Kayabacho: Sri Lankan
Hoppers (Kayabacho: Sri Lankan)
Open 11:30am-2, 6-8:30 (LO). Closed Wednesdays.
Sun: Open Sundays

This chic, intimate dining spot serves sophisticated modern Sri Lankan cuisine that's still in touch with its roots. The five-course prix-fixe menu at dinnertime is an excellent way to experience the creations of Hoppers' talented chef, either on its own or optionally accompanied by a five-part wine pairing.

The meal starts with an artfully arranged platter of five tiny starters to spark the appetite. Our seasonal selection included a miniature risotto, a bean donut topped with ikura, an interestingly spiced oyster and a single small hopper - a hemispherical pancake topped by a fried egg and peppercorns. This was followed by fish and meat courses of grilled Spanish mackerel and wagyu beef wrapped in a mochi-like shell, both of them well prepared and fairly substantial.

Next came the main attraction: two mounds of aromatic rice accompanied by a hearty fish curry and a colorful spread of side dishes, which you can gradually spoon out onto your rice plate to enjoy a succession of flavors.

After all this food we were happy to see that dessert was relatively light - a beer jelly (that actually tasted like beer) and a small piece of chocolate cake. The sweets were complemented by an excellent cup of tea, as one might expect from a Sri Lankan restaurant.

Overall the most striking impression of the meal, particularly the dishes assembled for the rice course, is the sheer diversity of flavors, and how well they are brought out by the many spices used. Plating and presentation are also very appealing, and each of our dishes was described in detail as it was served.

In addition to beer and wine there's a good selection of soft drinks. Freshly grated ginger sets the home-made ginger beer apart from bottled products, and the excellent craft cola is built around good helpings of cardamom and other spices. Seven different kinds of tea are available to round off your meal, representing the seven major tea-producing regions of Sri Lanka.

The dinnertime prix-fixe menu is Y6,600, plus Y5,500 if you opt for the wine pairing. At lunchtime the Rice & Curry Lunch (Y1,650) features one curry of your choice (from the three listed on the daily blackboard) plus nine small side dishes. One additional curry is Y500, dessert plus tea is Y300, and rice refills are free.

by Robb Satterwhite

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Kabutocho 1-7, Kabuto One 1F.

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Venue listing from Bento.com5 Star Rating: highly recommended