In Myanmar, laphet thoke — fermented tea leaf salad — is a common dish. Ceremonially, it’s served in a lahpet ohk, a dish with separated little compartments of ingredients and toppings, so people can customize the dish to their liking. Kalvin Myint, co-owner of Top Burmese in Northwest Portland, loves the salad this way; at one point, the dish came in the little separate piles at the Burmese restaurant. However, over time, he and partner Poe Myint decided it made most sense to serve it pre-tossed.
Soon, the couple won’t have to choose. The team behind Top Burmese is opening a second restaurant in Beaverton, serving three versions of the fermented tea leaf salad along with other Burmese snacks, curries, and soups.
Bistro Royale is a looser, larger version of the original Northwest Portland restaurant. The menu will include a lot of overlap — the curry noodle soup khao soi, the Burmese curries known as ohn htamin — but Kalvin Myint is most excited about the snacks at Bistro Royale: “[At Top Burmese], we serve more traditional Burmese dishes,” he says. “Over there, we have more room to play around with the food.” For instance, Bistro Royale will serve a Burmese fried chicken nuggets with a tea leaf aioli dip, as well as whole roasted crickets with peanuts.
Some of Bistro Royale’s expanded menu will involve multiple versions of major hits: The tea leaf salad, for example, will come tossed and served in the ceremonial style, but it will also come in other variations: One version, which the couple calls “Ngapali Beach” style, comes with fried anchovies and fish sauce, while the “Shoo Share” style gets a substantial kick of spice. “It’s sort of the sound you make after you eat it, because it’s so spicy,” he says. Beyond the salads, the restaurant will also expand its samosa offerings, including a spinach-and-feta-filled version.
The restaurant itself, in the former First Street Taqueria space, will be far roomier than the Portland restaurant, with 56 seats and an expanded cocktail menu at the bar. The Myints want to fill the restaurant with tropical plants, and are consulting with Staghorn Mercantile to work on the plant design. Bistro Royale will open in April, to coincide with Burmese New Year, at 12655 SW First Street.
• Top Burmese [Official]
• Understanding the Origins of Top Burmese’s Famous Tea Leaf Salad [EPDX]
• Previous Top Burmese coverage [EPDX]