The Sethi siblings (of Gymkhana and Brigadiers fame) hit the jackpot when they decided to introduce casual, small plates dining to Londoners en masse, and although the buzz around Hoppers has quelled, you can still expect to wait for a table in the evening. Luckily, the availability of a virtual queuing system means punters no longer have to physically hang around in Soho Square, while parties of between four and seven dining at lunchtime on weekdays can go one better by making a reservation.
Once inside, you’ll be rewarded with a buzzing, intimate space and an astoundingly good menu of “brilliant” Sri Lankan small plates at “very decent prices”. You’ll want to order the whole menu, but we’d suggest trying a few ‘short eats’ to start. We love the deeply meaty mutton rolls covered in crisp breadcrumbs, while the tongue-tingling tamarind and ginger chicken wings are a sticky, messy delight.
For the main event, pick one of the eponymous and “exceptionally good” hoppers (a bowl-shaped rice pancake with a gooey egg embedded in its base) or a sticky and crunchy dosa cone, then match it with your choice of curry – perhaps smoky charred ‘black pork’ or a sweet-tasting okra and plantain riff.
Order some roti bread to mop up any sauces that have managed to escape your grasp, while sipping on spice-infused cocktails from a concise collection – we like the lively Sambol Garita, which mixes green pepper Tequila with lime and toasted coconut salt.
Hoppers doesn’t do desserts, but sweet-toothed diners can get their fix from a frothy lassi-style drink which blends chocolate powder, coconut milk and spiced jaggery to create a concoction that would terrify your dentist. The best part? Hoppers is great value for money and you’re always made to feel welcome, thanks to accommodating features such as truly “lovely” service and a glossary of terms on the menu for the uninitiated.