Sri Lankan hoppers in Soho.
The Sethi family has once again captivated the capital with its latest restaurant Hoppers, offering enticing Sri Lankan street food.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, or have been stranded on a desert island with no Internet, you will have heard of Hoppers by now. If you haven’t, pay attention.
Hoppers is a small Soho café serving Sri Lankan street food, a cuisine still somewhat unknown to most Londoners, with a menu where dishes start at £3 and ascend to a maximum of £17.50. The new spot in Soho is brought to us by JKS Restaurants, the siblings behind Gymkhana, the UK’s best restaurant in 2014, Trishna, Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table, and Bao, an exciting café serving Taiwanese buns.
Sri Lankan cuisine has many influences due to its history involving invasions left right and centre from India, and its existence as a Portuguese, Dutch and British colony until independence in 1948. It’s probably closest to the food in southern India and its use of coconut and spices, but with distinct touches of its own. The warm and welcoming café seats 40 and is inspired by the roadside shacks of southern India and Sri Lanka. Designed by Katy Manolescue of Article Design Studio, it’s delivered in 50 shades of brown with cane chairs, jam-packed tables and patterned tiling.
Unsurprisingly, its popularity has gone through the roof, meaning that with its no booking policy, the queue tends to be lengthy. Not to worry though, they’ve introduced an app queuing system whereby you can leave your phone number in the queue and entertain yourself elsewhere until its your go to eat.
Now is when it gets really interesting and fun. Every corner of the enticing menu is a delightful surprise, with a simple 2-option base. Guests can choose from a series of small starters, then go for a kari (curry) accompanied by either a dosa, a South Indian pancake made with rice flour and lentils, folded and crisp, or a hopper, a bowl-shaped pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk.Hoppers (aka appams) are popular in Sri Lanka and South India both as breakfast fodder and as street snacks. There are also larger roasts and kothu dishes which all come with an abundance of rice.
The clear winners are its tender black pork curry, the flavour-packed duck roti, and the roasted chicken, of which they have a limited number available daily.
So if you haven’t already been, pop over for a kari or two and experience the vibrant textures and flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine. It’s fine dining for under £30.