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Lakruwana, Pure Sri Lankan at Budget Prices in Stapleton, Staten Island, Featuring a $13.95 Weekend Buffet

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I am BACK!!! After a long, long hiatus, partially as a result of travels, and partially as a result of issues with my learning disability, I have had trouble coming back to writing. But encouragement from so many of my friends and family has moved me to get back into it. I’ve continued to try hundreds of new restaurants, particularly in NYC where I am from. I thought I’d start it out with a particularly unique Staten Island establishment: Lakruwana.

Little Sri Lanka’s NYC HQ is in Staten Island, which makes for a cumbersome journey to its great concomitant restaurants, but it’s well worth it in the end. There isn’t an overwhelming number of restaurants per se-- perhaps no more than 15-- but many of them have become celebrated among the few places to get quality Sri Lankan food in the city. I am also doing a major New Jersey and Staten Island push, so this resto fit into my new offensive!

Lakruwana is quite an experience to visit. Its gold-laden front doors are covered in Sri Lankan reliefs, making for a grand entrance to an interior that looks like some warped alternate Sri Lankan reality from the surrounding Staten Island hills. Underneath the restaurant is the Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum (the only one of its kind in the city), if you want to tack that onto your food adventure here! Anywho, I went with my girlfriend, who was immensely skeptical of this Staten Island food push, and we both came away convinced of the virtues of these recent tactical maneuvers.

The food is very tasty, although I am slightly rusty on Sri Lankan, and have yet to try some of the other options in the area. I want to hold off a full throttle endorsement until such time, but for now can highly recommend this place. We got the classics--lamprais for me, kottu for her. I was a big fan of the lamprais, which have the potential to taste kind of bland since its just rice mixed up with stuff. In this case, each element: the onions, the cashews, the curry etc., were all very good, AND worked together in a wonderful harmony of flavors. I got fish curry with mine, which I have been craving, and while it lacked some of the funky unusual tastes that one might find with a South Indian fish curry, it was cooked very well, and still tasted good.

Spiciness was a slight issue for me since I love extreme spice, but they tried their best to bump up the heat. Ultimately Sri Lankan isn’t like Bangladeshi, for instance, in the sense that its extreme spices are often mild by comparison, from my experience. The kottu was also very good, and I was very fond of the chicken curry that came with it. Usually kottu can be kind of dry, but the wonderful lil curry sauce was perfect to enliven the taste and moisten the starch a bit, so to speak.

 I was sad to have missed the buffet. People rave about the buffet served in these giant clay pots. Indeed, that is how I remember first finding out about the resto whereby one of the websites I follow said “we went for the buffet” etc. All in all, I recommend you go try this place, and the others around to compare (like New Asha, San Rasa, etc.). Little Sri Lanka isn’t necessarily a Chinatown 2 in terms of its offerings and sheer breadth, but it is an under-explored, unsung hotspot for venerable cuisine. 

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