Must-See Little Sri Lanka: 5 Great Things to See and Do

by Staff

Of late, the sleepy Staten Island neighborhood of Tompkinsville has begun to garner some attention among the City's connoisseurs of ethnic delicacies as a must-visit gastronomic destination. Home to the world's largest community of Sri Lankans outside the country itself, Tompkinsville's Little Sri Lanka is a nexus of the island nation's piquant cuisine, with a host of restaurants and grocers specializing in foods, teas, spices and other products you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the City. To start your culinary journey, take the free, 25-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island, and enjoy stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty along the way. From the terminal in St. George, it's a scenic, 10-minute stroll south along Bay Street to Victory Boulevard, where most of the neighborhood's restaurants and shops are clustered. —Harrison Peck

New Asha
322 Victory Blvd., 718-420-0649
Though the decor is minimal, the flavor is plentiful at what is perhaps Little Sri Lanka's most popular establishment. Though most patrons get takeout (except for those who stick around to watch cricket games on the TV), the food is as delicious as that of any top-notch restaurant. Fill up on roti, hoppers (yummy bowl-shaped pancakes, available Thursday through Sunday) or Sri Lanka's national dish, rice and curry.

Lanka Grocery
353 Victory Blvd., 718-390-0337
Just a block away from New Asha, Lanka Grocery is a go-to resource for all things Sri Lankan. In addition to exotic teas, spices, fruits and other foodstuffs, this diminutive shop stocks CDs, newspapers and a range of other imports from Sri Lanka. —HP

Lak Bojun
324 Victory Blvd., 347-466-5338
A recent addition to the burgeoning Sri Lankan corridor on Victory Boulevard, Lak Bojun has been serving up reliably tasty, authentic cuisine since 2008. In an area where a number of restaurants cater to the takeout or quick-bite-on-the-go crowd, Lak Bojun's cozy ambience invites diners to linger. It's a good thing, too: with the generous portions, it will take you a while to get to the bottom of your plate. Specialties include savory lampries—heaping mounds of yellow rice with curried meats and vegetables embedded in a banana leaf. The leftovers can keep you sated for days. —HP

Dosa Garden
323 Victory Blvd., 718-420-0919
Dosa Garden has more Indian influence than Sri Lankan, but this relatively new restaurant in Little Sri Lanka is quickly becoming a favorite. With Bollywood movies playing in the background, the restaurant serves up various kinds of dosas (crepes made of rice and black lentils), vadas (doughnut-shaped treats typically made from either lentils or potatoes) and other delicacies, like pan-fried tilapia. And be sure to heed the menu's advice: "Spice up your life: Dip the dosa."

Sanrasa Restaurant
226 Bay St., 718-420-0027
Sanrasa Restaurant, formerly Lakruwana, is a success when it comes to impressing patrons—both with its delectable cuisine and charming atmosphere. Woven baskets, paintings and other traditional decor fill the cozy (but not crowded) space. The food—including lamprie and spicy Sri Lankan–style meat dishes—is inexpensive and delicious, and the $11 Sunday lunch buffet is an ideal way to sample a variety of items from the menu.