Larkin Express

Here's probably the shortest write-up you'll ever see on tablehopper. I was out for lunch with a chef pal (we were hunting down some eats at a couple ethnic joints) and he brought me to this total hole in the wall. What appears to be just another random shabby Tenderloin deli is actually home to some very authentic Burmese cuisine as well. I heart places like this--you feel like you're in on a secret.

Walking into ~LARKIN EXPRESS~, you'd think all you can get are roast beef sandwiches or a roast turkey sando or hamburgers, which actually look quite delicious, but the Burmese dishes we tried were good enough to make me want to come back again to try more.

Of course we ordered the la pat dok (tea leaf salad/$5.95)--the flavor of this was quite intense, and I've heard the owner gets his tea leaves from a very special source, so they are quite likely the best in town. Sadly there were some tragically out-of-season tomatoes tossed in the mix, and it was a bit oily, but the flavor combination of the dried shrimp, fried garlic, yellow split peas, sesame seeds, peanuts, and lettuce was downright magic.

Also loved our piping hot bowl of moh hinga (fish chowder/$5.50), a thick soup (almost a porridge, really) with rice noodles and a satisfying crunch of fried split peas on top. I want this on my next foggy night. Supposedly the kau swer dok (noodle salad/$5.50) with chicken or dried shrimp is really popular. There are at least 15 more dishes available, from pork meatballs to Burmese bean curd.

Fish cake with special sauce ($7.50) didn't really rock my house, but the mystery sour greens with shrimp were delish. Why mystery? Because I can't for the life of me remember what the greens were (guess who doesn't have her notebook with her while writing this piece, bad girl). Anyway, if you're into tangy greens, ask for the sour leaves since they weren't on the menu. I've also forgotten the name of an awesome (and pungent) shrimp condiment we tried, with garlic and onion and a little kick to it--good addition to some dishes.

If you're not leery of dives, check it out. The owner, Dennis, is about as nice as they come, so don't hesitate to ask him any questions. He owns another restaurant, the Tennessee Grill out in the Avenues that serves classic American dishes. He works a lot. Which is another reason why I'd like to support this place. Checkity check it!

Larkin Express
452 Larkin St.
Cross: Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


Mon-Fri 10am-4pm

Entrées $5.50-$7.50

This place is now closed.

452 Larkin St. San Francisco
(at Turk St.)