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Earlier this year, Mandalay moved from College Park to downtown Silver Spring. What was College Park's loss is Silver Spring's gain. At Mandalay, you'll find some of the best Burmese food in this area. That said, I don't know of any other Burmese restaurants in this area besides Mandalay. The closest place I know of is Straits of Malaya in Adams Morgan.

This might surprise you, but before going to Mandalay, I actually did a little research about Burma, its cuisine, and history. If you look on a map, Burma (or what is now Myanmar) is located right between India, China and Thailand. This is an ethnic foodie's dream cuisine. Burma's cuisine is influenced by each country surrounding it - curries from Southern and Eastern India, noodles from China and Thailand (ok, that might be simplifying it a bit). Mandalay is actually a city in Central Burma. Blah, blah, blah. Enough with the geography lesson. Get on with it!

Well, last Saturday night, Amy and I went to try Mandalay's new location in Silver Spring. When we drove up, the area was not quite what I expected. Bonifant St. is partly residential and partly commercial. Mandalay's façade makes it look like it is an everyday Chinese $7 buffet. On the inside, it doesn't look much different except there is no buffet. Of course for foodies, these things don't matter. It's all about the food. Right?

We were sat quickly - there was no wait. The table next too us looked very satisfied with their meal. There were four people sitting there all of them talking about how they wanted to come back and rubbing their stomachs. Amy and I were enthused by the sight. Not that I needed to see that. Looking at Mandalay's menu online, I was very excited to eat there. The list of salads alone made my mouth water, nevermind entrees like WetThar MoteNyinChin Gyaw (Sliced pork sautéed with onion, sour mustard, and fresh cilantro) or KyetThar KyetHinGarThee Gyaw (Chicken sautéed with bitter melon and onion).

It took a little while for someone to come over and acknowledge us, but that was the only service hiccup the whole meal. The servers were all very friendly and attentive. We were handed the menu, but I already knew what I was planning on ordering. I had planned to start with the Let Phet Thoke (green tealeaf salad) and have KyetThar PinSane/NanNanBin Hin (chicken chunks simmered in onion-tomato curry with basil or cilantro) as and entrée. (I'm not sure what's up with the "/" in the name on the menu. Does the dish have two different names? Guess I should have asked.) Amy took a while to decide what she wanted because she had not previewed the menu ahead of time. Her initial comment was that the menu was large but that most of the dishes were a variation on the same thing. She ended up having the BooThee gyaw (squash fritters) and Nyat KaukSwe Gyaw (flat rice noodles stir-fried with yellow beans, bean sprouts, romaine hearts, crushed peanuts, and lightly fried tofu).

Before I tell you how the food was, I first should say that Mandalay has yet to acquire their liquor license. I kind of knew that this was a possibility before we went there, but I was hoping that they'd received it by the time I'd gotten around to visiting them. Oh well - like I need any more alcohol. Instead I had some hot tea because I've been coming down with something for the last week. The waiter brought me a teapot filled with fresh loose-leaf green tea. It was perfect for my sore throat.

The appetizers didn't take long to come out. With tomatoes, toasted yellow peas, cashews, cabbage, fermented tea leaf, sesame seeds, puffed rice, and Burmese dressing, my green tealeaf salad had a pretty complex flavor to it,. The salad had an overall bitter flavor with a sweet aftertaste. Amy's squash fritters were lightly battered and served with a sauce on the side. The sauce tasted like a combination of soy sauce, sesame seeds and chili oil. Imagine the vegetable tempura that you would get at a Thai restaurant with a slightly thicker layer of breading. Cooked just right, the squash was not mushy and had a firm texture.

We quickly finished our appetizers and our entrees came out soon after. When we ordered out entrees, the waiter asked us how hot we wanted them. Both Amy and I opted for a medium spiciness, but as it turned out, we both could have handled some more heat. When visiting at a new restaurant, you never know how that restaurant will define "spicy". My chicken in tomato-onion curry had a real hearty, comfort-food flavor to it. I don't think I could have had a more perfect dish for my looming cold. There was no dry overcooked chicken in this dish, although they use dark meat in the dish which almost always means you'll get a little gristle. With peanuts, wide rice noodles, yellow peas and fried tofu, Amy's entrée reminded her of a Thai dish. A bite of this dish started with an initial sweetness and ended with a touch of heat.

