clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Kiln’s Burmese wild ginger and beef short rib curry
Jordan Lee/for Kiln

The Best Places to Find Burmese Food in London

Where to find the finest coconut chicken noodles, pickled tea leaf salads, and Burmese-style pork belly curries

View as Map
Kiln’s Burmese wild ginger and beef short rib curry
| Jordan Lee/for Kiln

For nearly a quarter of a century, the sole Burmese restaurant in Europe, let alone London, was Mandalay, a family-run spot on Edgware Road. The only other time that Burmese food fans could get their fix was at fundraising fairs held by the Burmese community for various auspicious occasions such as Thingyan (Burmese New Year) or at each other’s houses – a regular refrain from the diaspora is how they had to teach themselves to cook their favourite dishes or otherwise go hungry. Reasons why no one else decided to set up shop vary, but the main one may be that the biggest wave of immigrants to the U.K. in the seventies and eighties came from the medical profession.

But, times have changed and in recent years, there’s been a welcome blossoming of pop-ups, supper clubs, and more permanent fixtures, all showcasing Burmese cuisine, which takes influences from its neighbours Thailand, India and China, and combines them with ingredients and flavours of its own to make something unique and delicious.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Cafe Mandalay

Copy Link

Flying under the radar is this small, casual café near Old Street. The chef-owner Kyaw Thu Ya’s main trade is in sandwiches and cakes, but the name of the café, a small A-board outside listing Burmese dishes, and the posters of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma’s state counsellor) give away other loyalties.

For the past five years, Kyaw Thu Ya has been quietly serving a selection of home-style specials, such as ohn no khao swè (coconut chicken noodles) one week and khayunthee kyet (aubergine curry) with rice the next. His biryani comprising pilau rice with kyethhar masala (Burmese masala chicken) is a permanent fixture, however, as the last time he tried to take it off the menu, there was “nearly a riot”. Order 24 hours in advance for his lahpet thohk (pickled tea leaf salad) which comes highly recommended. Diners can even pick up a jade bracelet, a woven Kachin purse or some Burmese tomato candy at the till.

rangoonsisters/Instagram

Founders Dan Anton and Zaw Mahesh serve thoroughly modern takes on Burmese cuisine in their restaurant on Bethnal Green Road, with another in Covent Garden. Head chef Mahesh, born in Kalaw in Burma, and raised in nearby Mogok, will take a traditional Burmese dessert like mont lone yay paw (similar to the Malaysian onde-onde) and stuff it with balachaung to transform it into a savoury snack. It’s intelligent and thoughtful innovation which displays the same kind of ingenuity which gave the world now-classic Burmese dishes such as samosa salad of which chef and food writer Madhur Jaffrey is a fan.

Classics are also well-executed at Lahpet — its mohinga, Burma’s national dish of fish broth and rice vermicelli heaped with crispy split-pea fritters, roast chilli and coriander, is a treat, as is the signature dish of lahpet thohk which turns umami-packed tea leaves into a unique textural salad. The pone yay gyi salad is another must-order, made using a home-fermented black bean paste that could be deemed Burmese miso.

From the same people behind Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat, in 2016 Kiln opened in Soho to even greater acclaim. It describes itself as serving regional Thai food “with influences from Yunnan and Burma” — Yunnan being the Chinese province which borders Burma. It’s worth grabbing a table near the eponymous kiln, before ordering the deservedly popular, fragrant Burmese wild ginger and short rib curry, which has a nice kick to it but then melts in the mouth.

chicken with soy; claypot pork and crab glass noodles; beef neck curry 
yauwill/Instagram

Lao Café

Copy Link

Perhaps a wild card. Lao Café does not in fact serve Burmese food at all, but those in the know flock to this bright cafe in Charing Cross. Regularly packed with Burmese diners, its hotpot dishes, especially tom zaap gadook moo (spicy sour pork ribs soup) are a close relative to the Burmese soup family chin yay hin, which might be regarded as Burmese penicillin. Lao Café’s spicy salads known as soops are also more redolent of Burmese a-thohk than the more well-known Thai yams or larbs. Order a hotpot, a salad, some grilled meat and some rice and it’s a more than decent approximation of a Burmese spread.

Cafe Mandalay

rangoonsisters/Instagram

Flying under the radar is this small, casual café near Old Street. The chef-owner Kyaw Thu Ya’s main trade is in sandwiches and cakes, but the name of the café, a small A-board outside listing Burmese dishes, and the posters of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma’s state counsellor) give away other loyalties.

For the past five years, Kyaw Thu Ya has been quietly serving a selection of home-style specials, such as ohn no khao swè (coconut chicken noodles) one week and khayunthee kyet (aubergine curry) with rice the next. His biryani comprising pilau rice with kyethhar masala (Burmese masala chicken) is a permanent fixture, however, as the last time he tried to take it off the menu, there was “nearly a riot”. Order 24 hours in advance for his lahpet thohk (pickled tea leaf salad) which comes highly recommended. Diners can even pick up a jade bracelet, a woven Kachin purse or some Burmese tomato candy at the till.

rangoonsisters/Instagram

Lahpet

Founders Dan Anton and Zaw Mahesh serve thoroughly modern takes on Burmese cuisine in their restaurant on Bethnal Green Road, with another in Covent Garden. Head chef Mahesh, born in Kalaw in Burma, and raised in nearby Mogok, will take a traditional Burmese dessert like mont lone yay paw (similar to the Malaysian onde-onde) and stuff it with balachaung to transform it into a savoury snack. It’s intelligent and thoughtful innovation which displays the same kind of ingenuity which gave the world now-classic Burmese dishes such as samosa salad of which chef and food writer Madhur Jaffrey is a fan.

Classics are also well-executed at Lahpet — its mohinga, Burma’s national dish of fish broth and rice vermicelli heaped with crispy split-pea fritters, roast chilli and coriander, is a treat, as is the signature dish of lahpet thohk which turns umami-packed tea leaves into a unique textural salad. The pone yay gyi salad is another must-order, made using a home-fermented black bean paste that could be deemed Burmese miso.

Kiln

chicken with soy; claypot pork and crab glass noodles; beef neck curry 
yauwill/Instagram

From the same people behind Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat, in 2016 Kiln opened in Soho to even greater acclaim. It describes itself as serving regional Thai food “with influences from Yunnan and Burma” — Yunnan being the Chinese province which borders Burma. It’s worth grabbing a table near the eponymous kiln, before ordering the deservedly popular, fragrant Burmese wild ginger and short rib curry, which has a nice kick to it but then melts in the mouth.

chicken with soy; claypot pork and crab glass noodles; beef neck curry 
yauwill/Instagram

Lao Café

Perhaps a wild card. Lao Café does not in fact serve Burmese food at all, but those in the know flock to this bright cafe in Charing Cross. Regularly packed with Burmese diners, its hotpot dishes, especially tom zaap gadook moo (spicy sour pork ribs soup) are a close relative to the Burmese soup family chin yay hin, which might be regarded as Burmese penicillin. Lao Café’s spicy salads known as soops are also more redolent of Burmese a-thohk than the more well-known Thai yams or larbs. Order a hotpot, a salad, some grilled meat and some rice and it’s a more than decent approximation of a Burmese spread.

Related Maps