pile of napkins and chopsticks and we walked a few blocks to a children’s park so Sol, whose 2 1/2, could play.
We found a couple of benches, situated ourselves, popped the lids off the to-go containers and feasted.
The food was SO good.
The Pot Stickers had a nice outer crisp but still had chewy dough in some places, and the sauce for them. HOLY CRAP. It wasn’t just your typical sweet chili sauce. It was a thinner spicier version with chopped up fresh ginger. It was to die for.
The Egg Rolls, were pretty amazing, nice crisp and flakey with tons of vegetables. In case you were wondering, yeah, we used the pot sticker sauce on them too. Duh!
Julio tried to commandeer the mango chicken, but after a few dirty looks from 3 ladies and a baby, he shared. The first bite explained why he was hesitant to share. It was fantastic! The chicken was moist, the mango sweet, and the vegetables (sugar snap peas and water crescents among the lot) were still super crunchy, which is vital!
The curry shrimp was Sol’s favorite, little darling was stuffing whole shrimps in her mouth only after realizing they were too big, thus forcing me to fish it out and hold it while she took modest nibbles. The curry was more like a light glaze as opposed to the typical thicker version, but on a hot day, it was perfect in not weighing us down.
Now, on to those Yamo House Noodles. Wow. Just wow. The fried garlic. The Fried Garlic. THE FRIED GARLIC.
It was so crunchy, but still so pungent and fresh. It was just phenomenal. The noodles were thick, albeit a little greasy, and the chicken plentiful, there was also a generous sprinkling of green onion on top, which, if you didn’t know, is one of my favorite onions and methods of adding some extra freshness to a dish.
When we were all finished we all acted like children, playing house on the jungle gym, running around and screaming, and making friends with other little kids. Sol was THRILLED. Especially when I let her try on my lipstick, so we could play grown ups.
We finished our outing with a cold treat from the ice cream man
Thank God Sol let me get in on this Neapolitan ice cream sandwich, which was also delicious.
Basically, if you’re in the Mission, go to Yamo for a great meal. Or, if you’re not in the Mission, head over to the Mission, for a cheap, amazing meal at Yamo.