The Sethi siblings – the team behind Gymkhana and Trishna – have turned their attention to street food. Their new venture, a 36 cover restaurant, is inspired by the family home cooking and roadside boutiques of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, with the hopper and dosa at the heart of the menu.
The interiors, designed by Katy Manolescue of Article Design Studio, will feature warm terracotta tiles, a woven rattan ceiling and ochre brick wall finishes. Raksha masks – the vibrant demon faces used widely in Sri Lankan festivals and dances and said to ward off evil – Sri Lankan poster art and Tamil comic imagery will adorn the walls while pineapple and money plants should breathe an exotic air into the room.
Hoppers’ namesake dish will be made in the traditional way with a batter of ground white rice and coconut milk. Cooked in a special wok-type vessel known as an appachatti the batter forms a bowl shape pancake with a spongy centre and crisp edges that can then be filled with a black pepper podi.
Each hopper will be served with choice of meat, seafood or vegetable kari and accompanied by three sambols: Pol (made with freshly scraped coconut flesh), Seeni (with a caramelised onion base) or Katta (made with red chilli, onion and Maldive fish).
Dosas will be made from a rice, urad dal (split black lentils) and fenugreek seed batter and cooked on thick dosa tawas (flat griddles), made specially in India. Each dosa will be served with a choice of meat, seafood or vegetable kari, and with a tomato and coconut chutney, a curry leaf chutney and a fresh coconut chutney. Similar to those on the Sethis’ Michelin starred menu at Gymkhana, the dosas will be conical in shape, but at Hoppers they will be twice the size.
Alongside the hoppers and dosas, there will be a selection of ‘Short Eats,’ the Sri Lankan term for snacks, typically eaten with drinks. These will include Pig Shank Roti, Rasa crab omelette (£5) and Cashew and Ash Plantain Fry, curry leaf podi. A short dessert menu will offer Watalapam (a steamed custard made with coconut milk, kithul jaggery and spices) and a Falooda of Buffalo curd, salted cashew and candied ginger kulfi, rambutan, coconut water and pandan jelly.
Cocktails at Hoppers will focus on Genever and Arrack. Sri Lanka is the largest producer of arrack made from fermented coconut sap, and at Hoppers the spirit will form a base for drinks such as the Toddy Tapper – think Ceylon arrack, toasted coconut, bittered wine.
Sri Lanka’s favourite beer, Lion Lager, will be served, as well as ‘Hoppers House Halves,’ half bottles of wine produced by Michele Chiarlo in Piedmont. Masala buttermilk, Dilmah Metre Tea, and black pepper cream soda will be made in house.