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Best Unconventional Salads 

Burma Superstar

For most people, salads aren't the first thing that come to mind when thinking of Asian food, but then again, most people in this country aren't very familiar with the cuisine of Burma. Fortunately, it's easy to rectify that situation by heading over to one of Burma Superstar's two East Bay locations. The sleek, uber-trendy eateries put out a variety of tasty curries and noodle dishes, but their salads — well, their salads might fundamentally change the way you think of salad. Case in point, the restaurant's Tea Leaf Salad is a revelation of contrasting textures and flavors that meld together into a pleasing whole — there's the crunch of split yellow peas, sunflower seeds, and fried garlic; the wholesomeness of freshly chopped tomatoes and lettuce; the smokiness of dried shrimp powder; and, tying everything together, the pungency of the fermented tea leaves. Burma Superstar's menu declares that members of the restaurant's staff actually do travel all the way to Burma to buy the pickled tea leaves that are its sine-qua-non component. It's like no other salad you've had before, prepared by servers at the table rather like a Caesar salad. Nearly as mind-blowing is the Rainbow Salad, a dish that boasts 22 different ingredients, including four types of noodles, tofu, green papaya, and a tamarind dressing — all bright, bright flavors. The restaurants are a bit of an "it" spot for hip twentysomethings, so go early (or for lunch) to avoid the crowds.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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