Posts Tagged With: Staten island restaurants

Lakruwana – The Power of the New York Times

I don’t know anyone who reads the New York Times.  Heck, I don’t know anyone who reads newspapers.  Half of my friends don’t even read.  I just asked my kids if they even heard of the New York Times… No!!  Ok, they are 2 and 3 but still, you get the point.  With that said when a restaurant is mentioned in the NYT positively and gets at least one star, look out.  To some this is a bigger deal than a Michelin Star.  You may even argue that the verdict doesn’t matter as Guy Fieri found out.  Attention is attention


On Saturday I took my wife and 4 friends to Lakruwana, a Sri Lankan spot in Staten Island that I’ve written about before here.  As soon as we entered the restaurant I suspected something was wrong.  Still waiting for water and menus, or a human 20 minutes in, that feeling slightly intensified.  Before you knew it, a ‘Godfather’ like line of locals and hipsters out the door trying to get the owner’s attention which we so desperately needed as well.  The place was packed.  but then it hit me.  I’m there for the exact same reason as everyone else.  I also read the NYT article a few days earlier about Lakruwana and felt the same urge to cancel my plans (Briskettown in Williamdburg) and go there.    

Lakruwana - HoppersEventually things settled down, the hipsters left, and we got our food, albeit all the dishes at the same time which is always fun (since there was no room at least one dish had to be held by someone).  The food for the most part was very good.  Quite an excellent Mulligatawny soup to start things off.  Good Lamprais, Hoppers, Kottu Roti (first for me) but what stole the show on this particular night was the Deviled Chicken which I couldnt get enough of. 

After the meal the owner confirmed to me that they were simply not prepared or didnt know how to prepare for this.  Still, Lakruwana, with its museum like settings and terrific cheap food is quite possibly the best reason for hipsters to take the ferry over.  Except perhaps right after a NYT mention, or during a festival in Bushwick 

Lakruwana - Lamprais

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Sri Lankan in Staten Island – Another reason to visit

LakruwanaLets recap some of the biggest reasons to come to Staten Island…

1)  Staten Island Ferry.  Staten Island is a very unique place.  One of the biggest attractions in NYC is to get there and then get the hell out of there.

2)  To see Meerkats on a lookout at the Staten Island Zoo.  If you have never seen this, here’s an example from another zoo…  

3)  The new annual “Running of the Zebras and Ponies”.  I have a feeling this is going to be a big hit.  Here’s a footage from the last event (play the video)

4)  To see “The Yankees”.  Its the Staten Island Yankees, but most tourists will not know the difference.

5)  For the new “EYE”.  Ok, its a Ferris Wheel that hasnt actually been built yet but is in the works, and it will be bigger than the London eye.

LakruwanaAdd Sri Lankan food to this impressive list.  Sure you have some other nice options like Vida, and the rotating nonnas of Enoteca Maria, but nothing perhaps is as unique as the wonderful Sri Lankan cuisine on the island.  Since the late 60’s Sri Lankans have been flocking the island to create the 3rd largest Sri Lankan community in the US.  Here are 2 of the better options on the island of Staten

LakruwanaLakruwana – Entering Lakruwana is like entering a Sri Lankan museum with every inch of the restaurant decorated from floor to ceiling.  We did their excellent Sunday buffet served in clay pots.  From Boiled egg with curry to Kale with coconut, to Pol and onion Sambols, and the delicious crispy pork.  Although there were only 2 meat dishes, even the carnivores will admire the different variety and the complex flavors.

Sanrasa – Here we did a saturday dinner.  Although Sanrasa has more of a homey look and feel as opposed to Lakruwana, the flavors are as spectacular.  The chef used to work for Lakruwana and also I believe for a saudi prince.  If its good enough for a Saudi price, its good enough for Ziggy.  Some dishes we tried…

Chicken with cashew curry – very good. nice and tender chicken
Lamb with black curry – lamb a little dry but the sauce more than made up for it. Couldn’t get enough of it really.
Hoppers – very nice and unique, like little spongy pancakes made with rice flour and coconut milk, with some cooked with eggs
Kottu Roti – nice. They have an array of roti and hopper specials that come with your choice of meat curries
Lamprie – This is the house special and a must IMO. All kinds of goodies including rice, meat, curry, caramelized onions, cashews, all baked wrapped in banana leaf.  An old Dutch influenced classic
Deviled Shrimp – Fantastic, Thai-like, very spicy sizzling unpeeled shrimp with veggies.
Lamb Biryani – very good
Nice Mango Lassi as well.

