There is plenty of Vietnamese food in the Tenderloin, but Burmese food has been in short supply after Burmese Kitchen on Larkin Street moved to the Inner Richmond. That’s no longer the case now that William Lue of Grocery Café in East Oakland has opened Tender Loving Food at the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth, directly opposite the Tenderloin Museum. If chicken noodle soup is meant to restore ailing bodies to health, then this coconut chicken noodle chowder works double to keep you staying strong on foul, windy April days.
[jump] But you’ll enjoy it only if you can find it. The awning of 393 Eddy Street, which uses a color scheme reminiscent of the Mexican flag, indicates it’s a shawarma shop called Pesba’s Fish & Chicken. And once you’re inside, it’s not exactly the world’s warmest ambience. On my second visit, the lights weren’t even on until midway through my order. There’s a table pushed against an unplugged soda fridge, and somehow — in spite of being a new restaurants — a plant in an elephant planter is already dying.
So it’s a takeout place, and that’s fine. The menu is small, mostly consisting of things like vegetable samosas, oxtail kabocha — sadly unavailable on either visit — and a Burmese ginger salad. I wasn’t hugely impressed with a salty, unbalanced Burmese tea leaf salad ($6 for a small, $9 for a large) whose pickled tea leaves had the texture of overcooked collards and which needed an extra jolt of citrus. (Let’s face it: Burma Superstar has a lock on best tea leaf salad.) But the oho-no-kauk-swe, or coconut chicken noodle chowder, was creamy and hearty, closer to a gravy than a curry broth, with an adroit mix of spices and well-cooked noodles. Don’t be surprised that there aren’t slices of chicken breast in here; it’s in the soup. But the fact that you don’t need it at all speaks volumes.
Tender Loving Food, 393 Eddy St., 925-566-4877 or tenderlovingfood.com