Hoppers London opened on the 28th of October 2015 replacing Koya (who were famed for cooking fresh udon noodles), by the Sethi siblings Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina. Maybe you know already, if you don’t there is a mention in my Bao London review 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 is their unique selling point. The snacks are 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. The casual affair continues with the exposed brick work, hand carved masks too. It’s a strictly ‘no-bookings’ restaurant, but stay with me here, as it’s actually worth queuing for.
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) – green hued, refreshing and doubles up as a palate cleanser.
Cashew, casava and ash plantain fry (£3). First up from the ‘snacks’ section, and it’s the kind of snack you need on the sofa watching your favourite movie. I mean that in the best possible way. The crisps were crunchy and lightly dusted with spice – dipped into the smokey, tangy, spicy sauce it came with, gave an addictive bite.
Idli, sambar, podi (£3.5). A South India steamed rice cake, nestled into sambar (vegetable stew) and all lifted by a ground spice they call podi.
Chicken heart chukka (£4.5). The hearts were cooked in a plethora of spices, caramelised with pieces of chicken thigh too. They 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. They were utterly brilliant.
Mutton rolls (£4.5 for 2 rolls). Crispy shelled snacks filled with gamey spiced mutton, all punched up with the tangy sambal dip it came with.
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. It was a great piece fo advice. A bowl shaped crispy pancake was what we got, with soft eggy centre, all made for dunking. The lamb kari was full bodied and punchy (£5.50) and delicious.
Red pumkin kari (£4). Juicy and fragrant – but probably the weakest dish.
Fish kari (£5.5). I forgot to ask what type of fish it is, but it matter as it was meaty and delicious.
We’ve been informed that you should rip pieces of the hopper to dip into the kari’s. We couldn’t stop.
Podi dosa (£3.5). So crisp you’ll hear the sound ricochet from ear to ear as you break into them. Again they’re made for scooping sauce. If you don’t order these you will miss out.
We ordered, by recommendation, some 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 sweet integrity of the 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, wax lyricalled at how good it was, which reminded me that we ordered them, but it didn’t come. Our waiter somehow omitted our order, this was quickly remedied with a portion arriving piping hot within minutes. Unctuous as well as creamy, scoop and spread it over the roti it comes with – it was one of the best things I blessed my mouth with in a while!
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, robustly spiced, fantastic ingredients and super fast service. I’m happy I’m not a Hopper’s 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