The Shan State

Restaurants, Burmese Chinatown
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
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A Burmese restaurant on the edge of Chinatown, specialising in the food of the Shan State region.

Hands up if, when reading a menu, you look for that dish you’ve never tried. Yup, me too. So you’ll love Shan State, the first Burmese restaurant to open in Chinatown and one of only a few in London. This tiny, casual joint celebrates the cuisine of Shan State: the largest region in Myanmar, which borders China, Laos and Thailand.

Take a seat – on the upper section if you can – and order from the crinkly, laminated ‘Street Food’ menu (ignore the one called ‘Tapas’, a pan-Asian pick ’n’ mix for tourists). I loved the green tea salad, a jumble of shrivelled, fermented tea leaves with teeny dried shrimp, fried beans, whole peanuts and juicy tomatoes, plus a pile of fiery sliced chillies (both green and red) and fresh garlic. It delivered on texture and flavour, its intense saltiness nicely balanced by the accompanying plain rice. The ‘state noodle’ was equally memorable: a bowl of thin noodles topped with your choice of meat – like oily, garlicky minced chicken – plus crushed nuts and fresh herbs, with a light broth served to one side. But the yellow bean soup (yellow tofu nway) was a let-down, having quickly turned into a homogeneous, gloopy blob.

But then there’s the dazzling array of wild, wonderful desserts, borrowed from across south-east Asia. Many were, for me, deeply nostalgic (I grew up in Singapore), and no doubt have the same effect on the countless Asian students here. Dishes are huge, sweet, and have more ingredients than you can shake a retro wafer stick at. Try Filipino fave ‘halo-halo’: a scoop of biscuity yam ice cream, two clear jellies, red bean paste, corn flakes, sweet sago pearls and an entire crème caramel pudding.

Frills this place may not have, but thrills it’s got in bundles.

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: The Shan State
Contact:
Address: 100-102 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 5EF
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: Dinner for two with soft drinks and service: around £60.
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Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|8
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1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

The Shan State is something I walk by all the time but have never entered. On Sunday a friend and I went for a catch up and had an incredible meal.

The venue is beautiful and the waitress' were lovely and friendly.

We both ordered off the tapas menu and devoured our meal. The gyoza was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Everything came swiftly and was piping hot.

The portion sizes were great and we left satisfied. We are already planning our next meal back.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Shan State gave me the opportunity to try Burmese food for the first time. In this unassuming cafe behind china town, I was greeted by a very friendly and enthusiastic waiter who explained the menu; although it's fairly straight forward. He happily offered some recommendations such as the taco balls which were delicious. The restaurant was rather busy so our waiter was slightly stretched in terms of seeing to everybody but he handled it very well. The food arrived very efficiently and we had one member of staff check on us a couple of times for us to discover later on that she was in fact the chef! We also had the pork dumplings which were cooked to perfection and decided to share the Shan State Noodles (as recommended) for our main. The dish was beautifully presented in a clay pot and additional seasonings on the side to add to your taste. The coconut noodles were served in a curry-type stock but the coconut flavour was a bit too overpowering for me. Shan State are also very famous for their bubbles teas and desserts so we thought it'd be rude not to sample some. I had a frozen mango green tea which was refreshing and moreish; so much so that I had to stop myself from drinking all in one go! For dessert I played it safe and opted for the waffle with ice cream and banana which was faultless. The restaurant is perfect for lunch meet or a cheap dinner; with our food and drinks only coming to just over £40, and with such friendly service, you can't go wrong.

1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

Shan State was a lovely experience from the moment we walked in. The very funny and friendly waiter sat us down and kindly explained the men, since it was our first experience with Burmese food. 

We shared a selection of starters which are good for sharing: mixed vegetables - which come in big portion and everything it’s very hot so be careful when you bit into little fried veggies! Tempura prawns were delicious and chicken wings very fragrant.
That followed up by noodle soups and shared a dessert. We managed to order the right amount of food, because I was adamant I want to try dessert. Everything was very tasty, not too heavy on the stomach and felt fresh and healthy.
The interiors are simple but charming and really liked the service. They don’t have liquor licence yet so they let us drink our own wine, which was another plus!

Definitely worth a visit!
1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

The Shan State is a Myanmar inspired restaurant serving up classic dishes from The Shan State in Myanmar and also classic South East Asian dishes. Their menu is vast, serving up tapas, noodle or rice dishes and every kind of waffle or ice cream combination you can think of! They specialise in milk tea and also bubble tea which is a popular choice. The Shan State is based next to China Town on Shaftesbury Avenue and has plenty of seating.


Of course we started off with bubble tea; they have a good variety of flavours and toppings. We went with mango green tea with passion fruit popping balls and mango green tea with strawberry popping balls. You can request the sweetness of your tea and ours were just right, the passion fruit popping balls were the best!


For the food we decided to try a few tapas dishes, recommended by the lovely and helpful staff. First we tried the Tempura Prawn: panko coated king prawns, and the Thai Fish Cake: yummy little Thai spiced fish cakes. Both were fresh and tasty. Then we tried the Shrimp Cheung Fun, a classic Cantonese dish which is one of my favourites. It’s basically very soft glutinous noodle rolls served with a meat or fish. This cheung fun was served with prawn fishcakes and was very tasty; the thick salty soy sauce was delicious. To finish our tapas dishes we had the Tempura: which is vegetable tempura in classic Myanmar style and was fresh and yummy, and finally the Tako Balls: fried octopus balls – very popular in Japan and much tastier than it sounds!

