London Chinatown is great for Chinese food but you can also find little gems of different cuisine. This is how I first discovered The Shan State, a Burmese restaurant café in Chinatown specialising in food for Myanmar. I have to admit that their wonderful array of desserts are what drew me in but once inside you will be amazed not only by the selection but the décor. It is decked out in amber glowing lights, dark wooden tables and South-east Asian imagery.
There is a lamented menu of lunch and dessert and a snack menu. I tried the salt & pepper prawn. It delivers on flavour with simple salt and lemon but the light batter is not as crispy as you would expect. The prawns were served in a jam jar on top of a mild vinegary salad of rocket leaves, spring onions and a sprinkle of cornflakes. This is a great light refreshing afternoon snack I would recommend before dinner.
It would be a crying shame to leave the Shan State without having a dessert which could be a snack itself. Each one is a large bowl and sweet with many different toppings. Try the “mango lover”: a scoop of mango ice cream served on sago pearls with sweet dumpling and fresh mango chunks. This is perfect for cooling you down from the summer heat.
If you are however looking for a bigger meal, you can also try a Shan Kauk Swe dish. There are different versions of the dish but the seafood flavour was definitely unique. In a bowl of light seafood broth was sticky rice Myanmar noodles with pak choi leaves and shrimp. At first, I was pretty disappointed to see only three cooked shrimp but there was a handful of baby shrimp and seafood in a tangy brown sauce. For more spice, add the chilli flakes and for more crunch, add the condiment of sauerkraut. Mixing it all together you really get to experience the flavour and different textures of this dish. It is not like something I have tasted before. The broth was not oily and the noodles were just right.
I believe there is a lot more to this menu I have not explored. I can see the Stan State quickly becoming my go-to hangout spot in Central London because the portions are generous and fairly priced.
Salt & Pepper Prawn £5.50
Mango Lover £6.20
Shan Kauk Swe – Seafood £12.90
Venue: The Stan State
Address: 102 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5EF