Hoppers

Restaurants, Indian Soho
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(22user reviews)
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8/8

A Soho restaurant featuring dishes inspired by Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

‘Come back to my place’, shouted my Uber driver. ‘We’ll look after you!’ This exchange, back in May, was more innocent than it sounds. Having found out that I was half Sri Lankan (upon which he immediately high-fived me, causing the car to lurch thrillingly to one side), my Colombo-born taxi driver was now trying to solve my personal problems, namely how long it had been since I’d last had a decent hopper. 

These bowl-shaped savoury crepes, you see, are technically a breakfast item. So attempting to order them in a traditional Sri Lankan restaurant at the ‘wrong time’ is typically met by a baffled expression. Hence his offer to drive us to his place in Hendon, where his wife would cook. If I weren’t already running late, I might just have said yes. (And by the way: inviting a total stranger to your house for food is completely normal behaviour in Sri Lanka).

But now I wouldn’t have to. The Sethis, who are basically Midases of the restaurant world (Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Bao are just three of their restaurants), have only gone and opened a Sri Lankan restaurant, specialising in…well, you know. 

And it is an absolute joy. As you might expect from a no-bookings joint in Soho, it’s small but stylish, effortlessly mixing old and new. Exposed brick meets wood panelling; pretty patterned tiles meet carved-wood devil masks. The menu, likewise, gives traditional Sri Lankan street food a fashionable lift. Slender breaded and deep-fried mutton rolls came with a ginger, garlic and chilli ‘ketchup’. A dinky dish of roast bone marrow with a fiery ‘dry’ sauce and buttery roti was disturbingly delicious, as was an unapologetically spiced guinea fowl curry. The egg hopper had a soft-middled yolk at its base, but crunchy batter at the top: this is no mean feat. 

String hoppers (steamed rice noodle ‘pancakes’) came with not just a classic mild coconut pouring curry but with a terrific fresh coconut sambol. To finish, watalapam (spiced ‘set’ coconut custard) was exceptional, even if the slice was the smallest I’ve ever seen. 

This I can live with. But what did leave a bad taste was the relentless upselling from the otherwise exceptional staff. Tone this down and Hoppers might just be one of the best new spots in London. Mr Uber should bring his wife. 

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Hoppers
Contact:
Address: 49 Frith Street
London
W1D 4SG
Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, 5.30-10.30pm
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Rd or Leicester Square
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To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:13
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|22
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elladacas
tastemaker

There's been so much noise regarding hoppers I honestly didn't expect it to live up to all of it......boy was I wrong! They are serving some of the most delicious sri Lankan food in all of the land!!! Aka London. I don't want to harp on one specific dish because honestly ....everything I repeat EVERYTHING was so yummy!!! The only thing was that we had to wait a long time for a table but honestly it was so worth it.

RE.K

Hard to find a table - after many attempts, we managed to get a table and loved the food.

Staff's advice was very helpful.

VanessaK
tastemaker

Very tasty stri-lankan food that's a little bit over priced for the size of the portion. Many gluten and dairy free options and friendly staff. It's a challenge to get in, since they don't take any bookings, so either come in early or be prepared to wait at least an hour (they have a bench outdoor or you can grab a drink somewhere else and they'll text you when the table is about to be ready)

Laura G
Tastemaker

This little Sri Lankan gem requires a little patience and strategy to get a table, but it's well worth the planning. With a couple of signature gems like the hopper, a tangy mixture of a pancake and dosa made with fermented yogurt, and the kothu, an all you can mix dish with pieces of pita bread and loads or herbs, it is all packed with flavor in here. Choose one of the curries to go along, and a trio of little sauces to complement each dish. If hungry, don't miss out on the Wattapalan Milk, a true version of a granola bar in a consistent and delicious shake. To get a table, get there spot on as they open at 5:30 PM, or come with time to leave your name and go for drinks somewhere before it's time for your table - during busy times, this can be a 2-hour wait, so come prepared! 

Angela L

We came here early on Wed evening, around 6pm and we got a table straight away (well one of us got there first to put our name down). They don't let you have a table unless the whole party is present. This place is VERY popular with those in the know as well as to Indians so... you know it's good. Pricing is very reasonable and the egg hopper is just the best with the chutney... and the Kari!

Ed. T
Tastemaker

This place is absolutely worth the hype. Turned up at 11.45 for lunch and was already faced with a queue of 10/15 people, and luckily managed to slip in as the first wave of diners at lunch.


The food is SO good here, the service is perfect and the price is so on point. Mutton rolls are a MUST eat, as is the bonemarrow varuval. the varuval wasn't as punchy as I thought it would be, the flavours here are surprisingly subtle and deep rather than in your face and blowing it off with spice. 


