An Introduction To Burmese Cuisine
Mention Burmese cuisine to your average Londoner and most of us would be none the wiser as to what ingredients, flavours and sensations we can expect from usual Burmese dishes.
Burma (also known as Myanmar) is bordered by countries such as India, China, Thailand, Bangladesh and Laos. So it’s obvious that a country such as Burma is bound to be brimming with cultural influences from all over. This nation has a staggering collection of over 100 different ethnic groups that make up the population. So that’s bound to cover a lot of different food groups. The main cuisines are split into three: Shan, Inle and Burmese. It has been said that the food that spans this compelling country is of its own special identity. Not as hot as Indian food, not as aromatic as Thai and nor does it seek to resemble your average Chinese dish either. A vast cuisine with many influences but one that has underlined itself as separate and special in its own right.
Lahpet is Déjà Vu’s latest partner and is at the forefront of Burmese cuisine in London. Serving up a mix of traditional dishes and contemporary twists, the team behind Lahpet have Burmese roots and are trying to educate customers on the wonderful flavours of the country. The best culinary experiences are those that involve sampling new flavours and sensations and those are aplenty on this menu. With two locations - their street food kitchen and restaurant in Shoreditch - Lahpet are ensuring their delicious cuisine can be sampled in whatever forms suits you. Whether it’s a Vegan Aubergine Curry on-the-go from their Old Spitalfields Market location or a sit down express 30 minute lunch menu at their restaurant, there’s plenty of menu options to satisfy all palates.
Some of London’s best restaurants are those that allow customers to experience flavours they may have otherwise never heard of. Burmese cuisine is full of punchy flavours spanning from dried shrimp, fermented tea leaves, sour pickles. It’s all about a strong base of flavour sensations that make up this moorish and rich cuisine. Whilst Lahpet is a restaurant, the name itself is taken from the well-known fermented tea leaf salad Lahpet Thohk. A mix of fried beans, cabbage, pickled tea leaves and other delicious additions such as chilli, garlic, sesame oil and dried shrimp. These are all combinations of deep taste profiles that are not often found in your average Westernised dish.
Food theories are also applied to a lot of Burmese cuisine, much like Chinese culture. Some foods are distinguished as being “heating” or “cooling” foods due to the supposed effect they may have on one’s body. For example; chicken, chocolate, mango and bittermelon are all things that are seen as “heating” foods whilst dairy, pork and eggplant are seen as “cooling” foods.
One of Burma’s most popular and well known dishes is Mohinga - a rice noodle and fish soup based dish that was often only consumed for breakfast but is now commonly seen as an all-day meal. The main ingredients include catfish, vermicelli noodles and garnishes such as crispy onions, coriander and lime. Often made by street hawkers, this comforting broth is probably the most popular breakfast dish in Burma. Ngapi is also a main staple of a lot of Burmese cuisine and is a condiment that packs a punch. It is a dried fish paste that’s usually made using fresh fish that is salted, ground then sun dried and forms the basis of many of Burma’s most loved dishes.
Burmese food is all about home cooking and the act of eating, sharing and enjoying the experience together in one huge food extravaganza. There are rarely set courses when it comes to dining in Burma and rather, a medley approach is adopted where dishes are brought out simultaneously. Homemade dishes such as curries, soups and stir fried vegetables are enjoyed side by side rather than waiting patiently for the next courses to arrive. Meal staples such as rice, soup and a dipping sauce will always be found accompanying meals and fresh fish is utilised by many of the cultures in Myanmar. Fritters also feature alongside different dishes and as a popular street food option; you can expect to find things such as split pea fritters or a shan tofu version on the Lahpet menu.
As a country that has been populated by a plethora of exciting cultures, it’s clear to see that the cuisine is an equally fascinating reflection of its nation. If you fancy trying a new Burmese dish, experiencing a slice of Burmese culture or just wanting to find out more, visit Lahpet at their Spitalfields Kitchen location or their restaurant in Shoreditch. Download the Déjà Vu app to unlock the reward waiting for you and keep returning to progress through the tiers and unlock more.
Unlock exclusive rewards with Lahpet at their Spitalfields location at 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW. Be sure to follow them over on Instagram too.