This meal has been a long time coming. We tried in the week leading up to Christmas, betting that it would be all Christmas parties and drunken debauchery that would keep the masses at bay for us to easily get a seat at Hoppers on Frith Street. It was a bad bet as most London restaurant critics listed it in their Top 10 Best New London Restaurant Lists that do the rounds at that time of year. We sucked it up and headed to our backup – Smoking Goat Soho – so not a bad effort overall.
This time we played things smartly. I left work at 5pm and had our name on the list by 5.15pm. They were still filling the tables up at that time and we made it onto the first few waves of people to get asked back. A shoutout needs to be made to their door booking system – if you get there early enough you can actually ask for when you would like your table (give or take half an hour), when a link gets texted to your phone and there begins a countdown of how many tables there are in front of you. Saves you that decision after 2 hours if you should get that extra pint, and as you get the ground back to your table you get that phone call stemming they will hold it for no longer than ten minutes…
Anyway – back to the review. The gang who opened this place have some great backing – Hoppers is backed by JKS Restaurants, owners of Gymkhana and Bao, so just 3 of London’s best Asian restaurants then. No Biggie. The space is a ramshackle offering with around 50 seats where in winter it seems as if you’re either siting on top of each other and banging elbows or perched on top of every other person’s jackets. But you’re here to eat so stop complaining.
What’s a hopper (£3) then you ask? It’s the bastard child of a crepe and a pancake in which you can add egg for an extra 50p. It comes served with pol sambol, seeni sambol and coriander chutney. Dig in with your hands and get those flavours gushing around in your mouth.
From the short eats section of the menu I couldn’t look past the goat roti with rasa (£6.50). Hot off the grill with some nicely spiced and tender goat meat.
Then the Kari’s started to arrive. That’s Curries to you an me. These all came in a blur, each so different to the other but every single one was punching above its weight with it’s complex spice route that was taking me with each mouthful. I know we had the red pumpkin kari (£5), lamb kari (£5) and my special inclusion of black pork kari (£6) but buggered if I know what photos go with what dishes. It’s what’s inside that counts anyway – and it doesn’t disappoint.
Then the dosa arrived (£3). We lived on these while living in Kuala Lumpur last year and these didn’t disappoint. Coming with dipping sauces of coriander chutney, tomato chutney and coconut chutney didn’t hurt proceedings either.
And if your a fan of sport shell crab then you can’t really go past the shellfish kothu roti (£11). This is some of the best food that doesn’t pull any punches in terms of spice but does it delicately and elegantly.
We were way too full to see if they did dessert and we stumbled back out into the cool night, quickly freezing ourselves with the sweat what had accumulated during our feasting. You really need to get here. To leave one of London’s best restaurants only £25 lighter is a miracle and each of our party declared that this was their new number one fervour restaurant in London. So if that doesn’t give you reason to visit then you’re a little dead inside.
Contact: Hoppers London – 49 Frith St, London W1D 4SG. Website.