On my way to Hoppers at St Christopher’s Place my expectations were very high. Just like Dishoom before it, there was a lot of hype around the restaurant, with queues extending out the door every day for a seat inside.
I’d never actually tried Sri Lankan food before and was expecting something similar to the Pakistani and Indian cuisine that I’m used to but there was a lot on the menu I’d never seen.
Hoppers’ head chef Suresh Pillai recently competed on BBC’s MasterChef and I was lucky enough to meet him in person on the night. He is a very polite and humble man who simply longs for people to enjoy good food like he does. Despite the heaving restaurant, he took some time out to introduce himself and made us feel very welcome.
To start off, we decided to try George Gardner G&T made with mango leaf and kaffir lime – it was sensational! Strong and flavourful, we couldn’t resist ordering another.
If the drinks were that good, then we couldn’t wait to try the food, especially with the fragrant aromas that were beginning to fill the restaurant. I was very pleased when the table started filling up too with dish upon dish of new foods I couldn’t wait to experience (and even happier when I realised that these were just the starters!).
Out of a selection, I particularly loved the calamari and the mutton rolls made with dry mutton curry, potatoes, spices and chillies wrapped in fried filo pastry with breadcrumbs. But my favourite has to be the bone marrow curry. I remember my mother trying to feed me bone marrow as a child and I hated the taste, so I was hesitant to try it again but I’m so glad I did. The sauce had a velvety, smooth texture and the marrow was simply divine.
Then came the mains! We had pots of taster curries and a variety of dosas and hoppers to try. I was very intrigued by the “kottu roti” dish consisting of chopped up parotta and lamb with vegetables, eggs and spices – I’d never eaten in that way before, usually just tearing up a piece of roti with a curry on the side rather than all mixed into one.
I also enjoyed the giant dosas that were so light to eat and accompanied all the curries beautifully. The prawn curry had a lovely kick to it, the aubergine curry was smokey and the cauliflower curry was creamy to soothe the tastebuds amongst the spices.
The best part for me though was one of the simplest foods. Coconut shavings mixed with red chilli, garlic, onions, lemon juice and salt, eaten with a crispy dosa. It was very moreish and if it weren’t for the endless trays of tasters, I may well have eaten the whole pot.
Dessert consisted of two sweet drinks: a Sri Lankan take on piña colada and my favourite, mango lassi. Thick, creamy and indulgent, they were the perfect way to end the meal.
One of the best parts of all was feeling comfortably full at the end without feeling heavy and slow. The food at Hoppers is so light and unlike a usual Indian curry that leaves me unable to move afterwards.
Huge thank you to Nesan from NC Supper Clubs for organising this and allowing us to taste the entire menu!
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