Location: London, England (3 locations)
Cuisine: Sri Lankan / South Indian
This review is 99% referring to the Hoppers location in Soho, but I’ve now also been to the King’s Cross location and I’ll discuss that experience a bit further down. Now, onto Soho!
The Hoppers in Soho is the first Hoppers site, inspired by the village toddy shops of Sri Lanka. This location was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016, so needless to say I was quite excited to try this place out. Before starting on dishes we ordered some drinks. My friend, Ioana, and I went for the White Ruby Punch, consisting of white port, Ceylon Arrack (a traditional Sri Lankan spirit distilled from the sap of the coconut flower), white tea (meaning minimally processed tea), jasmine and basil seeds.
Our first dish to arrive was the Idli + Sambhar + Chutney. Idli are a type of savoury rice cake, usually eaten at breakfast time. It’s the perfect dipper to dive into sambhar, a lentil stew, and some delicious green chutney.
Karan Gokani, one of the founders of Hoppers, once stated that there are some legendary dishes in Sri Lanka and devilled food is one of them. The “devilled” descriptor comes from the fact that there are plenty of Chinese-India dishes throughout Sri Lanka. Hoppers created a paneer version, and so the Devilled Paneer was born. It’s an awesome dish, combining wonderful flavours from the paneer, chillies and red onion.
Next up we had the Plantain + Moju Cutlet. Moju is pickled aubergine jam, a speciality in Sri Lanka.
We ordered a trio of different bread-like companions, including an Egg Hopper, plain Dosa and plain Roti. Hoppers, for which the restaurant is named, are bowl-shaped crêpes made from fermented rice and coconut milk. Dosas are crêpes too, but they are instead made from fermented lentils and rice and come folded over on themselves. Roti is a type of flatbread and the perfect accompaniment to curry.
Now we enter the world of Karis. Kari is the Tamil word for curry. We opted for two curries, the first being the Tamil Aubergine Kari. Our second curry was the Fish Kari. Both were delicious, but I have a strong preference for the fish curry. I think that fish curry is one of those dishes that either can be absolutely revolting or the highlight of the meal. Luckily, Hoppers serves the latter.
Accompanying the curries was some fluffy Pilau Rice and two condiments: Pol Sambol and Tomato Chutney. Pol sambol is essentially a spicy coconut relish, made up of shredded coconut, smoked fish, onions and red chillies. Both were divine and really enhanced the dishes.
Needless to write but nonetheless, Hoppers was absolutely delicious. As I mentioned, I also visit the King’s Cross location. This space looks a bit different as it’s inspired by the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, from Colombo, the island’s capital, to the historical Dutch town of Galle. This time around I was with a massive group of work friends for the Christmas Party as it was such a fun place to play host. We ordered some favourites like deviled panner and the fish curry, but one major highlight from this location is the Chukka Butter Grilled Sea Bream. Chukka is a dry and spicy Indian curry. The spices used in this curry are mixed with the butter and then the seabream is cooked in this delicious butter. It was absolutely delicious.
Sri Lankan food is really having a moment in London. Hoppers specifically has appeared on all sorts of top restaurants in London lists, and I couldn’t agree with its inclusion more. Don’t miss out!
Have you had Sri Lankan food before?