There you have it folks.  Another reason to come.  As if you needed any more after surviving the running of the zebras and ponies

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Staten Island – Viva la Vida

Our goldfish Ziggy Jr. is not well.  He hasn’t eaten in 2 days, he is slow to react to disturbances and stimuli, and his poop has sort of a mahogany tone to it.  Our history with previous Ziggy jr’s indicate that he does not have much time left.

What Ziggy Jr. desperately needs is a meal at Vida (OMG I can just see Vida’s owner rolling her eyes at this transition :roll:).  Vida has all the ingredients for a fun meal with the family.  It got that nice neighborhoody vibe, quirky waiters, and home cooking that is better than mama’s.  Ok, cooking better than my mama is not exactly a stretch (thankfully my mom does not read this blog, nor does she know I have a blog, or knows what a blog is) but Silva Popaz, Vida’s chef/owner sure knows her stuff.  Vida is a chef’s restaurant.  When the chef de cuisine is out, the restaurant is closed.  So many more known establishments in the city don’t follow this rule.

Reading the menu at Vida is like visiting Disney’s Epcot.  It’s as eclectic as a menu can get.  Between the Asian style shrimp, Gumbo, Hummus,  chicken Francaise, and the rest of it, all major continents are well represented.

We started with the always reliable Vida bites — pulled pork, pico de galo and avocado sauce on bread.  Another regular for us is the mussels with cilantro, shallots, garlic, and white wine.  This decadent sauce normally screams for some serious  finger dipping, until they bring more bread.  I wasnt quick to wash my hands following the meal.


For main the wonderful special Butternut Squash Lasagna with marsala reduction well demonstrated Silva’s talent and originality.  The marsala, just like with Scarpetta’s foie gras ravioli added nice intensity to the dish.


My feeling of uncertainty after not getting my usual gumbo dish this time and ordering something I normally never do, did not last long.  The special chicken stuffed with sausage, spinach and mushrooms was outstanding.  Perfectly crisped skin with that savory filling made every morsel regret sharing the dish with Mrs Ziggy.

The kids were enjoying their linguine Fra Diavolo with shrimp, calamari, mussels, and Asian style hanger steak.  Sorry about the quality of the pictures which I blame on lack of lighting, and lack of skill

I normally get the bread pudding for dessert but this time I was convinced to try the Tiramisu cheesecake.  Wowser!  Perfect finish to one of the best meals we had in Staten Island.  Is wowser an acceptable food blog word I wonder?  I’m still new to this blogging thing and I dont want to embarrass  myself.

Silva gets much of her culinary influences from her trips around the world.  A recent trip to Morocco can almost assure a bigger arsenal of exotic spices and perhaps a nice Lamb Tagine in the near future.

Vida up until recently was the only restaurant in Staten Island included on the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand list.  Its like a michelin star for affordable neighborhood joints.  The excellent Enoteca Maria has now joined the list for 2012.  If Vida is not Staten Island’s best, she is not far behind.

Recommended dishes:  Vida Bites, Mussels, Gumbo, Stuffed Chicken, Tiramisu cheesecake

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Staten Island’s best – Bayou

Great dining in Staten Island was pretty much an oxymoron until Julian Gaxholi showed up to the scene.  Opening the first New Orleans style creole eatery in SI may require some guts but by the look  of the packed dining room it just requires great execution.

On a recent visit we quickly witnessed the kids menu disappear after the kids gave the hostess the stare of death.  Mussels and  Alligator balls please.  Yes, they like Alligator.  Its not normal I know.   Much to the chagrin of my wallet the kid menu days had a short span.  Mussels are always good here and the Alligator balls are tasty but they become less so once you try their more attractive cousin,  the Jambalaya rice Balls.  Those balls packed with so much flavor, like a preview to what comes next (the jambalaya) Andouille sausage, spices and other goodies.  Heavenly!  We also sampled the chicken wings as well which were good but that Blue cheese sauce that came with it stole the show.  Like a standalone chunky blue cheese salad, Yum!

On a previous visit we enjoyed the Crayfish Ettouffee since I dont get to eat much Crayfish here in NYC but I much prefer the Jambalaya.  That seafood Jambalaya puts all the Paellas on the island to shame.   Scallops, shrimp, mussels, crawfish and Andouille sausage simmered in Creole Tomato sauce with rice = Mardi Gras in your mouth.  And then there’s the Seafood Gone Wild dish.  More like the casseroly, milder version of the Jambalaya.  Moist and flavorful seafood goodness. 

For dessert the banana bread pudding held its own.   The better the food looks, the more likely we forget to take pictures, sorry. 

Bayou is Staten Island’s best according to this blogger.

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