Burmese cuisine is not one that you come across often around London. Lahpet first started out in Hackney, then later found its way to Shoreditch and Spitalfields, which we very eagerly went to try in 2018. The meats were not halal then but even with just vegetarian & seafood options, we were impressed with the food and really enjoyed our experience there. Continuing its success, Lahpet opened a new branch in Covent Garden and started to offer halal options as well. And that was the cue for us to give Lahpet Covent Garden a visit.
Lahpet: Exploring Untapped Contemporary Burmese Cuisine
Burmese cuisine is relatively untapped in the market and tends to fly under the radar compared to other Southeast Asian cuisines. Founded by Dan Anton and Head Chef Zaw Mahesh, both of whom share a Burmese heritage, Lahpet is established with the mission of popularising this underrated cuisine in London. To grab the attention of the London crowd for a cuisine that’s largely unheard of for most, Lahpet takes a clever approach to modernise traditional Burmese staple dishes and swoops in the market with a breath of freshness.
Tucked within St Martin’s Courtyard, the restaurant’s almost like a safe haven from the hustle & bustle of Covent Garden. Similar to its original Shoreditch restaurant, Lahpet Covent Garden also follows a bright & airy interior design and adorned the space with bamboo shoots & light pastel colours. Outdoor seating is also available, which is where we sat and is especially perfect for people-watching during the warmer months.
Chicken and lamb are halal at both Covent Garden & Shoreditch restaurants.
Black Tiger Prawn Skewers (£8)
Ordering these prawn skewers to start was the best decision ever. Served shell-on, these grilled prawns were magnificently full of flavour. The charred flavours over the shells were just chef’s kiss. Not only was the charred tomato & chilli dip a great accompaniment to the prawns but it really brought out an extra depth & flavour dimension that remarkably wowed the palate. That extra tangy & piquant flavours were phenomenal and we couldn’t get enough of them!
Chicken Thigh Skewers (£7)
The chicken thigh skewers were not short of delight either with their succulency & well-marinated flavours. Though we must say that the prawns definitely stole the show in comparison. The accompanying dip remains a delightful condiment but it didn’t wow the same way as it did with the prawns. All of this being said, it’s still an excellent dish to enjoy!
Coconut Noodles with Chicken (£15) (Khao Suey)
Moving onto mains, we had the Khao Suey, i.e. coconut noodles with chicken. The presentation was fantastic, topped with a lattice of crispy fried wonton skin and a drizzle of paprika oil. If you’re looking for spicy, it’s not going to give you that. Instead, you’ll be getting an incredibly aromatic and coconutty flavour profile that’s no short of delight & heartiness. As expected, the chicken thigh pieces were tender and succulent to taste, pairing well with the rich coconut broth.
Rakhine Mohinga (£16.5)
Mohinga is a Burmese speciality and it’s a punchy fish-based noodle soup that promises big flavours. I had this during my 2018 visit as well. That time, I found the fish flavours too subtle to my liking. Whereas this time, it definitely delivered a more intense fish flavour & essence. Although being told it will be spicy, it’s not quite so other than a touch of heat that comes after. Nonetheless, it was very aromatic to taste, laced with a tangy flavour from the lemongrass, tamarind & lime. I also particularly enjoyed the chargrilled squid, which makes a wondrous noodle topping.
Pandan Coconut Creme Brulee (£6.50)
For desserts, my eyes immediately lit up at the pandan creme brulee and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Other than the perfect crackly top and silky smoothness of the creme brulee, my favourite part ought to be the jaggery sago sitting at the bottom. It fondly reminds me of Chinese baked sago pudding, but with a creative modern twist of transforming it into a sophisticated creme brulee. It’s not overly sweet, with well-balanced flavours, and was a light yet satisfying dessert to end the meal.
Cassava Cake (£7.50)
The other dessert we had was the cassava cake, served with jackfruit sorbet and crystallised pineapple. We can’t say we’re a huge fan of this one. Contrary to the Pandan Creme Brulee, the Cassava Cake was a lot richer and syrupy to taste. It wasn’t the best first few bites but you do grow into the flavours after. The jackfruit sorbet offers a refreshing tangy touch to cut through the richness.
Other dishes we tried in 2018 Lahpet Shoreditch
Fried Bream (£20)
A notable dish we had from our 2018 visit (at the Shoreditch branch) was the Fried Bream. You can still find it on today’s menu at Lahpet Covent Garden. We loved the fact that the fried bream was served as a whole fish. If you’re worried about bones, don’t worry, the meat was already neatly sliced up so it doesn’t require a lot of effort to tackle. The fish was fried to the perfect crisp on the outside, brushed with an aromatic tomato, shallot & garlic soy glaze that played beautifully to the palate. Back then, it was served with stir-fried morning glory on the side, which is my favourite vegetable ever. Now it’s served with crushed double-fried beans & peanuts and seasonal greens, which I’m sure is still delightful.
*Stuffed Aubergine (£13)
It’s now just Grilled Aubergine on the menu (priced at £9), but it was a Stuffed Aubergine back then and it completely changed my views on aubergines – in a very good way. I was never a fan of aubergine to start with. But that stuffed aubergine was no short of magical flavours that impressed me. Perhaps it’s the dried shrimp & oyster mushroom filling that offered such rich umami and completely stunned the palate. It was luscious, it was dreamy, and it was fantastic, to say the least. The grilled aubergine now is dressed with fried shallots & garlic, chilli coriander, garlic oil, lime, and peanuts.
Restaurant Review Summary
We enjoyed our first visit in 2018 back then, we enjoyed it even more now! Overall, Lahpet has really impressed and we love to see how the food has improved and continued to evolve with the market. The skewers for starters were especially remarkable. There’s no better place than Lahpet to put a spotlight on Burmese cuisine and to do it justly. Whether you’re curious about Burmese cuisine, or just wanted to find a good halal-friendly restaurant around Covent Garden, Lahpet is 100% one to be on the list.
Chicken & lamb are halal.