Fidelity

A Burmese Kitchen That Combines Fidelity and Freedom

Rangoon, a Burmese restaurant that opened in Brooklyn this year just in time for the pandemic, is not precisely the place that its owners, Myo Moe and Daniel Bendjy, envisioned. Still, you should go.

Ms. Moe, the chef, would build her plates with more contrast and complexity if the world weren’t upside down. The rice noodles she serves in a spicy, salty, dark sauce of fermented black beans should be fatter, she says, but supply disruptions have forced her to settle for a narrower gauge. Try them anyway, along with the tea-leaf salad, even though the lotus root it should contain isn’t always available.

Takeout and delivery have kept Rangoon afloat since March, when the restaurant had to close its dining room while it was still in soft-opening mode. A number of dishes have been stripped down, made simpler and sturdier so they can be packed in disposable containers. Order them nevertheless.

For those whose mind wanders during Zoom meetings to thoughts of getting lost in the scent of lemongrass rising from the steam on a bowl of mohinga, the city can be a frustrating place, seemingly incapable of sustaining more than one or two Burmese restaurants at a time. The scarcity of the cuisine alone should make Rangoon a compelling destination, but it would be an exciting one even if tea-leaf salad were as common here as Jamaican beef patties.

Ms. Moe, who grew up in Myanmar, interprets the country’s cuisine with a blend of fidelity and freedom that seems new to the city. She doesn’t turn the knobs all the way up on fermented flavors, chile heat, pork fat and other intensifiers in an effort to to be heard over New York’s background noise, the way some chefs do. Instead she emphasizes the subtlety and freshness that Burmese

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