Hoppers London opened on the 28th of October 2015 replacing Koya (who were famed for cooking fresh udon noodles) by none other than the Sethi siblings Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina. Maybe you know already, if you don’t there is a mention in my Bao London that they are also behind Trishna, Gymkhana, Kitchen Table/Bubble Dogs and Lyles of Shoreditch. So what is it about? Well, it’s Sri Lankan and Tamil inspired street food, hoppers and dosas to be exact, traditionally served from road side shacks in their native origins. In case you’re wondering, they are bowl shaped pancakes made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Dosas may be more familiar territory which are a fermented batter of ground rice and lentils. It’s all enjoyed in a 40 cover intimate restaurant clad with patterned tiles, wood panelling and comes with a copper topped bar. It’s a casual affair with the exposed brick work, hand carved masks and and is a strictly ‘no-bookings’ restaurant.
The menu is easy to follow as is the drinks list – we’re off to a good start.
We commence with a glass of coconut water (£2.5) – a green hue, refreshing and doubles up as a palate cleanser.
Cashew, casava and ash plantain fry (£3). First up from the ‘snacks’ section and exactly what you need on the sofa watching your favourite movie. The crisps were crunchy and lightly dusted with spice – dipped into that smokey, tangy, spicy sauce they were addictive.
Idli, sambar, podi (£3.5). A South India steamed rice cake, nestled into sambar (vegetable stew) and all lifted by that ground spice they call podi.
Chicken heart chukka (£4.5). Cooked in a pletora of spices in hot pan these little chicken hearts with pieces of chicken thigh were my favourite thing to eat from the ‘snacks’ section. If organ meat isn’t your thing then I’d guarantee you’d be converted after eating this dish, deep flavour and spice a plenty here.
Mutton rolls (£4.5 for 2 rolls). Crispy exterior filled with that distinct gamey spiced mutton, dipped into that tangy tomato sauce it became finger fodder personified.
Hot butter devilled shrimps (£6.5). Beautifully spiced yet the sweet flavour of the shrimp still shone through. A winner and quite addictive.
Egg hopper (£3.5). It was recommend by our waiter to go for a hopper each with a kari – this we did not hesitate in doing. A bowl shaped crisp brittle pancake, already soft and spongy in the centre with that runny little sunrise, made for a perfect vehicle to soak up our little karis. With the little slithers of ginger on the side you can see the perfectly cooked and spiced lamb kari (£5.5).
Red pumkin kari (£4). Juicy and fragrant – not a preference though but I’m glad I tried it.
Fish kari (£5.5). I forgot to ask what type of fish it is, but who cares it was meaty and delicious.
We’ve been informed that you should rip pieces of that brittle hopper off and dip unapologetically into the kari’s. I had my own way but do it how ever you please – it’s awesome no matter how you skin that cat!
Podi dosa (£3.5). So crisp you’ll hear the brittle and snap as you break into them and made for scooping the residue sauce. If you don’t order these you will miss out.
Coriander, tomato and coconut chutneys to go with the dosas. Every other sauce we had could run circles around these (no pun intended). at £1 though you can’t grumble too much.
Crab kari (£10) is from the specials and is a must have dish – the integrity of the sweet crab flesh remains and is all coated in that finger licking thick, spicy aromatic sauce. So good!
Bone marrow varuval, roti (£4.5). A lovely diner who I sat next to at the bar area wax lyricalled at how good it was, which reminded me hat it was ordered from the ‘snacks’ but never arrived for us. When I discovered our waiter somehow omitted our order this was quickly remedied with a portion arriving piping hot within minutes. Unctuous as well as creamy, scooped and spread over that roti it was so good it would have to feature as a death row dish.
The damage: Expect to pay £30-£35 per head for a lot of food!
The good: Quite possibly the best curry I’ve had in London of recent times, piping hot, nicely spiced, fantastic ingredients and super fast service. I’m happy I’m not a hopper virgin anymore, if you eat here and aren’t happy there is no hope for you.
The bad: You can’t book, so I would suggest getting there a few minutes before opening time, just like us.
49 Frith Street London, W1D 6SG