Located in the Richmond District of San Francisco, B Star is a neighborhood restaurant with a laid-back atmosphere and a menu full of bold Asian flavors. The restaurant is a spin-off of the popular Burma Superstar restaurant, which is located on the same block and serves authentic Burmese cuisine. While B Star’s menu also incorporates Burmese flavors, its chefs take influence from other Asian cuisines, including Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Filipino, as well as classic Californian cuisine.
Owner Joycelyn Lee opened B Star as a way to expand on Burma Superstar. Burma Superstar frequently sees long lines and wait times, and B Star was a way to catch the overflow of customers. Now, B Star has evolved into a restaurant with its own personality and character.
“We wanted to give each ourselves a space to experiment with different types of cuisines,” Lee says. “B Star has been a way to move with what we’ve been interested in and with what resonates with us.”
B Star’s menu has evolved over time, often incorporating popular items from the staff’s family meals. One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is their jook, or rice porridge. They initially served this dish to their staff during a period of particularly cold weather in San Francisco as a way of helping them warm up. It was so beloved that jook is now on B Star’s menu.
Another example of staff influencing the menu is B Star’s take on Japanese ochazuke. “We had a Japanese staffer who was craving her culture’s hangover food, which is typically made by opening the fridge and mixing whatever is available with some fish and green tea,” Lee explains. “So we experimented with this idea and jazzed it up and made our own version of ochazuke, inspired by the traditional idea.”
B Star consistently offers excellent vegetarian and vegan options to cater to different dietary preferences. Lee takes inspiration from both the positive health benefits and the social benefits of eating vegetarian. In fact, many of the menu’s most popular items—like the firecracker cauliflower, tea leaf salad, and roasted curry vegetable quinoa—are vegetarian. B Star also offers gluten-free options.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, B Star faced the challenge of laying off staff without much certainty about how things would progress. Although B Star closed completely at the beginning of the shelter in place order, they have recently been able to rehire a portion of the staff and offer takeout and delivery for dinner from Thursday to Sunday. “As an owner, I feel it is my responsibility to find new business opportunities,” says Lee. “The point is to explore all potential avenues and remain flexible.”
There are many ways that B Star is engaging with the community during this challenging time. “We submitted multiple bids to government-sponsored meal programs that feed our neighbors in need, and we proposed food partnerships with neighboring bars as a way for them to open for business,” Lee discusses. In addition to the takeout and delivery menu, B Star is also running their very own General Store. Customers can buy goods like wine, sake, beer, Sriracha, Vietnamese coffee, face masks, and more. The restaurant is responsible for the Burma Superstar Roundtable Fund, which supports workers from all of Burma Superstar’s sister restaurants during this challenging time.