I will start this blog with a disclaimer. I have never tried Burmese cuisine before so have no clue what it tastes like, should taste like or how authentic the food is at Lahpet. I will, however, applaud Team Lahpet for successfully introducing Burmese food to us hungry Londoners. And when you find out that the founder Dan Anton and Head Chef Zaw Mahesh (who are of Burmese heritage) are at the helm of things, you have to trust they know what they are doing.
Lahpet has had quite a journey, starting as a stall in Maltby Street, then Hackney and currently in Old Spitalfields Market. But this new place is their first permanent bricks and mortar site serving their delicious food. Lucky us!
The new restaurant is located in Shoreditch, in a site formerly occupied by Tapas Revolution. The interiors are lovely and subtle. There is a freshness to the scheme with the use of light, natural materials such as bamboo, accents of green through potted and overflowing plants and warm, light wood tabletops. To contrast the mostly neutral, organic scheme, there are bursts of metallic copper used in the bar and blush pink seats. To chime with the cuisine, pale grey walls are decorated with geometric Asian inspired patterns and slabs are peppered with jars of Burmese spices.
We were visiting on the opening week so only a small number of items were available from the food menu. But what we tried, we loved.
From the small plates we sampled the Shan Rice with Fish (£7) – a heap of savoury, Asian spiced riced topped with crispy fried fish and peanuts for crunch. It has some fresh, zingy flavours and groaned with textures. The dish particularly hit a nostalgic note with me as it reminded me of eating ‘fried fish and rice’ (a Bengali staple). At home of course, things were a bit more ‘rustic’, here the food was presented in a much more refined manner. The only complaint was that the portion size was a bit small and you were left wanting more.
The Steamed Balachaung Dumplings (£5) were intriguing. These lacy little numbers, floating in a puddle of a light and zesty sauce, were engorged with a fermented shrimp paste in chilli oil and flecked with micro slivers of radish. As your mouth navigated through the fairly dense dough, you got a nice, surprising kick at the back of your throat before gulping the whole lot.
The Yellow Pea Paratha (£6) was also a revelation. The layered flatbread came rolled and pre-sliced (almost like a spring roll), stuffed with a delicious, curried yellow pea filling. It was robust and mildly spicy.
Onto the mains: Kris had the Lamb and Lahpet (£13), a very thick curry that had the eponymous Lahpet (fermented tea) flavours and colours coming through. I was unsure of the dark, very unique flavour at first and then it kind of grew on me. The lamb was soft and pulled apart easily, almost like pulled pork. Kale and root vegetables gave it an autumnal touch. It was best paired with some of their tasty House Rice (£3.5).
But the most tantalising dish was unmistakably the Coconut Noodles with Chicken (£11). You could describe it as a deep bowl of Burmese curried ramen. The broth was thick and unctuous with rich, creamy, slightly sour and exotic flavours. The chicken was literally the softest meat I have eaten in a while; almost poached in consistency. The noodles were thin and soft too; complete with a sunny egg yolk in a centre. This dish put a huge smile on my face, like a warm, satisfying hug in a bowl.
It was only week one so things were understandably a bit frenzied in the kitchen. But in spite of that, the staff tried to maintain calm and order. They needn’t have worried as all was forgiven once the food arrived. Little things made the service go even further. We had ordered dessert and coffees. Unfortunately they ran out of dessert but the coffee had already arrived at the table, so they swiftly took it off the bill. This is attention to detail.
If you are looking to discover Burmese cuisine, get a strong headway with Lahpet. I am forecasting Burmese cuisine to be the next revolution in the culinary food map of London.
Location : 58, Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6JW
More information can be found here
N.B. All photos and opinions are mine. I review anonymously and pay for my meals.