Today’s place isn’t new, neither is it off the beaten track. It is quite the opposite actually! Hoppers has been open for a while, it has incredible reviews and it couldn’t be more central even if it tried. I still think it is worth sharing my first visit there with you so we can see together what the hype is all about.
On a rainy Saturday evening with slalomed through the Oxford Street crowd (aka hell) to find the small gap between two buildings heading to St Christopher’s Place. If you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t find it.
It was cold and wet but thankfully the walk from the station to Hoppers only took a few minutes. We were also very glad to be told that a table for two was available straight away! Hoppers is known for its rather long queue.
We were led to the basement which was warm and moody. The room set the scene for what was to come – authentic Sri Lankan food.
At first, we found the menu a bit overwhelming as we could only recognise every over word. Luckily Hoppers has thought of everything and if you flip the menu, you will find a glossary helping you chose your food at the back.
Not knowing how big or small the portions would be, we selected a couple of dishes in each category and shared everything. To be honest, it was A LOT of food, and retrospectively we both agreed we could have ordered one less starter plate and one less ‘chutney’ (keep reading you’ll understand in a minute).
We started with shrimp chips which were served with a dipping sauce, perfect to share while sipping in drinks while waiting for the food.
Andrew got a beer and I ordered Wattalapam milk knowing that I would need a milk-based beverage in case some of the dishes were too spicy. And thank god I did!
Now, this is a side note for French people or anyone who cannot really handle spicy food: some of the dishes were definitely a bit too hot for my liking and the Wattalapam milk helped tame the heat. If you can handle a bit of spice, you will be just fine!
For starters, we shared two ‘short eats’, the idly – sambar – podi (soup with a rice dumpling) and the Jaffna beef rib fry. We definitely preferred the beef dish and with the amount of food we ended up ordering we could have done with just that one.
We shared the seafood kothu, which was excellent and not spicy at all. The portion was extremely generous and both Andrew and I got a second helping out of it. So if you are going to Hoppers as a group of 3 or 4, one kothu will still be enough to share.
Our fourth course was a karis (Sri Lankan for curry). We went for the pumpkin one having already eaten both meat and fish in the previous courses. Our vegan week has been successful in teaching us to be more mindful and reduce our animal product intake.
The curry was good albeit a bit too spicy for me so my milky drink and a side of rice came very handy then.
We ended our meal with two of Hoppers signature dishes. An egg hopper with brinjal moju (pickled aubergine chutney). It was light, a bit sweet, a bit savoury and delicious.
I reached food coma mid-way through my half of the hopper so I had unfortunately very little of our final dish – a dosa. We ordered a podi dosa, which was fine, but I wish 1) we had ordered the regular one as the podi version was a bit spicy for me and 2) that I had eaten less at the beginning.
We skipped dessert as I was now in urgent need of a digestive walk.
I really enjoyed my visit to Hoppers! But next time I will order less food and take my time to enjoy the flavours more. I think that can be the downside of blogging about food, I want to share as much information as I can with you and sometimes it results in a severe case of food coma.