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What We Ate This Week: A ‘Baja’-Style Fried Chicken Sandwich, Limit 20

11:43 AM PDT on June 28, 2019

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]urmese food might be the next wave to take off in L.A. There are few to no chefs who specialize in Burmese cuisine, and that’s something Matthew Kyin wants to correct with his pop-up Myanmar 101. He told L.A. Taco that he wants to introduce L.A. to Burmese culture “and food is the best way to introduce culture.”

That idea is boiled down in a Burmese "taco," which Myanmar 101 debuted at our member-only tasting (sign up and support my writing habit!) with Goat Mafia this past weekend. Also this week, a fried chicken sandwich ... Baja-style?

Chef Matthew Kyin prepares his Burmese taco at our members tasting. (Photo by Erwin Recinos)

The Burmese Taco

An act of synthesis through food, this taco is a showcase of the Burmese flavor palate in the form of the taco. It uses a paratha as the tortilla, which is a like a croissant pita. The protein is a curried beef topped a Burmese slaw and pico de gallo. The taco is topped with a chili sauce made from chopped Thai chiles, fish sauce, and lime.

Kyin explains that he got inspiration for the dish from the time he spent in Burma. Traditionally, the paratha is torn and used as a carb supplement or a tool to soak up all the juices, which is more or less another use for a tortilla. The dish feels like an act of language translation. The flavors are not so unfamiliar to the Angeleno diet of Asian and Latin American flavors most of us grew up eating.

The spices and paratha comes from Indian influences. A similar chili sauce can be seen tableside at a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant. And the pico de gallo is basically a Mexican salad.

RELATED: Where to Find Comfort Foods From 'The World's Most Persecuted' Minority ~ Halal Burmese in Inglewood

The Baja Fried Chicken Sandwich made a limited appearance at Sara's Market in City Terrace. (Photo by Cesar Hernandez)

Baja Fried Chicken Sandwich

Chef Ted Montoya of Eat Rad Taco announced that he was serving up a Baja fried chicken sandwich at Sara’s Market. But only 20 sandwiches would be sold. So I drove like a madman from El Segundo to East Los Angeles in rush hour in the middle of the week to try it.

The rush was worth the reward. Montoya's sandwich has all the elements of a Baja fish taco. It starts with a toasted bun with a lime crema. Montoya adds a slaw, big-ass tomato wedge, and a beer-battered chicken cutlet. He tops it with salsa macha, and a few shots of Valentina (the Pepsi of Tapatio). The acidity of the crema is a nice touch that stays throughout the entire sandwich but the crunch of the chicken is the star, a starchy and airy crust that leaves a slightly stringent feel on the teeth.

You might find some other wet-battered fried chicken around L.A., like Tennessee all-star Gus’s or the SNCC food truck. But both spots use batters create a thin delicate crust. Montoya’s sandwich has more of a bubblier crust, which is probably from the yeast in beer batter.

I hope Montoya releases this sandwich again, and next time, makes 20 just for me.

RELATED: Angel's Tijuana Tacos Is a Slice of Baja California in North Hollywood

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