With the year drawing to a close there’s a few things I have to mention, all handsomely of the Asian persuasion. Two of which are Karam Sethi creations, the first, celebrated sister restaurant of Gymkhana, Trishna in Marylebone.
I went for lunch with my family, in their cosy wooden panelled restaurant, with faded mirrors and an old colonial feel similar to Dishoom. I often find at Indian restaurants the starters outshine the main, and Trishna was no exception, not to say the mains weren’t great but if I were to go again I’d double up on starters and maybe push to a biriyani. Stand-out dishes included the soft shell crab, aloo chat and sea bream. Service was good, the Maitre D seemed to be training the staff on the job, I thought he might clip a waiter’s ear at some point but in an entertaining way rather than abusive.
The following week I visited Sethi’s newest brainchild, South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant, Hoppers in Soho, with a similar decor to Trishna but on a smaller scale so you’ll definitely make friends or enemies with your neighbouring diners. Hoppers are bowl-shaped pancake made from a fermented rice flour batter and are one of my favourite foods in the whole world, no pressure. My friend Beanie came with me, having visited Sri Lanka a couple of times she also had high expectations. The starters, curries and sambols were delicious, (though they have no vegan and vegetarian alternatives) but the hopper itself (yes I only had one!) lacked the crisp edges I was craving. I associate a ‘hopper feed’ with hoppers rolling out of the kitchen piping hot, eaten immediately, our visit was unfortunately interrupted with two fire alarms and I did wonder if the packed restaurant was struggling with getting orders out fresh.
I was surprised by the dessert, a sweet hopper with kithul treacle. also served with a scoop of Durian ice cream, which divided Beanie and I, I loved it, though it is a pungent, marmite fruit. Seeing as the concept of the restaurant was a no reservations, fast dining, we racked up a large bill for what it was. I’m not completely dissuaded from going again, I think it’s fantastic that hoppers are becoming a regular on the london scene, along with the success of Weligama but I guess for those that are an old hand at eating hoppers, the flaws are more prominent.
Finally the last thing I’d like to talk about is a cookbook launch I came across with fellow blogger Suji. The book is called Handmade and it is a collection of recipes from women from Sri Lanka that lived through the civil war. It was made by a charity called Palmera with the help of Builiding Blocks too. Suji and I met atop a pub in the city where they held some speeches and had a few tasters from the book, it was really nice to experience the buzz surrounding a Sri Lankan cookbook.
I for one was unfamiliar with a lot of the Tamil recipes and am excited to work my way through it. It is very unusual to look at the acknowledgements of a cookbook and not have it credit a food stylist and prop stylist, but it still fits in on the shelves. Though this is not a quick inspiration cookbook, in it lies the stories of the women, how they fed their families during the war and the impact food had on them. It is a really interesting account if you’re able to get hold of a copy, as I said, I look forward to trialling some recipes, and of course I’ll blog about them too.
So that’s it folks, I hope I’ll get time to fit in another post before 2016 but if not I wish you the best of holidays and see you in the New Year!