It is a well know fact to everyone living on Staten Island that there are more Sri Lankan people living on Staten Island than anywhere else (outside of Sri Lanka). While I have not externally validated that fact in any way, there are quite a few Sri Lankan restaurants here so…. I’m buying it!
Sri Lankan food is pretty similar to Indian food. For more info about Sri Lankan food info – you can read about it here. Or, you can just go to one of these two place which we frequent for our Sri Lankan fix. I am in no way meaning to imply that these are the best places to get Sri Lankan food on Staten Island, they are just the only two places we’ve been (technically there is a third place, but it went out of business ….)
New Asha is a small takeout place. The first time we went in, it was very close to closing time and I went it and the woman who runs the place was so sweet to us. It was kind of like when you get to your parents house after a big dinner and they’ve already put all the food away, but your mom is like no no no, I’ll fix you a plate and she is putting the food on the plate while she says “do you want some of this” and you can’t really say no, because she has already put in on your plate.
The greatest thing about his place, aside from the fact that the food is delicious is that you can go in and say “I’d like a vegetarian plate” and she puts together a HUGE meal for you that costs less than $10. Of the many times that I’ve been there there was only ever one thing on my plate that I didn’t care for – and there was so much other food that I was still over-stuffed even without it.
Friendly tip – this is not the most efficient restaurant – even though all the food is already prepared it can take between 15 and 45 minutes to get your plate (not exaggerating). Either be prepared to wait (and eat a yummy samosa/empanada type snacks while you do), or call ahead!
NYMAG has a cute (accurate) profile of New Asha here and it gets great reviews on yelp
The second place is not as delicious as New Asha, but makes up for it in spades with ambiance.
Lakruwana is a sit-down restaurant on Bay St. The corner it is located on is always busy and dirty and has all sorts of folks hanging out – when you walk in, you are TRANSPORTED to a different place. The ethnic decorations, full of teak wood, Buddhas and banana leaves makes you feel like you are in a temple in a rain forest. We’ve only ever been for the weekend buffet – and I’ve been twice in one weekend and not been bored of the food – even though the buffet never changes. In addition to the most delicious eggplant ever, they have papadums (with several spicy chutneys(?) to go with it). Also – they have a dessert buffet – while typically i think Indian desserts are not so good – Sri Lankan desserts are AMAZING! They are famous for their Mango Mousse, but I prefer their caramel flan type thing with the sour yogurt on top. (I may or may no be salivating right now). I would highly recommend this to a Sri Lankan first timer – for only $12 it really is not that much of an investment and since it is a buffet you will find at least one thing to fill you up (even if it is dessert!) This place is so good – The Village Voice made a comic about it …
So – basically, if you are on Staten Island there is NO REASON that you should feel like you have to eat Italian (although there is a lot of good Italian eats…future post!)