For the main event we ordered the State noodles: Sticky rice flat noodles with seasoned vegetables, bean soup, mashed tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper and mushroom. You can add tofu or a meat and so we chose the duck – which was delicious! It was nicely seasoned and the duck was crispy and tasty sitting on top.


Our eyes were too big for our bellies unfortunately so we didn’t get to try any of their impressive looking deserts but looking around the restaurant it seems that many people visit just for that! The waffles and ice cream rolls looked delicious and we’ll be sure to go back and try them out!

The tapas dishes start at £4.20 and the State Noodles cost just under £10. The portions are generous but not overkill so make sure you try them out next time you’re near China Town…but leave room for dessert!

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

My evening at Shan State was my first encounter with Burmese cuisine, and this cute, no frills, eatery on the edge of Chinatown did not disappoint.

With an open kitchen sizzling downstairs, it is hard to choose from the extensive menu as all the aromas wafting up to the restaurant all smell so delicious. However, we somehow managed to focus our minds and picked two of their speciality dishes, Shan State Noodles and Shan State Curry. The noodles were hearty, warming and super tasty; a big bowl of a meaty broth with soft noodles and crunchy vegetables. I chose duck as my meat, and it was cooked perfectly; crispy skin and tender and pink on the inside. The noodles also came with pickled veg and fresh chilli so you could pimp your broth to your own preference. The curry again was a wonderful blend of spices which ended with a welcome kick of chilli.

The dessert part of our meal was not quite as satisfying. This restaurant is known as a bubble tea and dessert bar, and we had already seen a glimpse of this with our fruity iced teas which came in goblet sized receptacles with fresh fruit at the bottom; refreshing and delicious. However for pudding, we opted for a classic strawberry and chocolate crepe, which was light and gooey and everything you would expect from batter topped with melted chocolate, and something called Mango Lover, which sounded far more appetising than it tasted. The sago pearls had been chilled too long so had turned into block of ice, rather than smooth and creamy. However, the mango ice cream and the fresh mango were both full of tropical yumminess- just a bit of tweaking and this could be a lovely dish.

For a Tuesday night, this place was buzzing, with most tables being full. There were times when the one man service team seemed to be understandably stretched, but he was so friendly, positive and informative about the dishes that we didn’t mind waiting a little longer for our dishes to be cleared or to pay the bill.

With communal wooden benches and decorated umbrellas hanging from the walls, Shan State has a quirky, welcoming atmosphere and is the perfect place to go and try some new flavours and some dishes which are a little wacky. Delicious food, good value.

Tastemaker

Not sure what all the fuss is about here, came with a group of friends and ordered about half the menu. Tried the classics and some of the dishes others have spoken about below, and none of them were that good. Fried chicken was well...just fried chicken. Coconut noodles were overwhelmingly just coconut, and hadn't been boiled down properly, Shan noodles were meh. 


One great dish actually was the vegan aubergine and mushroom rice bowl. 


Oh and the desserts are all pretty good actually.


My biggest gripe really is that for a Burmese restaurant, it tries to do the Pan-Asian thing and succeeds to a mild extent. But for true Thai food, or Cantonese food, just go to a specialist restaurant. Much better! This was only my 2nd time eating Burmese dishes so I can't fully comment on that in comparative terms, but again, just meh.


Good potential, but needs to focus! 

Tastemaker

I wish I could give The Shan State more than 5*, as the food was just incredible.


I had never tried Burmese food before, or quite honestly I didn't know what it was about. A mix of Indian and Thai, the flavours were sensational and there was such a range of the menu's offering. 


We were served by the most friendly and enthusiastic staff, Troung and Aleefiya, who were honest about what they offered, so happy and very knowledgeable.


The food was a great price, we had so many dishes: tempura, cumin prawn, lychee plum chicken, yakitori, tom yum popping chicken, thai fish cake, coconut noodles and state yellow pork curry, all for just £45.72. What really helps is the venue is BYOB, so we saved on the cost of drinks and were able to enjoy more food (win!)

The popping chicken was crispy and tender inside, with a fantastic tangy and fruity sauce. The lychee plum chicken was a rogue choice, completely as a 'lets see what it's like'. I never thought the sweetness of the lychee and plum would work well in a savoury dish, but combined it was like nothing i've tasted before. It was cold, sweet and completely moreish.


The mains were very different to each other. The yellow pork curry was very northern Indian: spicy with tomato and onion based sauce taste. The coconut noodles were very Goan, with sweet coconut flavours and a underlying spice. The noodles were light and the whole dish was incredible.


A truly wonderful restaurant in Chinatown. 

tastemaker

This was the first time I had tried Burmese food and I was impressed! The Shan State is a small, casual restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue. Friendly staff and good, hearty food. We really enjoyed the spring rolls and vegetable tempura. The main dishes of coconut noodles and state curry were also fun to try. The coconut noodles were tasty, but did become a bit sickly after a few bites so I would recommend sharing this. The state curry was full of flavour and a tad spicy. The curry was available in yellow, green or red sauce- varying spices. I was slightly disappointed when I asked for vegetarian recommendations and the waiter said to look for anything with a V sign. Nonetheless I enjoyed my evening at the shan state and my first encounter of Burmese food. 

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