When Lahpet operated via a year-long pop-up, Burmese cuisine was tragically underrepresented in London. Impressed by the food served at the London Fields warehouse space, I’ve been a fan of the restaurant since my first visit two years ago.
Launched by Dan Anton and Head Chef Zaw Mahesh, Lahpet started life at Maltby Street Market and has opened a permanent site at the Shoreditch end of Bethnal Green Road (opened last year) since my first visit. A regular food stall also continues to run in nearby Spitalfields Market.
Designed by Natalie Weaver Interiors, in collaboration with the founders, the Bethnal Green site’s interior is one of my favourites in London. Warm and natural; wooden flooring and industrial accents are softened by foliage, copper and pendant lighting. It manages to consistently evoke nostalgia for tropical holidays. You can almost hear the waves crashing onto a nearby shore.
On more than one past visit, I’ve regularly returned to the venue’s signature tea leaf salad. It’s a consistently well-balanced, interesting dish which stays in my mind and demands a visit to the venue time and again. During a recent dinner visit, however, I was determined to sample a different selection of dishes. As we took our seats at the bar (always book ahead), co-founder Dan Anton was on hand to make recommendations from the new menu.
To start, Balachaung dumplings (£5) were perfectly light with translucent batter concealing a paste of dried shrimp, ginger and chilli, all topped with shallot vinegar. Perfectly balanced parcels delivering a soft yet extant kick. Kachin beef salad (£8.50), on the other hand, turned that heat right up. A plate of Sichuan pepper, shalap leaves, mint, chilli and garlic and ginger oil, with well-cooked slivers of beef harbouring unmistakable spicing: astonishingly flavourful, layering wave after wave of fresh flavour. The earthy tea leaf salad also remains a must-try.
While Lahpet offers some exquisite meat dishes, its meat-free options won’t leave you cold. The lentil chow chow (£12) is a warming bowl of red lentils and glass noodles, topped with a sticky chilli jam, covered with crispy sweet potato. The flavours were reminiscent of an Indian dhal, with a lovely addition of the spicy-sweet jam and a balanced crunch provided by the sweet potato crisps. The Tofu Nway (£12.50) was entirely different. Its silky tofu soup with rice noodles, pickled mustard greens, pea shoots, tofu fritters and peanuts delivered a fresher taste on the palette – perhaps something not too dissimilar to a pad Thai. The way in which the dishes draws on influences throughout Asia to produce something wholly delicious is one of my favourite aspects of Lahpet.
To finish, we shared a Cassava Cake (£7) served with impeccably stewed sweet rhubarb and homemade ice cream. The texture, admittedly, takes a little getting used to but, it’s a wonderful way to end an interesting meal. Lahpet is, of course, a must-visit. I’ll certainly be coming back, again.
Lahpet can be found at 58 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6JW.