The Great Burmese Bites find a home at the Queens Center shopping mall

It took a lot of time and a lot of work for Myo Lin Thway to find a permanent place to sell his excellent Keema Palata – this light, chewy, freshly toasted Burmese flatbread that he seasoned and stuffed with onions, eggs and minced chicken. Take a bite, dip it in the sauce that comes with it, and you’ve got a world-class snack.

For many years, Thway only served his specialty at religious gatherings, before gradually adding a few street fairs to the mix, and then, in 2016, joining the Queens Night Market as Burmese Bites, which is quickly became one of the most popular weekly food festivals. cabins. However, he dreamed of introducing Burmese cuisine, which remains relatively rare in New York, to an even wider audience.

“I’ve wanted to bring Burmese Bites into this kind of environment for quite some time,” Thway told Gothamist last weekend. “But with the pandemic… it took me about two years to find the right place. So when the opportunity to open at Queens Center Mall presented itself, I grabbed it. I’m really proud. to be able to put Burmese Bites among the greats like McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A and Panda Express. I’m really happy. “

Burmese Bites, which is largely a family operation – on Saturday all staff were Thway, his wife Rebecca and two of their teenage sons – is located in the mall’s huge food court, vying for the attention of weary shoppers alongside some of the world’s best-known fast food brands. Thway shares the stand with fellow Queens Night Market-er C Bao, but otherwise it’s definitely kind of a David and Goliath situation here.

To attract visitors to the mall who may not already know how good their food is, Thway has expanded the Burmese Bites menu for the new venue. In addition to its signature Keema Parata mentioned above, there are four other varieties of flatbread available: Chicken Curry, Potato Curry, Plain, and a Vegan Pea Palata. Dip these relentless beauties into their various sauces and you’ll quickly feel rejuvenated, even after wandering the seemingly endless shopping halls of the mall.

Another new dish for Burmese bites is Shan Kaukswe, and it’s a great dish. Using a bunch of slippery rice noodles as a base, Thway ladles over well-seasoned chicken curry, then adds pickled mustard greens, a shiny snow pea leaf, crushed peanuts, and a large scoop of olive oil. chili in the corner just waiting to start a fire. Chicken Dum Pot, which Thway described as “Birmese Biryani,” and three varieties of rice boxes, including a curried shrimp number, round out the new main course options.

Don’t skip the sides and the salads though. The Tea Leaf Salad is superb here, the funky fermented tea leaves giving the dish its character, a mound of “mixed crunch” in fish sauce adding both texture and depth. The Burmese Tofu Salad is also pretty good, as is Thway’s foray into the French Fries Game, a box of crispy tofu triangles with a tamarind sauce. And longtime Burmese Bites fans will be relieved to learn that Thway’s Chicken and Coconut Noodle Soup, or Ohno Kaukswe, is still available as well.

Another substantial addition to the Burmese Bites experience are the drinks, which Thway couldn’t pull off at the Queens Night Market but has ample space to offer here. Most of them are more like desserts than drinks. both pudding and ice cream.

As for the general ambiance of eating in a mall … I have only been inside one of these beasts a handful of times in my life and have found the Queens Center overwhelming . But the scene is lively, and I didn’t notice a single closed or empty storefront on my long, multi-level hike from the door I entered until I finally found the food court.

“It’s been good so far,” Thway said of his first two weeks. “What is surprising is that a lot of Burmese showed up, and they are very happy for me, they are very proud. They know that it is not easy to get a place inside the center. Queen Center shopping mall, even though my place is very small and not that They want me to succeed. They are proud to see Burmese food in the mall and among the big boys. So they are really happy to support Burmese Bites and that touched me. “

Burmese Bites is located in the food court of the Queens Center Mall at 90-15 Queens Boulevard and is currently open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Close on Sunday (@burmesebites) Note: Security guards check the vax proof before you can enter the seating area.

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