Lahpet serves brilliant Burmese cuisine in Covent Garden

EVEN in a city as diverse as London, the number of restaurants serving Burmese cooking (authentic or otherwise) is sparse to say the least.

Lahpet has been a critical addition to the capital’s dining scene since establishing itself some five years ago, championing the flavours of Myanmar through classic dishes such as rakhine mohinga (fish noodle soup), ohn no khao swè (coconut milk noodles) and thoke (salads).

The restaurant takes its name from perhaps the most renowned Burmese dish of all, lahpet thohk: a bountiful salad made from fermented tea leaves, fried beans, shrimp and peanuts.

Coconut Noodles with Chicken

Founders Dan Anton and chef Zaw Mahesh have clearly struck a chord. After starting out as a stall at Bermondsey’s Maltby Street market, the pair set up in an archway in Hackney before opening their first restaurant in Shoreditch, which was perennially packed since day one.

Now the pair have decided to bring their take on Burmese cooking to the West End.

And it’s brilliant. Their newest outlet in Covent Garden, a gold and beige toned space that spreads across two floors, is bright and bold – and a much needed addition to the area.

Tea Leaf Salad

It’s reassuring to find that the food at Lahpet continues to be on point, despite their expansion. We started with the chicken thigh grilled skewers, which were miraculously tender and ever-so-slightly smoky: a true delight. The ginger salad, with its juicy tanginess and beautiful presentation, offered an excellent counterpoint. The small plates turned out to be the stars of the show.

We were bowled over by the grilled aubergine, which had been cut into long banana-like pieces, its supremely smooth flesh bursting with flavour. Next up was the paratha (an Indian flat bread), which was dense and steaming hot, accompanied by a hearty dhal – a most satisfying meal in itself.

From the large plates, we tried the pork belly curry and hake masala. The small slabs of pork were accompanied by a bamboo sauce that also incorporated dried fermented soya bean. It was a deliciously rich dish that introduced some unique flavour combinations and which will make all meat-lovers happy. The fish was equally impressive with a substantial chunk of hake perched on top of a crisp cassava rosti.

Shan Rice with bream

Added to this was Lahpet’s masala sauce, a fragrant orange concoction which certainly felt like the real deal. The hake was a winner. We finished with the coconut noodles with chicken, its sweet broth smooth and warming. All of this was washed down with a couple of glasses of delicious wine (be sure to look at the drinks menu, it is excellent).

Pork Belly & Sour Bamboo Curry

On the evening of our visit, the restaurant was pleasingly busy, with several diners enjoying the large outdoor space in front of the entrance (there is also a terrace on the first floor).

There can’t be a better place to have dinner in the West End this summer.

by Derby Jones

Lahpet, 21 Slingsby Place, London WC2.  Open all week noon-10pm (9pm Sun).

For reservations, call: 020 4580 1276

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