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Food & Drink: Adding Burmese cuisine to Buffalo's dining resume

The official statistics suggest the City of Buffalo is now more than 3% Burmese. Among the 8,000 or so that have arrived in Buffalo have been plenty of people with restaurant experience, resulting in a Burmese boomlet in the restaurant business.

In this week's restaurant review, I write about Lin Restaurant, my favorite among the 15 places now serving Burmese food here. It's a consistent, underrated culinary experience, quietly becoming a family favorite.

I do mean quiet. You could hear a spoon drop. I hope all of the readers who have written to complain about their abandonment of restaurant-going due to uncomfortable noise make note: Lin is hushed as a library.

Give it a read next week, as the review is still being written. In the meantime, bone up on your Burmese basics with this primer to the most often sighted dishes. If you haven't even tried the coconut chicken noodle soup called owno koksware, you are missing out on a peak Buffalo pleasure. Vegetarians and vegans should have met tea leaf salad, le peth thoat, by now, unless they hate crunchy deliciousness.

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DINING REVIEW

At Rust Belt, value dining in a time-honored spot: The building got its start as an Italian restaurant that doubled as a roominghouse for steelworkers at the great factories down the street, then ended up in Vincent Gallo's "Buffalo 66." Today its claim to fame is value dining, just a little nicer than you might expect.

Next week: Whole fried fish with Burmese lime-chile sauce, aromatic fried rice wrapped in an omelet, and a rousing green papaya salad are among the standout dishes at the aforementioned Riverside's Lin Restaurant.

HOT DISH

Beef on weck pizza can be frankly dreadful, but the freshly roasted beef that Brick Oven Bistro uses works with the potent horseradish aioli and Swiss cheese to stand out among its creative pizza offerings.

RESTAURANT'S #METOO MOMENT

The federal anti-discrimination police filed a lawsuit accusing Protocol restaurant owner Paul Pelczynski of sexual harassment, including grabbing, kissing, propositioning, and pornography exposure, plus cutting hours and prime shifts of women who resisted. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rarely takes to court in such fashion, filing suits in roughly one out of every 500 complaints it recorded in 2018. When deciding which suits to bring, the agency considers “a variety of factors, like whether the conduct is systemic in nature,” EEOC attorney Elizabeth Fox-Solomon said. The suit presents allegations from at least four women. Pelczynski's attorney called the allegations vague and promised a vigorous defense in court.

GET MOM JACKED

Two Tim Hortons locations, in East Amherst and Hamburg, will power Mother's Day with free 52-ounce iced coffees for all moms who celebrate.

OPENINGS & CLOSINGS

A reader reports the Bocce Pizza outlet on Transit Road has closed, and phone inquiries went unanswered. Original Bocce's Pizza was operated at 8214 Transit Road, Amherst by Frank Sacco, cousin of Bocce Club owner Jim Pacciotti. Regarding other Bocce inquiries, what's going on with Pacciotti's plans to reopen Bocce in Buffalo? Wish I knew. I've been unable to get an update.

Beats me why restaurant names must suffer so, but SZND is the name of the new place open just off Hertel Avenue. Andrew Gill is offering dishes like housemade fettucine ($20), sauced carbonara style, with with peas and pork belly; spring hummus ($12), with lavash, Flat 12 mushrooms, and gremolata; fried wontons ($12) stuffed with Korean hot chicken and kimchi with chile aioli, and charred leeks ($12) topped with tiger shrimp, lemongrass oil, and marcona almonds.

The Halal Guys outlet in Amherst's Boulevard Consumer Square soft-opened earlier this week, for an official opening today.

CHOW REPORTS

Besides coffee strong enough to raise the dead, Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery, built into a former funeral home, has a lively spread of sandwiches and such. Dan Almasi enjoyed inventive sandwiches named after local luminaries, like the Rick James ($12), with turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, spicy honey coleslaw, potato chip crumbles, and 1,000 Island dressing on a toasted rye club.

The formerly seriously blue-collar Malamute became snazzy-cool Ballyhoo, and sausage lovers and cocktail fans have made the Cobblestone-adjacent spot a regular on their rounds.

MORE RESTAURANT INTEL

The former Joe's Deli Elmwood spot is becoming a pasta-centric dinner-only restaurant. Michael Gibney, and his parents Michael Sr. and Mary Ann, are working on opening Inizio at 534 Elmwood Ave.

The Buffalo food truck boom has slowed, but new entrants are still making them the vehicles in which to chase their culinary dreams. Ben Tsujimoto plumbs the dreams behind Mad Sauces, Caribbean Flava, MooCheesy, and The Great Aussie Bite. Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkinville is still a main stage, but here's six more food truck events throughout the week. There's even one at Fantasy Island.

Thin Man Brewery, fresh off inaugurating its hugely expanded Chandler Street brewing facility, is opening its first suburban suds site. Taking over a side room at Brennan's Bowery Bar in Clarence, owned by the family of Thin Man honcho Mike Shatzel, it should be pouring by mid-June.

Sinatra & Company Real Estate got its city permissions to redo the former Casa-Di-Pizza at 471 Elmwood Ave. for use as a Duff's Famous Wings location, including green-lighting a wraparound outdoor seating area.

EATS & DRINKS LINKS

Farm to Pint Week, a celebration of local beer and the malters, farmers, and hop growers who produce its raw ingredients will stretch from Saturday to May 18, with events from Batavia to Buffalo. Get all the details here.

During Porchfest, May 18, The Place will have a smoked pig and Workingman's Dead. ($5 cover)

Tommyrotter Distillery's Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin received the coveted Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

"No crybabies allowed," the sign in the window of Lawrences says, and the owner of the Springville neighborhood bar, still going strong after 80 years, wouldn't change a thing.

Taste of Tanzania, a fundraiser for an African girls school, is Monday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave. Tickets, $30 to $100, available here.

The Draft Room, 79 Perry St., is offering a barbecue-and-beer pairing dinner May 22. Tickets are $40, plus tax and tip. Included among the five courses are smoked wings and smoked S'mores.

READERS ASK

Q: Last week, when I called my mother's favorite restaurant to make reservations for our Mother's Day dinner, the woman who answered the phone told me that I would need to give her a credit card number to hold a table for six people. The credit card was so the restaurant could charge me if I did not show up. How insulting. I'm never going back.

A: Whoa, there. Mother's Day is the most-booked restaurant reservation of the year, surpassing even Valentine's Day. Restaurants that want to stay in business in this challenging economic climate -- so they may serve you in the future -- have to make the most of the big-dollar days. You're being slightly inconvenienced for the sins of others, certainly, but you live among people willing to make multiple reservations at different restaurants and not show up, without a timely cancellation, heedless of its impact on the restaurant and its staff. You may wish to reconsider that position.

(Tell me what else restaurants are doing wrong at agalarneau@buffnews.com)