Malai Kitchen’s one-two punch: a new Fort Worth location, plus a Burmese Tea Salad that will knock you out

When was the last time you had a hankering for a big Burmese tea salad? Yeah, me neither. But apparently it’s a thing, which is one reason Malai Kitchen owners Braden and Yasmin Wages traveled to Burma to explore the intricacies of the dish themselves.

The Wages say they’ve had a bazillion requests for the crunchy, pungent salad, which is served at important ceremonies throughout Burma and known as lahpet.  But if you’re too busy to locate your passport or wait two days to try lahpet, the Wages have you covered.  The crunchy, sesame-laced salad is now on the menu at Malai Kitchen’s two locations (Uptown and Southlake).

Malai Kitchen’s version of lahpet stays true to its origins while nodding to the difficulty of sourcing fermented green tea leaves in Dallas, Texas. Theirs is a cabbage-based salad dressed with a creamy, fermented tea leaf compote imported from Burma, plus sesame oil, crisp-fried garlic, chickpeas, peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, dried shrimp, ginger, coconut, tomatoes, chiles and fried shoestring carrots.

There’s a bite of heat from the chiles, an umami hit from the dressing and tons of crunch. Think of it as an exotic Caesar salad. If you’re into kimchi and kombucha, this is a salad for you. If not, well, everything else on Malai Kitchen’s from-scratch menu is terrific.

And for dessert? The Wages tell me they’ve broken ground on a third Malai Kitchen, at Clearfork Ranch in Fort Worth, which they expect to open this fall.