The Shan State is a Burmese restaurant serving you food from the Shan State region of Myanmar. It is located right next to China Town at Shaftsbury Avenue. Despite having travelled to Thailand, its neighbouring country regularly, the Myanmar cuisine remains rather foreign to me. I pretty much expect the flavours would have a huge South East Asian plus Chinese influence. Those flavours I am very familiar with but was still very excited to see what some true Burmese flavours have to offer.
Apart from a range of Burmese and Far East tapas and dishes, their menu also offer a vast variety of desserts and specialty drinks. In terms of restaurant setting, the restaurant decor resembles a classic bustling South East Asian lounge. The interior is lined with wooden tables and benches, and the walls lined with traditional Burmese artworks. Its buzzing vibe transported me back to Asia and a reminiscence of home.
Okinawa Bubble Milk Tea (£3.85)
I love bubble teas, so it’s an absolute no-brainer for me to order one. You can choose from a vast range of fruit teas, classic milk teas, and even signature mixes. As per usual, I went for the classic ones. However, I did go for something sweeter than usual and picked the Okinawa Milk Tea.
The difference is the use of caramel. It has the right amount of sweetness – perfectly curing my sweet tooth but not overly sweetened where it gets sickening. As for the tapioca though, it carries the sweetness but was soggy in terms of texture.
Shrimp Cheung Fun (£5.95)
Cheung Fun is basically glutinous rice noodles rolls. It is commonly served as dim sums in Chinese restaurants. Typically, it’s either wrapped with fillings and served with soy sauce, or it’s rolled into little cylinders and topped with sesame & sauces.
This tapas dish is more of the latter style, though not exactly it. Flavour-wise, the glutinous rice rolls itself don’t have much of a taste. There’s a subtle sesame fragrance and savoury flavour from the fried crunchy toppings. The flavours were there when you spread some of the sweet sauce to eat with it. The sweet sauce does get overpowering at times so don’t drench it in the sauce. In overall, I feel the texture was a bit dried out and lacked some texture. A good Cheung Fun should be smooth, moist, stretchy and al dente. It definitely could use some steam and moisture for this dish.
Vegetable Spring Rolls (£4.20)
You can’t go wrong with spring rolls. These fried golden rolls are one of the most loved tapas all across Asia, and where each country has their own twist to it as well. The ones here at the Shan State are of the classic Chinese style spring rolls. They have the standard crunch and gorgeous golden colour. However, it needs more filling!
Jelly Fish Salad (£4.20)
Yep it’s jelly fish. I have previously introduced edible jelly fish in an old blog post. While it may seem weird for a lot of people but it’s a very popular appetizer in the Far East. They are served cold as a salad, and mixed with lots of thinly sliced cucumber. I personally didn’t enjoy the mix of cucumbers. I much prefer the classic plain jelly fish salad tossed with chilli and sesame oil. In terms of texture, it’s decent but I would’ve expected a more al dente-ness. Flavours are quite nice and appetizing – in overall a pleasant home dish for me but nothing overwhelming.
Tempura Prawn (£4.20)
The tempura is fried to a really good golden crisp. That crunch as you bite into it was on point. The size of prawn inside was okay – I thought it was a bit small and would like it to be bigger and more fleshy. Nevertheless, it was really tasty to pair them with the sweet chilli sauce. Among all the tapas, this one was our favourite.
Thai Fish Cakes (£4.20)
I didn’t know the Cheung Fun came with some fish cakes so I kind of double ordered this. Anyway, this Thai signature dish has always been a favourite of mine. The Thai fish cakes and prawn cakes are simply the best. They always come with a kick of spice as well that proper adds excitement to your palate.
However, I didn’t find this dish here particularly impressive. Also, I find it weird that it’s served with sweet sauce instead of sweet chilli sauce. Firstly, the sauce simply doesn’t work with the fish cakes. The flavours were completely mismatched. Secondly, I genuinely don’t recall any Thai or South East Asians pair their fish cakes with that either. As far as I’m aware, the sweet sauce is a Cantonese thing, not a Thai thing?! Thankfully we had other dishes that came with sweet chilli sauce so we simply swapped it around.
State Curry Rice (£9.84)
The curry was served in a clay pot and a bowl of white rice separately. You can choose from Chicken, Duck, or Vegetables in your curry. The curry was really fragrant in general. It was thick in texture and packed with fillings. We loved how the potatoes and carrots have soaked up the flavours and cooked incredibly tender. Flavour-wise, it’s savoury with a mild kick of spice. It’s relatively coconut-y so it has quite a rich full-bodied taste. It’s a bit different to the usual curries we get and gets a bit heavy halfway through due to the heavy coconut content.
Curry is not complete with rice. For the rice, I personally find it lacked fluffiness. It was kind of dried up and stuck together. This can be saved by loading the rice bowl with curry sauce, which adds moisture and breaks it all up. Even though it seems a mere minor detail, it does affect the overall tasting experience.
Monk Noodles (£10.56)
The noodles were served in a clay pot as well. I really enjoy the clay pot concept – it’s traditional and adds heartiness to the dishes. It really reminds me of the cozy winter days back in Hong Kong where we enjoy clay pot rice. Anyway, I believe Monk Noodles are also known as Mohinga. It is basically rice noodles in fish soup, and is considered as a national dish of Myanmar.
There is a strong fragrance of fish paste and shrimp paste, along with a bunch of classic South East Asian herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, coriander and fish sauce. It could get quite intense in terms of flavours. On the side, it’s served with lime, red chilli flakes and abundant of fried onions. These fried onions were fried to a lovely crisp and I thoroughly enjoyed them having them dipped into the soup. While I liked the dish at the start, after a while it somehow started to feel a bit oily and it turned a bit much for me.
As for the dessert menu, the options are incredibly vast. From crepes and waffles to traditional tapioca jelly & fruit bowls, it creates such a dilemma on picking just one! We went through the whole menu but in the end our stomach felt absolutely defeated. There’s a Chinese saying that can be briefly translated as ‘big eyes, small stomach’ – that’s literally how it was for us. So eventually we gave up on the idea of desserts and just sat there hugging our bellies. It’s a shame because they all look very alluring! If you’ve been, please do let us know how it was!
All in all, I think The Shan State is a pretty interesting restaurant and has a lot of potential. At the Shan State, you really get to surround yourself in that Far East Asian vibe. As for the food, it’s alright but not particularly enticing. Nevertheless, I can totally see this place being a buzzing hub for Asian desserts and such. Back home when we go out with friends, after dinner we always look for a dessert lounge sort of place to chill. Especially with its prime location, The Shan State could be the spot as it resembles that type of vibe.
Have you had Burmese food before? Let us know!
My Rating: 3/5
Not a huge fan for the hot food but it’s the Asian dessert spot!
Halal Status: Halal except for Pork dishes
Address: 100-102 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 5EF
Closest Underground Station: Leicester Square