A shelf filled with indoor plants separates the sit-down Araliya from the bar at the front (which in summer opens onto the street when the retractable front wall is pulled back). Araliya, which opened in 2014 and is the sibling of the 32-year-old original in Hawthorn, provides Mrs Hopper with food; the bar in turn takes care of Araliya’s cocktail needs.
Beers veer local with Wolf of the Willows pilsner and Stomping Ground pale ale on tap. But there are a few nods to the teardrop island, including Sri Lankan Lion Lager, served here in tall frosty longies for $15. Cocktail-wise, try the Sri Lankan Mule, with ginger beer, fresh lime and arrak, a South East Asian liquor.
You can more or less eat everything on the menu with your hands, including the hoppers, which are thin fermented-rice pancakes with fillings such as slightly sweet pork belly stew.
You can also rip them into bits and use them as edible spoon-shovels to scoop up larger stews and curries, such as barramundi with tamarind and pepper; red-lentil dahl with baby spinach; a sweet and juicy duck option; and a tender, not-too-spicy red beef curry. They come with three hopper options: plain, with an egg cooked in the centre or “string hopper”, thin rice noodles pressed into soft, stringy patty cakes.
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