There’s an endless stream of restaurants that serve up lots of little tasting and sharing plates – Polpo, Sparrow, J Sheekey Atlantic Bar, El Pastor, Ceviche, Condesa and the like – many of which don’t take reservations and many serving many of the same cuisines. But Hoppers stands out from the crowd, and not just because it’s actually worth queuing for, it offers up a taste of Sri Lanka. Brought to us by the team behind Bao, Gymkhana, Bubbledog and Lyles, it has applied the Bao model to great success, with queues forming from about 5.30pm onwards.
The menu offers a selection of small plates of various curries, dosa, hoppers, chutneys and sambols. Helpfully if you can’t decide what to choose – and how could you with one mouth watering dish after another on it – they also offer a meat or vegetarian ‘Taste of Hoppers’ menu, which will satisfy you totally and leave you stuffed. Plus at £30pp it’s much better value than ordering half the menu a la carte:
Bonemarrow Varuval, Roti
Tamarind & Ginger Chicken Wings
Lamb Kothu Roti
Hopper or Dosa with Sambols – Yoghurt
The tamarind and ginger chicken wing is by far the best of a superb offering. It’s tender, moist, and balances the tangy spices and heat perfectly. Be sure to also try the Lamb Kothu Roti – a dry lamb curry of lamb, cabbage, other veg and strips of roti, it’s mild in flavour and will fill you up. The Bone Marrow Varuval is a light beautifully spreadably bone marrow covered in a coconut sauce that can be scooped up with a roti making for a beautifully meaty buttery mouthful. The Hopper, unsurprisingly, is their signature dish. A crispy bowl shaped pancake made of rice flour and coconut milk served with a curry, sambol, yoghurt and brinjal mojo (and long roasted aubergine and garlic pickle which is one of the best thing’s they serve).
Make sure you join the queue, it’s worth it. The staff are friendly and happy to help, the food comes at a good pace, not so fast it piles up too much but not so slow your left waiting. The ambiance is comfortable and vibrant, creating a more upmarket version of a street cafe in Colombo. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the queue, they do a quick lunch menu and every other Sunday you can book for their Sunday Session with a large family style sharing feast and homemade toddy. It’s certainly a place to head with friends as part of a night out – though if you go for the tasting menu you might prefer a snooze after rather than hitting the bars of soho you’ll be so full.
London Lamppost Rating(4.5 / 5)
Soho and St Christopher’s Place