Few people realize that the largest Sri Lankan community in the United States is right on the north shore of Staten Island, turning the neighborhoods of St. George and Stapleton into a Little Sri Lanka. My favorite spot for a taste of Sri Lankan culture is Lakruwana, a welcoming family-owned restaurant on Bay Street. The dining room is filled with Buddhist statues, wood carvings, textiles, and pottery. Many of the art pieces are originals, as the restaurant also houses the city’s first Sri Lankan museum. The museum was opened in the summer of 2017 by the owners’ teenage daughter, who assembled the collection from family heirlooms from Sri Lanka.
My favorite dish is the mulligatawny soup, which is a pureed lentil soup with warm earthy spices. At Lakruwana, texture and materials are a part of the dining experience, so the soup is served in a stout earthenware bowl and a cute little wooden spoon. For my main course, I love the lamprais. The food arrives in a steamed banana leaf envelope, which unfolds to reveal a combination of basmati rice, curried meat, and vegetables.
Lakruwana also has a Sunday brunch buffet. Although my two favorite dishes are not on the brunch menu, it is a great opportunity to sample a variety of curries and other traditional dishes.