Hoppers Restaurant is the third South Indian restaurant of Karam, Jyoti and Sunaina Sethi, who are behind the Michelin rated Gymkhana and Trishna. Hoppers have confirmed that only the chicken and lamb is halal.
Hoppers offers rustic street food inspired by the roadside shacks of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, with the Hopper, which is colloquially known as “Aappam” and the Dosa being the focal point of their menu.
The interior of the establishment is small, only managing to seat 40 customers. Yet that still does not discourage a succession of people, who are willing to sit confined and uncomfortably next to strangers (which was exactly our experience) just to get their hands on what can only be described as some amazing food. The decor stays true to its roots by emulating the hopper and dosa shacks of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, with its wooden furnishings and ornaments, plus poster frames of South Indian films from a bygone era, providing a nostalgic ambiance.
We ordered the Egg Hopper; can’t visit Hoppers without trying their signature dish. The Egg Hopper is a thin, bowl-shaped pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk, with an over easy egg in the middle. The Hopper itself was pretty bland on its own (even though the runny egg with a generous sprinkling of cracked black pepper was delectable), thus it is usually consumed with an accompaniment. We choose a trio of chutneys, which were coriander, tomato and coconut chutney. The outright winner was the coriander chutney, which was truly sublime. Could have bathed in this marvellous elixir. The other two chutneys were nonetheless still very tasty.
We also ordered the Dosa, once again it would be rude not to. The dosa is made from a fermented batter of ground rice and lentils. The issue with this dish was that some parts of the dosa was so thin that its texture was more like a crumbly biscuit, with no flavour, whereas other parts tasted more like a sweet roti, which was delicate and delicious.
The “piece de resistance” for us was the ‘Lamb Kothu Roti’. The taste sensation was truly phenomenal. The lamb was so tender that is effortlessly dissolved in the mouth. The roti had a subtle sweet pasta like texture which brought further joy to the palate. The dish also consisted of scrambled eggs and assorted vegetables, which made it moreish and hearty. Furthermore, the cuisine had true authentic Sri Lankan spices, which injected the dish with a level of heat that made your tastebuds stand to attention, without defusing the other mouthwatering flavours. This was true street food.
Our only critique would be that there just wasn’t enough of it, with a few mouthfuls, the dish quickly reached its demise, causing our belly to mourn the loss, as it yearned for more.
Hoppers restaurant is one of these uncharacteristic establishments that remains true to its cultural and cuisine heritage. Not compromising its food to appease a Western palate, but instead offering authentic bold, rich, spicy, homemade style, flavoursome Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu cooking. The eatery has only been open a few weeks, yet its popularity is undeniable. The Midas touch of the Sethi family continues to reign supreme and we as food lovers are once again provided with a great gastronomical experience.