Is D.C. salad heaven? We’re the birthplace of Sweetgreen and Cava (which is basically a salad, let’s be real). We’re the land of fast casual. No one loves a power lunch more than we do. Combine all of those together and you have a recipe for an overabundance of salads that makes then entire genre feel especially boring. In a city so jam packed with salad options, it’s hard to care about one more. Burgers? Pizza? Tacos? Those are easy to get excited about. Salads are a sad thing you eat when you look back on your week and realize you haven’t eaten a single vegetable that wasn’t paired with cheese and bread.
And yet, Bandoola Bowl is an exception to the rule. Their Burmese salads bring something entirely new to D.C.’s salad oeuvre, but even more importantly, they’re damn good. Owned by Aung Myint, who has also been running Silver Spring’s Mandalay for almost two decades, Bandoola Bowl isn’t trying to reinvent the salad. Their bowls pull from the flavors and proteins that are popular at Mandalay, but with a more casual spin. It’s simple enough to be refreshing, but interesting enough you would never think to make it at home (if you even had all the right ingredients to make it at home).
Of the two we tried, our favorite was the pork salad. Made with succulent roasted pork, red onions, cherry tomatoes, slivers of red pepper, crispy garlic, fried shallots, a drop of lime and a dash of cilantro on a bed of shredded cabbage and romaine, it’s a truly delightful combination of tastes and textures. The sweet soya dressing is worth mopping up with Bandoola’s mini naan-esque breads. If you’re a vegetarian, their seasonal mango salad made with fresh green mango might just be worth the trek to Georgetown.
Which brings us to the hard part. Bandoola is in one of the hardest (and most annoying) neighborhoods to travel to in the city. As I downed bites of salad, Myint explained that he chose Georgetown not only because of its foot traffic, but that he’d noticed a sore lack of casual Asian lunch spots in the neighborhood. On top of that, he had plenty of fond memories of visiting Georgetown with his family when he was a kid growing up in Silver Spring.
Whatever the reason, I’ll be dreaming of Burmese salads (and their sweet semolina cake dessert) until the next time I’m that far NW.
Bandoola Bowl is at 1069 Wisconsin Avenue NW. Their opening day is Tuesday, April 23.