How can a hopper taste so damn good? It's just basically a crepe. But somehow, SOMEHOW, these guys manage to turn it into one of the greatest single things you can find to eat in London. Seriously, it's THAT good. The dosa is good too but hoppers are the shit.


Black pork curry was very good, and the whole roast chicken (pictured) was incredibly good, tender and juicy and packed with flavour. Plus actually, those flatbreads it comes with are really damn good 


Didn't drink a huge amount here, but did try the masala buttermilk. It's basically a savoury lassi...not "horrible" but definitely not my sort of drink...

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

Turn up at 11.55 for an early lunch and you'll avoid the queues. Simple menu but executed extremely well with a friendly service and atmosphere. 

Parklife
tastemaker

The 1st anniversary event last Sunday was the first time I have been lucky enough to attend this Sri Lankan restaurant. I was impressed from the outset. The keen yellow polo shirted staff were energetic and extremely helpful. The dark wood panelling and tiled toilets gave this place some old world glamour. Amongst all the items presented during this event, the meat kothu roti (finely chopped roti cooked with meat and vegetables) stood out. It was also the first time I had been presented with the eponymous 'Hopper', a bowl shaped fermented rice and coconut milk pancake. The fried egg in the middle was an Instagrammer's paradise. This was delicious and has educated me beyond my usual dosas. The food was spicy hence the need for four bottles of tap water during our meal there. However, it was not uncomfortable. Although a ticketed event that evening, there were several people that were turned away. They obviously thought that the queues were non existent! I would definitely brave the hordes to come back.

Sarah R
tastemaker

Hoppers is one of those places that brings me excitement. It is this kind of little restaurant gems that makes you want to tell all of your friends how great the place is, but at the same time you want to keep it for yourself because you feel like it is ‘your’ place.
It isn’t just ‘my’ place, that’s for sure. I wasn’t the only one that go the memo about how amazing this place is. When I came to the restaurant there was quite a substantial line and people were being added to the waiting list. They have modern ways to update the waiting list and you are sent a link on your phone to follow the progress of waiting list. More or less, don’t expect to wait less than an hour. The wait is definitely worth is because I had the most delicious shellfish kothu roti. It was so good I still can’t over the fact how delicious it was.

Hoppers is now permanently on my list of my favourite restaurants and I am fearful that will get overly popular and it will be impossible to ever get a table

Sheens86
Tastemaker

I bet you've thought about coming here for ages and when you finally did, you were told it would be a 1.5 hour wait? Well, let me tell you now, go kill that 1.5 hours in a bar somewhere and get yourselves back to this joint!

Pretty small place, crammed with as many tables as chairs as possible that you may end up sharing a table much like Wagamama's but you don't really notice ... unless you've ordered LOADS and encroach on your neighbours table space; be ready to get some looks if that happens.

The food is so worth that wait though, the Kothu Roti, the egg dosa and the Chicken kari ... *drool*. The cocktails are also pretty nice and the staff were great at advising what and how much to order. Between the 3 of us, we ordered a dosa each, one kari and one kothu, all of which was plenty ... I could definitely go for that kothu right now.

Anaelle
Tastemaker

Best Sri Lankan place in London by far! And I'm half Sri Lankan...


Food is delicious. Contrary to other restaurants that sometimes tone down the meal to adapt to British palates, Hoppers serves authentic dishes, full of spices and seasoning without being overly hot. You can order normal mains, but I’d recommend choosing the small street food dishes and sharing. Try the egg hoppers, dosas or string hoppers. They’re very tasty and can come with a side of chutneys or samols. As a dessert I’d recommend the Vatallapums, spicy and sugary but not sickly-sweet.


As for the décor, it’s Sri Lankan but not over the top kitsch. A few traditional masks and movie posters give a nice vibe to the place. Staff is also extremely friendly and always happy to help if you don’t know what to order. It is sometimes very busy so you might find it a bit tight and claustrophobic when sharing a table with other customers.


Only real downside though is the no reservation policy (yeah, one of those!), but the queue moves on quickly. We were told we would have a 45 minutes wait when we arrived for dinner but received a text 20 minutes later telling us our table was ready, so don’t despair!

Jennifer S
Tastemaker

Excellent veg food, although the selection is far more limited if you're adverse to spice like me. As for the legendary queues, we got there Saturday around 4:30pm and waited for maybe 10 minutes before we were called in.


As for the food: I got the string hoppers with the accompanying sauces, the proper hopper with the coriander, coconut and tomato chutneys and the pol roti (grilled coconut roti) with gourd and cashew kari. The second hopper in particular is quite large and satisfying, with the coconut flavour quite mild, and the coriander chutney is the perfect accompaniment. 


The kari is a small portion with the cashew flavour really standing out. The roti though was a a bit bland. 


