After realising we needed to start spending a bit less on eating out (if we’re ever going to be able to buy a house, sorry, I mean flat), we chose Lahpet to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Harriet and I both love Asian food and had been intrigued by Lahpet, one of London’s only Burmese restaurants. It’s had some great reviews and seems reasonably priced.
I like to consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable when it comes to Asian cuisine, but I must confess I knew nothing at all about Burmese food. Thank God I do now though – it’s exquisite. Well, the food at Lahpet is anyway.
Founded by Dan Anton and Zaw Mahesh, who both have Burmese heritage, their original restaurant was at a temporary site near London Fields. They’ve now opened a much bigger permanent venue in Shoreditch. And what a great looking place it is. It’s trendy and set up brilliantly for communal eating. It is a bit loud, but I personally like that. This place has a serious ‘buzz’ about it.
What I ate:
Fritters: Mandalay / Sweetcorn / Split Pea / Shan Tofu (£3 Each / £10 Platter)
We went for a platter to kick things off. These perfectly formed fritters come in fish and chips style cones, propped up by an adorable little wooden stand. For some reason we didn’t have any sweetcorn ones. I’m not sure if this is normally what happens with the platter… Anyway, the three we had were all crispy and seriously tasty. And they came with a super zesty, tangy tamarind-esque sauce for dunking. My personal favourites were the shan tofu fritters – they were shaped like chips and were magnificently crispy on the outside and beautifully soft on the inside. A perfect little snackaroon to kick things off.
Lahpet (Tea Leaf) (£6)
Head Chef, Zaw, ferments these himself (it’s a rather long arduous process from what I’ve read) and it’s one of Lahpet’s signature dishes. In fact, Lahpet means wet tea in Burmese. I think I might have eaten tea leaves in China before, but I can’t be certain (I’d had too many Tsingtaos to drink I reckon). I was curious. This is not a subtle dish and has a flavour rather different to anything I’ve tasted before. After the first bite I wasn’t 100% sure, but by the end I was scraping the plate clean. It takes a bit of time for your palate to adapt to the bitter, pickled flavour of the tea leaves, but once it gets used to it you’re likely to be in a happy place. However, there are bound to be a few people out there who don’t get on with this dish.
Hake Masala Lemongrass Rosti (£15)
This was one of the least subtle things I’ve ever eaten in my life. The first mouthful of sauce nearly knocked me off my chair. Not because it was blow-your-head-off spicy with chilli though. This is a complex sauce that attacks you with super strong flavours of lemongrass, cinnamon and coconut. There were a load more flavours in there, but my palate isn’t familiar enough (yet) with Burmese food to be able to identify them. Similar to the Lahpet salad, this one took me a few mouthfuls to fall in love with. And similarly, I was licking the plate clean. I’ve talked about the awesome complexity of the sauce, but special mention has to go out to the fish too. It was absolutely immaculately cooked – stupidly moist and it flaked away each time you cut into it. And it worked so well with the intense sauce. To make things even better, there was a seriously scrummy rosti underneath, which was also packed full of the flavour of lemongrass. It was a more dense rosti than what I was expecting, but I liked it. I liked it a lot. I liked this dish A LOT. If you don’t like lemongrass though, avoid.
We ordered some Coconut House Rice (£3.50) to go alongside the hake.
Coconut Noodles With Chicken (Ohn-No Kauk Swé) (£12)
After my glowing review of the hake, you might expect that was my favourite dish. Guess again. This bowl of noodles was so stupendous I can’t stop thinking about it. In fact, writing this makes me want to run out of the house in my underwear, get to Shoreditch asap and eat it. It’s just sublime. The reason this is so good is the broth/soup. It has some similarities to a red thai curry sauce and also to a laksa, but in reality, it’s much more than that. The depth of flavour is sensational – it has the comforting flavour of seriously creamy coconut, zingy citrus, warming tomato, punchy ginger and garlic. The noodles are lovely and soft and lap up that glorious broth. It’s the closest you’ll ever feel to being hugged by a bowl of soup. It’s that comforting. I would like to eat this every day, please.
Lime & Ginger Ice Cream (£3 for one scoop) (£5 for two scoops)
We were way too full for dessert, so we shared a scoop of ice cream. And I’m pleased we only went for one – it was a pretty substantial scoop. It certainly delivered on the flavour of lime. If I closed my eyes, I felt like I was eating a key lime pie – the consistency of the ice cream was almost cheesecake-like. And the crispy nut crumb surrounding the ice cream reminded of a biscuit base. It was a great way to finish a brilliant meal.
Overall, Lahpet is a restaurant that’s managed to really excite me. The food is packed full of new, seriously awesome and interesting flavours, but nothing too crazy to put Asian food lovers off. It’s put the rather unknown food of Myanmar on London’s culinary map and that is a wonderful thing. There are a number of other cuisines out there we haven’t been exposed to over here in the UK. For example, I’ve been championing food from China’s Yunnan region for a long time now and still there’s nowhere to eat its glorious cuisine here on our shores (I think I need to open a restaurant…). I’m already figuring out when I can go back to Lahpet. I need to try the rest of the menu, but I already know it will be a serious challenge to deviate away from their dreamy coconut noodle soup.
N.B. Lahpet also has a stall in Spitalfields market where you can try some of their most popular dishes.
Should you go to Lahpet?
Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Well, unless you are scared of food that isn’t bland and boring.
How much does it cost?
£30-£50 with drinks
|Overall:||(9 / 10)|
|Flavour:||(10.0 / 10)|
|Creativity:||(8.5 / 10)|
|Presentation:||(8.5 / 10)|
|Service and Ambiance:||(9.0 / 10)|
|Value for money:||(9.0 / 10)|