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The Shan State (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Burmese Shaftesbury Avenue

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

Please note, The Shan State has now closed. Time Out Food editors, July 2019.

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.


Address: 100-102 Shaftesbury Avenue
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
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