I'm dinging a star just bc the service was OK; our waiter forgot about our waters and we had to flag down another waitress. Ditto with the check. 

Ims C

Everything I have read online about Hoppers has been so positive apart from the queueing time but I was happy to put that aside as I have queued for other restaurants such as Dishoom and it has been well worth it. I had high expectations and initially I was impressed by the interior and immediate buzz in the atmosphere. However thereafter I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed. My disappointment stemmed mostly from my first interaction with our waitress who made it clear that we had to order drinks. starters and mains altogether otherwise we would not recieve our food in a timely manner. I therein felt unwelcomed and at pressure to have to order, eat and leave which made the whole experience far too rushed.

Whilst the starters (some of the best mutton rolls I have eaten compared to many I have eaten in Sri Lanka) which came quickly were very good, again unfortunately the rest of the meal was lacking flavour and by all account didn't have the exciting factor I was expecting. The buffalo biriyani was pleasant but the fish curry was bland, had one piece of fish in it and lacked a depth of flavour. The sambols accompanying the hoppers were so small that the taste was hard to obtain. The hoppers themselves were huge and the base far too thick - I felt they were too big but probably due to the fact that they were priced at £3 per hopper!

The worst part of the evening was when we were still finishing our cocktails (which were very nice) and the waitress simply placed the bill on the table even though we hadn't actually asked for it!

It was disappointing overall and far from what I was expecting. Yes, there were queues outside but that will always happen when you don't take bookings but that doesn't mean that those customers who are sitting and enjoying their meal should be rushed and pressurised into leaving as that ultimately leaves a sour taste. And, whilst sometimes that is palatable overall the food was also disappointing and overall led to a disappointing experience. Whilst the ambition is there to make Sri Lankan food existing I think this unfortunately fails to hit the mark.

Dave L

A good addition to the Soho dinning scene. Over hyped and definitely not worth the ridiculous queues but the food is good and the atmosphere and service pleasant. 

Lilli
Tastemaker

I went to Hoppers for the first time last week to see what all the hype was about. I came early, thank god, and only had to wait for about 40 minutes. Other people who arrived after us were given an estimated waiting time of 2 hours!

That said, they give you the possibility to track your position in the queue in real time and text you when your table is ready and needs to be claimed within about 10 minutes which is a great system for such a busy restaurant.

But enough about the waiting time! Our experience was very good. The cocktails were good, but could have been a bit stronger. For food, we each ordered an egg hopper with a curry and a starter to begin with. 

The bone marrow starter was insane! One of the best things I've ever eaten and such a good portion! In comparison, the lamb curry lacked a bit in size, but it was still delicious.


I definitely want to come back again soon and I think I might go for 2-3 of the delicious starters then. I'm not 100% convinced by the hoppers.

Gavin K

It was probably only a matter of time before the humble hopper started to make an impact on Instagram. The golden yolk in the middle of an eye catching, bowl-shaped pancake, presented on a gold tray complete with exotic banana leaf and a selection of colourful curries, chutneys and sambals, set off nicely by the dark wood table setting. Thankfully alongside being very photogenic, the food also tastes very good. The hoppers themselves are mostly vehicles for the other dishes described, and there was little to let the side down. Dosas provide a similar function, and the podi version is coated in a mix of spices which ensure it packs as much of a punch as whatever you dip it in. 'Short eats' are also excellent and bring more variety to the table. Bone-marrow varuval and chicken heart chukka were my personal favourites. I was a little disappointed to hear that desserts (which I had heard were very good) are no longer offered. Something cool and fruity would be a nice refreshment after the rich and spiciness that comes before, but I suppose those waiting for a table behind me were probably thankful for the omission. Getting a table here can be a challenge, but by getting in early I was seated straightaway, albeit slightly awkwardly as the middle two on a table of six. Sri Lankan food has long been overlooked despite the prevalence of their Indian neighbours, so its great to see it being given its chance to shine amongst the other Soho hotspots.

Captain

I was there with my team on a cold winter after noon. We were given a nice service. The food was great and tasty. A bit crowded at times and hard to get a table. However the down side is you will be charged separately for the chutneys (those little colourful things you see in the little pots). Other than that, the taste is very authentic. A nice authentic South Indian restaurant in the middle of Soho.

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

How do you feel about waiting 2 hours for a table at one of the hottest new tickets in town?


Honestly, it depends on context. Dining alone on a random Tuesday night, you might find that a bit too much to ask for. Dining with a friend on a Friday night with lots to catch up on and drinks available at a nearby wine bar might make it seem a bit more doable. Opening last autumn, Hoppers on Frith Street is exactly the kind of place where context becomes important because unless you rock up at opening time – and even then I imagine you’d need a certain amount of luck to guarantee a speedy seating– you ain’t gonna get in without a certain amount of determined hanging on for that all elusive table.

