It’s always amazing to see how enthusiastic a Sri Lankan person will get when you mention their food to them. That’s why when we heard about the pop up shop Hopper Kadé in the Tramsheds shopping centre, my girlfriend declared that we HAD to go.
Tramsheds is an historical shed built in 1904 to service the once-common trams that roamed the streets of Sydney. Works were completed last year to convert the previously abandoned building to a new foodie destination.
Being a train and rail nerd, I was awestruck by the pristine restoration of tram No. 1995 by the Bendigo Rail Workshop. The tram is now the centrepiece of Butcher & Farmer, another restaurant in the centre.
We finally reached the modern shopfront of Hopper Kadé and we were impressed by their clean and open stall. Though they don’t have any dedicated seating, the design of the shopping centre means there’s plenty of public seating with tables to go around.
The menu is an interesting fusion of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and modern Australian. One of the owners, Ruvanie, said that her friends often struggled when she took them to traditional Sri Lankan restaurants and wanted to design this menu to be a “gateway to the hidden world of Sri Lankan cuisine”.
My girlfriend got the Avo Smash hopper with avocado, tomato, red onion and extra coconut sambol in place of the egg and feta. She also got an extra plain hopper underneath for half price. Avocado is not traditionally found on hoppers in Sri Lanka so she was a bit apprehensive but, according to her, it works.
I went for the more traditional option of 12 Hour Marinated Beef Meal. The hopper is light and crispy. The beef was tender and bursting with flavour while the curry sauce was quite spicy! I only wish there was more curry sauce.
I also got a side of sweet potato chips which were fried to crispy perfection giving them a nice crunch and fluffy texture. It was served with a spicy tomato chutney that went perfectly with the chips. All hoppers also came with a salad with cucumber pickle topped with fried onions.
Our friend ordered the Dhaling Harbour hopper with dhal and a free range egg. He replaced the zucchini with feta. He loved the hoppers so much he went back and got a second beef hopper!
For dessert, we ordered the Naana-tella hopper with kitul (palm) treacle. Another modern take on the hopper, this was a very rich and sweet way to end our meal.
We are very grateful to the staff for letting us make so many substitutions at no extra cost. It was also great to see such a multicultural staff behind the counter. We had a great chat to Ruvanie, one of the owners, who made a point to walk around regularly and greet each of her customers personally. Unfortunately there was no Lion Beer, iconic to Sri Lanka, as Hopper Kadé are still trying to work out licensing for their venue.
They are looking to begin doing proper take away and fresh juices soon and are looking for a more permanent venue. We can’t wait for when they do and we’ll definitely be back. If you’re looking for an interesting meal with new and interesting flavours, be sure to check Hopper Kadé out.
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