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Review: Hop to Hoppers

Hopper's has been a huge hit with Londoners, the Sri Lankan aspired food, with fresh spice flavours served in a cool lively restaurant and at a low price point is a winning formula. The team behind the restaurant also run two Michelin starred Indian restaurants, Gymkhana and Trishna, and the equally popular Bao, a Taiwanese ‘bao’ restaurant. Both Bao and Hoppers have a similar vibe, small, cosy lively and friendly staff serving well priced ‘authentic’ food. And both have queues outside day and night.

Whereas Bao’s menu centres around little buns filled with tasty ‘Asian fusion’ fillings. Hoppers is all about Sri Lankan food. The menu is broken into four parts. Starters, dosa/hoppers, karis (curries) and large plates. If you’re dining as a couple the idea is to order 2-3 starters, a dosa, a hopper, and a couple of curries.

Cocktails mix British and Sri Lankan ingredients

But first up, let’s have a drink. You’re probably not going to sit down for long at Hoppers, it’s a 30 minute visit at best, so don’t expect to order a full bottle of wine and settle in for the night. Instead try one of the house cocktails. These have a British colonial feel to them. Base spirits of gin and a local spirit, arrak, which is made from fermented coconut flower sap. These are mixed with local Sri Lankan ingredients such as lemongrass, peppercorns, passionfruit, pineapple and of course, Ceylon tea. If cocktails aren’t your thing they also have a couple of Sri Lankan beers and house red and white wine served by the glass and half bottle. For teetotalers, there’s Black Pepper Cream soda, kappi and of course tea. We opted for a Tappers Tipple with Ceylon arrack, toasted rice and bitter wine, and the Colombo No. 7 Gin & Tonic with cinnamon, curry leaves and cardamom tonic. Both delicious and with enough bite to cut through any curry.

Now, let’s eat….

Bone Marrow Curry with Roti

Starters: Bone Marrow Varuval with Roti. The marrow was falling off the bone and delicious, and the curry sauce was a reminder of heavy gee (fatty) curries we’ve had in India. You really need the roti to mop up the fragrant curry sauce. One of these is more than enough to share, with enough calories to power an afternoon walking around Soho.

Mutton Rolls with sambal sauce

Mutton rolls. Mutton gets a bit of bad wrap sometimes, but in India and Sri Lanka it’s a common ingredient. Owing to Hindu religion in both countries, you’re not going to see any beef on the menu, they’re the sacred cows after all. Mutton has a similar taste to beef in that it’s a strong meaty flavour and therefore a good substitute.. These little rolls were stacked with mutton goodness, with good spice flavour and their little fried wrappers had a crunch without being too fatty. Dipped in the generous tomato-based chilli sauce and we were started to fall for Hoppers, which was great, because next up; hoppers and dosas.

Dosa with chutney and Black Pork Curry

Our favourite chutney was the coriander, nice spice and full on funky coriander flavor, honestly the other three didn’t really knock our socks off, but they are an accompaniment to the curry to take the edge off a little, so in that regard they shouldn’t really be mind blowing. The dosas are exactly like the ones we had in India. Large with one side crunchy and the other a little soft. This makes them perfect for scooping up curry and dipping into the chutney. We’ve never had a hopper before, but these will not be our last, they were even better than the dosa. Light, crunchy and with a gooey egg in the middle.

Hopper with an egg, chutney and fish curry

The two curries, black pork and fish, were delicious. The fish curry was coconutty with nice firm pieces of mackerel. Whereas the pork curry was more what a lot of British would recognise as a curry; meaty, with good strong spice. These aren’t the hottest curries, they’re more balanced and designed to hit you with flavour not blow your head off with heat. Mix the egg with the hopper combined with the fragrant and spicy curry, we can see why there’s a queue outside.

Hoppers doesn’t offer a booking service, but you can either turn up early to get a seat or come later, put your name on the list, you can go get a drink nearby and they’ll txt you when your table is ready.

All up we spent £53 for two cocktails, two starters, a dosa, a hopper and two curries. For Soho and these flavours, this is a bargain!

View Hoppers in our London eating guide

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