Having visited Sri Lanka twice in recent years I have become a huge fan of Sri Lankan cuisine and therefore I was keen to eat at Hoppers , a Sri Lankan restaurant that opened on Frith street in Soho towards the end of 2015, when I was back in the UK.
Another No-Bookings restaurant, I put our names down on the waiting list shortly after 6pm, eventually receiving an sms that our table was ready around 2.5 hours later, so I would advise you to head there as early as possible if you are intending to eat there at a reasonable hour!
The menu reads beautifully with plenty of “short eats” suitable for sharing as well as larger main courses; Bone Marrow “Varuval” with Roti (6) Duck Heart “Chukka” (5) Short Rib Buriani, Duck Egg Kari, Yoghurt & Brinjal “Moju” (17.50) or Goat Roti (6.50) and in our eagerness to sample as much of the menu as possible we probably over ordered by a dish or two!
We started with 2 of the “short eats” Hot Butter Devilled Shrimps (6.50) and Calamari Fry with Chemmeen Podi (8.50) I must say I was expecting the shrimps to be spicier, there was nothing wrong with them but they lacked the depth of flavour I have enjoyed so much in Sri Lanka.
Surprisingly, as I am not a huge squid fan, I found the Calamari Fry much more impressive. The spiced batter was perfectly cooked, the calamari was tender and the dried shrimp chutney (Chemmeen Podi) added a great hit of umami to the overall dish.
Next up was the Bone Marrow Varuval (6) and the Hoppers themselves; an Egg Hopper with Black Pepper Pork Kari (9.50) for me and the Chicken Kari & a Plain Hopper for Ellie (9)
The Bone Marrow was excellent, although temperature wise the Chettinad sauce could have been a little warmer. The flakery, buttery roti were so much better than I can find in Yangon and were the perfect accompaniment for dipping and spooning up the molten marrow with.
Again whilst it was undoubtedly good, I felt the Pork Kari lacked the rich depth of spicing I had been expecting. We ate a lot of Black Pepper dishes in Galle especially when I visited and to me at least, this was just lacking something… somehow.
The Egg Hopper on the other hand was absolute perfection. Far, far superior to any of the versions I ate in Sri Lanka, with the egg itself being similarly spot on. Really very good indeed and well worth going back for more, although next time I think I would try the Coconut Fish Kari (6) perhaps, or maybe one of the veggie options like the Gourd and Cashew Kari (5)
I can see why Hoppers has become so popular, It had a great buzz and it was certainly a fun experience that I would repeat. I would be interested to try more of the short eats as there were just so many that I wanted to try!
Dinner for 2 came to around 30 pp including cocktails and a very decent half bottle of their own label Barbera D’Asti for just 14 which seemed ridiculously good value indeed, I especially liked the creative label!
Whilst there is no shortage of great restaurants in Soho, Hoppers is definitely one to try, just be prepared to go hungry, early & queue!
49 FRITH STREET
LONDON W1D 4SG
MON – THUR
12 – 2.30PM
5.30 – 10.30PM
FRI – SAT
12 – 10.30PM