Words: Han Sen Hau Photos: Monica Tindall
It’s Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump
At least that’s how you’ll be left feeling after having a taste of Mrs Lim, or Mr Ahmad if you swing both ways. But the scandalicious details stop here, as these aren’t actually names of attendants who serve your cocktails at H (by Hoppers)—those are the actual names of the cocktails themselves, taken off past secretaries who have worked at the law firm that once housed the heritage lot before sisters Sugania and Nishalni came in to revive the property with their arsenal of sweet smelling hoppers (known locally as “appam”).
Now, we’ve covered Hoppers KL, the restaurant downstairs, in a previous post. This time, we’re taking you upstairs for an elevated experience at H, the sisters’ response to the dearth of light and breezy cocktail bars in the face of a speakeasy fervour that’s gripped KL. No loud music, no smoky atmosphere, just you, your cocktail, some appams maybe (read: some), and a never-ending supply of R.K. Nathan’s The Law Relating to Medical Practice. You will never need to bring a book to this place.
With a growing cocktail menu that undoubtedly pairs splendidly with the unique selection of hoppers, H is a novel concept that provides you with just the right amount of alcohol to have with a cherished breakfast staple so that you remain stimulated throughout your stay, not intoxicated and knocked out on the couch. That said, one of the highlights at H is the bottomless brunch cocktail menu available on weekends. It’s all-you-can-drink for only RM95 from noon to 4pm, and you have four easy cocktails to choose from. So of course we dove right into this.
The Borneo Spritz looks incredibly inviting with its orange hue and sparkles on the tongue. The Aperol used in this dominates the palate and I appreciate its bittersweet profile. The Malaya Rickey, a mixture of gin, mint, and kalamansi served in a tall glass is the perfect panacea for a parched afternoon. This one reminded me strongly of sweet pomelo; incidentally, something I also look forward to on a torrid day. Finally, we had a virgin Apple and Elderflower Buck, which ultimately became my favourite of the trio, even in the absence of vodka that was supposed to go in this. No surprise with the apple and ginger ale combo, but it’s the elderflower that gives the drink a pleasantly fragrant aroma.
We swapped out the Bellini Spritz from the brunch menu for something they whipped out in the moment over the counter—a beautiful Pim’s with Gula Melaka reduction (unavailable on the menu, though we’d love to come back for this) that looked as fabulous as it tasted. At this point, you might have noticed that a lot of the drinks here are pretty fruity, which generally goes well with an invigorating banter with friends in the afternoon. The well-lit interior and the chic furnishings (I’m particularly obsessed with the barstool legs that are painted in electric blue) are a welcome departure from the usual ultra snazzy yet sombre settings, where the only glow in the room is reflected off the faces of bartenders working in the dark. Over at H, you come in with your laptop as your companion and no one bats an eye, as long as you have a cocktail by your side to make it a threesome. But who (what) will you choose? We move on to the roll call.
We started with the demure and petite Mrs Lim who hid the biggest surprise—alcoholic tea. While we still have three more drinks to list here, let it be known that this made me hop, skip, and jump with delight. Looking back at the notes I’ve scribbled after I’ve had a sip, or two, or three, I spelt “good” with nine Os. Made with toasted sesame rum (yum!), tea, Apricot Shrub, and kalamansi, you will be drawn to this first by its sweet smell, then by its seductive flavour.
The scarlet Mrs Patricia was up next on the list, and boy was she a bombshell. With vodka, Cassis, lemon, agave, and a whole lot of raspberries in her system, she should come with a warning label. More effective than coffee, go for this if you need to be jolted out of your Sunday stupor or if you generally enjoy super fruity concoctions. Leaning more towards the incredibly sweet side of things, you’ll be left grinning ear-to-ear at every sip if a basket of berries is what you look forward to in a cocktail.
Next, we had Mr Ahmad, a refined and understated creation that’s easily the cream of the crop. Made with pandan vodka, gula Melaka, egg white, and lemon, this was almost akin to drinking a pint of really smooth craft beer. The subdued pandan vodka thrown into the mix was the cynosure of all flavours with its sweet aftertaste that lingers at the back of your tongue, beckoning you to take another sip before it dissipates like a wisp of smoke.
Last on the list was Miss Wong, who looked like a bowl of salubrious muesli with a secret that could put Mrs Lim’s to shame: tequila. But despite that key ingredient, the accompanying Cocogif, coconut milk, and gula Melaka swirling in the glass makes this a glorious after-dinner drink instead of a head-banging pill. I enjoyed the added texture from the shredded coconut sprinkled in this, and honestly, you really can’t go wrong with coconut as an ingredient so I would recommend this as a light digestif.
While we are done with the drinks, no trip to H is complete without a feature on their signature hoppers from the kitchen downstairs. We had three new ones this time, beginning with the unreal Peppered Goat Hopper. Served with yoghurt, coriander, pomegranate seeds, and a dash of pickled garlic, just looking at this is enough to make your stomach protest in hunger. The goat is amazingly tender, and there’s just enough spice tossed into this to spike your tongue without singeing it. The pomegranate seeds zest it up at every bite, and the serving size really does make you consider ordering up another.
We were also spoilt by the Prawns in a Butter Sauce Hopper that came with chilli, garlic, and curry leaves. The flavour profile for this decadent hopper is almost similar to the Cauliflower Fritter Hopper that we had in our previous post, mainly due to the fragrant curry leaves used in this. The best thing about this is that the prawns are shelled, so while you are deprived of a finger-licking good time, at least you won’t be left awkwardly handling your drinks.
The final Pandan Kaya Hopper was a real treat, and I recommend pairing this with Mr Ahmad. This disappeared in a blink of an eye as how could anyone resist the sweet, simple offering of homemade kaya?
It is great to see what establishments like Hoppers KL, and now H by Hoppers, are doing to the streets of KL. The drive along the once uninviting Jalan Pudu is now made better by the big, blue “HOPPERS” emblazoned across the top of the property that’s bound to elicit curious glances from drivers. Their recipe for success is simple, yet effective, and with the opening of H, we’re positive that only great things can come to this family-run business that’s spreading cheer one hopper at a time.
Reasons to visit: Chic and comfortable setting; great cocktails, with special mentions for Mr Ahmad and Mrs Lim; amazing hoppers to go with very reasonably priced cocktails, what with their weekend bottomless brunch menu; wine, champagne, whiskey and other drinking options are available upstairs as well, including local artisan wine.