Hoppers, Soho, London
One of my absolute favourite restaurants in London is Hoppers. And I’m not alone there, there is a constant stream of fans also queuing for this authentic Sri Lankan experience. Expect to wait some time if you’re coming during the usual dinner and lunch rush. It gets hectic!
If full, it’s a process of leave your details and they’ll message you and on a chocka day that could be more than an hour. I enjoy looking at the shocked faves as if people assumed they could slip right in. It’s a pain that’s worth it though! One of the reasons it’s so busy is due to being awarded (and renewed) a Michelin Bib Gourmand. But the more important reason is it offers fast, tasty, consistent, Sri Lankan-styled food that is a huge step beyond the norm.
There’s actually two Hoppers outlets now, the other is in St Christopher’s Place. That might erode some of the mania around it. But hand to heart, it has become one of my favourite London dining destinations in my short while here. So far, I’ve been three times and I was fortunate enough to work next door on Frith Street. It’s not an experience for every occasion, it’s loud, fast, and there’s a sense of not taking too much time so other people can enjoy the experience too.
With those three visits I am getting much better at the ordering. So a base curry and a hopper is the first thing you should get. The conical dosa is fine if you prefer something with a bit of crunch. The first time I had the spicy one which was serious spicy. And then make sure you get the egg hopper, that’s basically with one cracked in and it’s makes it much more fun.
Of the menu, I quite like the root vegetable kari (£6), but all of them were solid. It’s also nice to have a few sides and pickles as well for a nice, diverse plate, and it’s worthwhile sharing a few starters. I haven’t yet tried them all but everything has been fab.
Try the chicken lollipop chukka (£6) or the taro, cashew and ash plantain fry (£3.50) The drinks are wildly fun check out the Wattalapan Milk (£5.50) for something a more refreshing.
It’s extremely suitable for vegetarians and gluten intolerants, much of the menu (including the best parts already are by default). I sampled the Vegetable Kothu Roti (£9) on my last visit and this is a nice vegetable-based with bits of roti stir fry. Much tastier than it sounded.
Prices are more than reasonable at Hoppers and despite the long waiting time, it’s a speedy exit as well. Substantially better than the other Sri Lankan I’ve had at say, Pavlov’s Duck back in Melbourne.