I love all types of spicy food – even if I’m not the slightest bit hungry, the vaguest scent of turmeric, cumin & curry powder makes me want to hunt down their origins with the steely & unshakable focus of Liam Neeson in ‘Taken’ – so the opportunity to try something new, in this case Sri Lankan food, was cause for much excitement last week. Launched by the creative & culinary team behind Gymkhana, the restaurant itself is intimate and warm in décor and being seated in the window gave us privacy from neighbouring tables and the opportunity for the hungry hordes outside to gawk at our plates like Victoria’s Secrets Angels at a Pizza Hut window 24 hours before the catwalk show.


Great service from the get go marks Hoppers out as somewhere that values its diners and in a world of overblown openings from overdone chefs, this is important. Friendly and welcoming staff take your name and number and text once a table is ready; equally happy and amiable staff welcome you once you make it inside. Explanations of dishes are offered and helpfully there is a clear & welcome glossary on the menu itself.


We started with the Cashew, Cassava & Ash Plantain Fry mix – at turns crunchy, spicy & moreish – alongside String Hoppers with Kiri Hodi (a mild coconut sauces) & Pol Sambol (a Sri Lankan relish made with fresh ground coconut, Maldive fish & red chilli) which was almost like a very light noodle patty. 


Main wise, your options are either the titular hoppers (incredibly light and crispy fermented coconut & rice milk pancakes in the shape of bowls) or dosas (fermented lentil & rice crepes folded into the most delicate & golden cones). Pick one, add an egg if you like – and I urge you to believe me when I say it’s fan-freaking-tastic! – then select a curry and you’re all set for a beautiful foray into the world of Sri Lankan cuisine. I went for the duck and it was gorgeously tender in a sauce that was vibrant with flavour but didn’t blow my head off…nothing worse than curry which destroys your taste buds to anything coming along afterwards. I wish we’d been offered desserts as I’d heard good things but couldn’t see anything on the menu but I’ll take that as a reason to come back again.


With starters ranging in price from £3.50 – 7.50 and mains topping out around the £10/11 mark, one of Hoppers’ big pluses is its unequivocal value for money. I love London for continuing to bring the food of the world to my doorstep and this first taste of the world of elegant & subtle Sri Lankan spices is one I will definitely be exploring again.



Hammertime
moderatorStaff Writer

Lunchtime here buzzes in they way you expect from a no reservation, communal table hot new opening in Soho. The service is friendly and food full flavoured delight. Helpfully there's a dictionary explaining the names of all the dishes, so if you've got no idea you don't have to ask or just take a gamble (like I would). It's not an overwhelming portion size so order more than one dish if you want to fill up. Will definitely be going back to try more.

Dee
Tastemaker

This is one of the reasons Soho is my favorite hood to eat! Hoppers offers Sri Lankan street food in a cosy little bustling eatery. I read that the waiting times are up to an hour but i went on a monday, after lunch rush hour and just walked in and was offered a table. The Egg Hopper was a little underwhelming after hearing so much about how amazing it was. The lamb kothu roti was delicious, spicy and fragrant.My mouth was on fire so i HAD to order a dessert to cool off and the waitress suggested roasted rice kulfi with pandas jelly which worked! Overall a good experience and i'd definitely go back to try more!

David Clack
moderator

Utterly, astonishingly good. Sure, it's one of those pesky no-bookings deals, but at least they let you put your name down and send you a text when your table's ready (Dog and Duck is probably the best nearby option for pre-dinner pints). So you'll not be queueing in the cold like a chump, unless that's your idea of fun. 


The food is excellent. Everything – everything – we tried was delicious, curiously flavoursome and spiced just right. It's best to take a few people along with you and order a selection of starters, curries and the pricier, bigger dishes. Everything arrives pretty quickly, so if you decide you've under-ordered, it's no hassle to call for reinforcements. Even the desserts were stunning.


My one criticism is the poor beer selection – a single, run-of-the-mill Sri Lankan lager for £4.50 a bottle. I'm sure nobody would call the restaurant out for being inauthentic if they put a few local craft options on the menu.


A stunning experience, and great value, too, at around £33 a head. GO.

Will S

Wow! I have wanted to check out this place since it opened but it is always packed. The wait was around 1 hour but you can put your name down at the door and grab a drink nearby. We ordered a mix of dishes and a Hopper or Dosa each with a variety of Karis and the portion sizes are perfect for sharing. All really tasty and different but on the slightly spicy side which was great for me but some may need a glass of milk on the side. I recommend the Bone marrow Varuval, Egg Hopper and any of the Karis. Make sure you order extra roti because it is that good!