London is known for having some of the best south Asian food in the world. Because the British long ago colonized India and, thus, many Indians eventually emigrated to the United Kingdom, bringing their cuisines with them, and because the ingredient quality is supposedly superior in the UK, the south Asian food here is purportedly even better than that in its motherland.

I wish I’d tried south Asian food during my first trip to London back in 2001 as a backpacker fresh out of college. Instead of curry and lassi, I foolishly opted for hostel cold cereal and flat, warm Coke.

Not this time.

I made sure I had lots of south Asian restaurants on the agenda, the first being Hoppers, a Sri Lankan eatery not far from our hotel in Soho. We arrived fairly early on a Monday evening, and there was already a 45-minute queue. The good thing, though, is Hoppers takes your name and number, and you’re free to wander the neighboring streets until it’s closer to your time in queue. Once we returned, there was just a short queue outside, probably all people who had just been texted their table would open up soon. We chatted it up with the guy in front of us, and he said Hoppers was always hopping, advising us of what to order.

We were ushered inside and seated at a bar facing a window overlooking the sidewalk where we’d been standing just moments earlier. I wondered if the people in queue would be staring hungrily at us while we ate. Sometimes, it’s nice to be blind.

Per the suggestions of our compadre in line, the hubs and I ordered a couple of cocktails with south Asian flavors to start. For food, we got a dosa (a flat pancake typically made of rice flour and black gran or lentils), a drumstick sambar (lentil stew for dipping your dosa), chutney (also for dipping), black pork curry, fried potatoes, and idli (a steamed rice cake also to dip in the sambar).

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the restaurant’s namesake, the hopper. A Sri Lankan street food, hoppers are crêpes made from rice flour and coconut milk. They’re shaped like baskets which are used to hold eggs and other simple fillings.

All the food came out gloriously vibrant, piping hot, and damn delicious. I especially loved the dosa. We were stuffed by the end.

I recommended this place to another food-loving friend on his recent trip to London, and he texted me afterwards raving about the food. Hoppers is definitely worth the wait. Be sure to get the dosa and egg hopper.

Hoppers
49 Frith St.
London W1D 4SG
United Kingdom

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