Imagine a pancake crossed with a crepe, a bowl shape that’s bubbly and soft in the middle with edges that thin out to a golden crunch. You might call this bliss. Sri Lankans just call them hoppers, a street food snack that’s eaten from breakfast through to dinner.
Amma’s Modern Kitchen pumps out hoppers all day, at prices that’ll justify the trek to Toongabbie. The takeaway counter out the front does a brisk trade but hook a right into the dowdy but air-conditioned restaurant and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a gaggle of grandmas, couples and kids.
Service can be distracted and a little slow but patience will reward you with a trio of hoppers for just $5.90. It’s worth upgrading to the egg hopper ($9 for three), boosted with a gooey yolked egg in the middle. Your egg hoppers will arrive with cracked black pepper across the top and a dish of lunu miri chilli sambol on the side.
Sure you could use the cutlery provided but it’s much more satisfying to make like a local and eat with your hands. Tear off bite-sized pieces and dip them into the runny yolk. The faint tang you can detect is from the batter, which is made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. Don’t forget the sambol either, a fiery paste made from dried red chillies and flakes of smoked and dried tuna known as Maldive fish.
The hoppers here are some of the laciest we’ve tried, cooked super thin so that the edges maintain their crunch long after you’ve taken your mandatory Instagram photo. The sweet version is even better, sprinkled with jaggery dark palm sugar and a puddle of coconut cream. It’s like a coconut caramel dream.
And while you might be tempted to eat hoppers all day, it’d be a shame to skip the rest of Amma’s menu. Start with a Sri Lankan breakfast of pittu steamed rice flour and coconut cakes with curry, move onto a South Indian trumpet-sized masala dosai crepe stuffed with potato, and finish with a Malaysian beef rendang. Hop to it.