Hoppers, St Christopher's Place
77 Wigmore St, W1U
WHAT AND WHERE? JKS Restaurants, the team behind Michelin-starred Gymkhana in Mayfair, has done it again, but with Sri Lankan street food in a more casual setting. This is the second Hoppers, as there’s another one down the road on Frith Street in Soho.
WHAT’S THE DEAL? There are two ‘Feast’ menus, a vegetarian one and a meaty one, both costing £29.50 per person and designed to be shared between two people (though they were perfectly willing to accommodate our awkward veggie/omnivore pairing).
WHAT SHOULD I ORDER? When the world gets too much, this menu is blissfully free of choice. There are banana chips, four sides, then it’s just up to you to pick a kari (a Tamil curry) or chops or ribs, then an accompanying carb. The best way to go is the titular hopper, a traditional Sri Lankan pancake bowl that’s spongey in the middle and crispy round the edges. A number of homemade dips, chutneys and sambols add further intrigue.
TOP DISHES? Crisp, steaming mutton rolls (think meat-filled spring rolls) with hot sauce were delectable finger food; bonemarrow in a dry spice mix smeared on a warm roti was surprisingly comforting; and a velvety prawn kari was a richly indulgent way to finish.
IS IT VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Like so much good Sri Lankan food, Hoppers is absolutely veggie friendly. The vegetarian feast menu starts out with a pair of crispy kappa cutlets, which are searingly hot spiced vegetable patties, a buttery corn on the cob and a pillowy light idli rice cake swimming in a sweet lentil kari. After that you’ve a choice between an aubergine, bean and okra kari or a more lightly spiced cauliflower one, which is great if those spicy cutlets got you feelin’ all sweaty. Grab a hopper and use it to scoop it all into your face.
NEED TO BOOK? Yes, Hoppers is hot stuff in more ways than one. Call 0203 319 8110 or visit hopperslondon.com.
THE VERDICT: Hoppers is so good we frequented the Soho restaurant later that weekend with friends to eat the stuff we didn’t order the first time around. It’s an inspired celebration of Sri Lankan cooking, and the ideal lunchtime destination for those who don’t mind spending the rest of their afternoon daydreaming about the food they ate.