Authentic Burmese Restaurant in London at Lahpet:
Burmese cuisine is one of the most under-represented of the various South-East Asian food cultures in the London food scene. Lahpet Burmese restaurant on bustling Bethnal Green Road in the heart of Shoreditch is trying to put that right. After a successful year-long pop-up in Hackney, founders Dan Anton and Head Chef Zaw Mahesh have created and refined a menu of Burmese regional and national dishes. Both Dan and Zaw have Burmese heritage which should guarantee authenticity; I’m excited to be reviewing Lahpet as Burmese food is new to me and I want to see how it translates to London’s global food scene. Lahpet Burmese restaurant is a short trot from Liverpool St. Station but you can also park outside after 7p.m. which is a boon in this day and age. The interior is cool and elegant, a mix of wooden flooring and industrial concrete by greenery, copper cutlery and cocktail sets with jars containing Burmese specialties lining the walls. It’s a contemporary take on South-East Asian style but with a soft, human touch. Much of Burmese cuisine is fish and seafood based with salads having a central importance. At Lahpet the menu is split into small and main plates, salads and bowls, sides and desserts with the emphasis being on sharing. But dinner without cocktails is like Dec without Ant – ok but lacking that extra fizz. The Lahpet Margarita uses betel leaf-infused tequila for their take on the classic drink which was as good as anything that I tried in Havana. I loved the Lemongrass Fizz, a blend of Licor 43, lemongrass, lime, bitters and prosecco which was deliciously astringent. With steamed Balachaung (spicy shrimp relish) dumplings on the side – classic South East Asian flavours packed in a glutinous dumpling – it was the perfect way to start the meal. The restaurant also has a short wine list from the excellent Borough Wines with house white and red wine available on tap. From the small plates menu came some Shan Tofu fritters masquerading as a chip! With a fluffy exterior and crisp exterior they were like the perfect chip but made from a split pea-based tofu which is made on site. Yellow pea parathas were earthy and satisfying – the sort of food you want to eat when you are really hungry. Burmese salads are dense constructions full of textural contrasts with nuts, vegetables, pulses, seeds and seafood creating a beguiling mix. The Lahpet salad (named after the eponymous pickled tea leaf) was infused with the pleasing pungency of dried prawn and the nuttiness of the sesame seeds. The fish cakes in the Fish Cake Salad are similar to Chinese fish cakes but here come shredded and spiced in a beautifully balanced mix of textures and flavours with added crunch. By now we had moved on to beer which seemed a good match for the food. Low Voltage Session IPA from Brixton Brewery was low in alcohol but high in hoppy personality and One Mile End Blood Orange Wheat Dipa was creamy and citric. A generously portioned and richly flavoured tranche of hake was slathered in a Burmese masala sauce and was placed on a deliciously crunchy lemongrass rosti – perfect for mopping up! The integrity of the fish flavour wasn’t compromised by the spice of the sauce – why can’t I do that…Stuffed aubergine with dried shrimp and oyster mushroom was a completely fresh take on an aubergine dish for me with the shrimp adding an umami flavour further highlighted by the dark, intense Pon Yay Gyi fermented soya bean relish – you just need a small amount! And then the desserts. A dense banana and coconut cake came with a cooling banana ice-cream and was topped with a peanut crunch. But my favourite was the unusual dish of avocado mousse and fresh fruit. The lightly sweetened avocado mousse was covered with kiwi, pomegranate and a host of berries and was the perfect blend of lightness and sweetness the body requires at a meal’s end. If you enjoy South-East Asian food you should visit Lahpet as Burmese cuisine is both distinctive and worth exploring and finding a Burmese restaurant is still a rare and wonderful thing. With a lovely space, friendly and informative service and fresh flavours Laphet Burmese restaurant makes a welcome change and is a great addition to the Shoreditch scene.
Bethnal Green Road
T:0203 883 5629