We quickly finished off our entrees and we ready to move on to dessert. We had seen another table eating the ShweJi (Cream of wheat, coconut cream, sugar, raisins, and milk, topped with poppy seeds, then baked until light golden brown). According to Amy, it tasted "like a macaroon". It had a firm texture like a cake. Overall, this dessert was pretty good. Amy liked it a lot...probably more than I.

At about $32, I would say this was probably one of the cheaper meals we've eaten in a long time. I would say the food was well worth it, despite the lack of atmosphere. Sometimes, though, you just want to go out for a casual meal and be able to get great food at the same time. It's probably too early to tell, but I'd say that Mandalay is just as good as Straits of Malaya, except it's considerably cheaper.

930 Bonifant
Silver Spring, MD. 20910
(301) 585-0500

Monday-Thursday 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday 11:30 am - 10:30 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm
(Closed 3:00 pm - 5:00pm Every Day)

Dress Code: Casual
Reservations: Not Accepted
Parking lot on location and on street

See what other people have said about Mandalay:



in case you want to try more burmese food, there's a restaurant called "burma" by the MCI center (on 6th somewhere between E and G streets). it's pretty good, and more hold-in-the wall than straits, but i've only been for lunch.


Awesome. I was not aware there was another Burmese restaurant in the area.


HA! Just got the weekly entertainment section from the Washington Post. Are you and Tom pacing each other, or what? Looks like he went recently as well. Jason, my friend... keep up the good work!


Interesting. I haven't had a chance to read it yet...

It's really unintentional. I had no idea he was planning to post a review this week. I thought the post had already reviewed Mandalay.


Went there tonight and had the Thursday chicken special with coconut rice- well worth it...make sure to have it spicy! Also had the tea leaf salad you had- I really liked it- made me think of blue cheese but I guess that's what the "fermented" is about. Thanks, Jason for this site - I read it all the time.


This restaurant was recommended to me by the owner of a bookstore two doors down. She said it was always crowded. I was quite pleased with the results because I had no idea what Burmese food would taste like.

The waiter was friendly and very helpful when he took my order.

I ordered my entree with medium spiciness but could have used the "very spicy" as it did not seem like a "picante" dish to me. When looking at the meal itself, the quantity seemed just about right, but, when I was done, I was stuffed! I had ordered 1/2 an appetizer (KaYann Thee Gyaw/Eggplant Fritters) which I shared with my friend and KyetThar PinSane/NaNanBin Hin (chicken chunks simmered in onion-tomato curry with basil or cilantro) that was served with rice. I enjoyed the YayNway Gyan (hand picked green tea from the Myanmar Mountains) that was served very hot. No room for desert this time!

For a shared appetizer, one beverage and two entrees, my friend and I split the bill of $27 (food, tax, tip). It was a great meal and I'm sure I'll be bringing more people to enjoy Burmese food here.


I live down the street from Mandalay and eat there about once a week - as it gotten more and more crowded, the service has been on a steep decline. They could stand to hire some more wait staff. I actually think Burma near MCI center is better food and a more interesting selection but its like picking between your 2 favorite ice creams.

Also - they run out of that Thurs night special pretty quick - so get there early. I was there at 7:30 last night - already gone!


This was my second visit to the Mandalay in silver spring after about a year.I am sorry to say but the food quality was not the same.The CH 10 and SF 03 dish we ordered both had a lot of spice,not the chilli spice,but just way too concentrated curry,if you know what i mean!Also they dont allow you to sit at a table till all members of the party arrive,in our case on friend was parking the car,so we all had to wait at the door till he came in,while other parties got seated before us,i thought this was weird and rude!Also never go here after 9 pm. They are in a rush to close at 10 pm.and most often are rude with their services,including banging the plate right back before you when we interrupted the guy from picking up my friends unfinished plate.


This was also our second visit to Mandalay, we were there in April 2007. Both times the service was poor and we had a hard time communicating 'hot'. Both times the food was almost spiceless. Be careful of the drinks. I had a pretty weak Cosmopolitan that I drank anyway, but was shocked when I got the bill and saw the drink was $9. When I talked to the disinterested manager about the spiceless food and weak drink, he blandly replied I should have mentioned it when it was delivered. If you want good customer service, don't go to Mandalay. There are a lot of good ethnic restaurants in the Silver Spring area, this isn't one I'd recommend.

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