You can stumble across extraordinary food just about anywhere in Brooklyn, from a literal hole in the wall in Crown Heights, to a Walgreens parking lot in Mill Basin.And in Bushwick, your best bet is to try poking around into dive bars, where you’ll find Sichuan-inspired burgers and chicken wings cooked in a shack in the front yard of The Johnson’s and–just a short ways down Troutman Street–an array of Burmese noodle bowls, prepared on hot plates in a corner of The Bodega.
That said, you’ll only locate the latter sporadically, as it’s a Wednesday pop-up taking place from 6-11pm–or until the noodles run out–a not uncommon occurrence, considering it’s one of the few spots in the borough where you can sample the spectacularly diverse fare of Myanmar. Though being under the sole supervision of native Myo Moe, the transient Rangoon NoodleLab smartly narrows its focus, crafting five different dishes around Southeast Asian pasta, from salads to stir-fries to soups.
A cold conglomerate of Let Thoke Sone (“translated to hand-tossed everything”) forgoes vegetables for a quadruple dose of carbs, including wheat and mung bean noodles, needles of translucent rice vermicelli, and tidbits of potato, slicked with a dressing of turmeric garlic oil and sticky-sweet streaks of tamarind. And even at the height of summer, it’s worth sweating it out for Ohn-no-Khaut Swe, a curried coconut broth with a coil of wobbly mung bean noodles at its base, accessorized with chunks of poached chicken breast, a snowy twist of quickly dissolving rice cracker, and a half of a hardboiled egg.
Of a trio of stir-fries, the top-seller seems to be Pork Belly Meeshay–or its vegan version, equipped with honeycombed cubes of compressed tofu–each sporting a nest of rice noodles meant to be vigorously mixed with chopsticks, in order to saturate each strand with fermented black bean sauce, spicy peanut oil and petals of pickled mustard. It’s classic Myanmar, although the country’s Chinese influence is deeply felt in a bowl of Beef Shan (reminiscent of Zha Jiang Mian), stretchy egg noodles immersed in a minced meat and tomato based sauce, faintly humming with chilies.
Too bad Rangoon NoodleLab is a blink-and-you’ll-miss it experience: stop by The Bodega on Thursday, and you’ll likely find patrons chowing down on Chicago-style sandwiches from 2nd City, or on Tuesday, grazing on charcuterie, playing bingo and nursing beers. But that’s one of the very best things about living in Brooklyn: you’re bound to discover incredible and unexpected eats around each and every bend.
The Bodega: 24 St Nicholas Ave., (347) 305-3344, Bushwick