Manhattan to Sri Lanka in 45 Minutes
Staten Island is not usually a spot that comes to mind when New Yorkers think of the city's best eats. However, just one ferry ride away lies a haven for Sri Lankan food lovers within the suburbs of the island.
What is Sri Lankan cuisine you ask? Garnering influence from colonial powers and foreign traders, key ingredients include rice, coconut, and a variety of spices. Signature Sri Lankan dishes, like Coconut Sambal and Kottu Roti, are packed with hints of Indian and Southeast Asian influences.
New Asha, located on Victory Boulevard, is a mere fifteen-minute walk from the ferry, but don't let its modest storefront and rough exterior steer you away from entering. Vijayakuman "Viji" Devadas, who welcomed us into her brother's restaurant, has been working at New Asha since 1995 cooking up Sri Lankan dishes using her family's recipes. After realizing it was our first time trying Sri Lankan cuisine, Viji offered us a plate filled with her personal favorites: Black Curry Eggplant, Goat Curry, and our favorite, Chicken Kottu Roti, the Sri Lankan staple made with stripes of roti-stir-fried with vegetables, eggs, chicken, and Sri Lankan curry powder, a unique blend of spices including coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon, and cardamom. As we devoured this Chicken Fried Rice on steroids, we still had a whole plate of flavor-packed dishes to go!
Not only were all of the savory dishes at New Asha fantastic, but more importantly, Viji's welcoming nature was what made the restaurant even more memorable. Next time you want to try something new, don't forget that a quick ferry ride to Staten Island can transport your tastebuds 9,000 miles to Sri Lanka.
322 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10301