>> [CLOSED] Spicy Lanka | Eat the World NYC

29 December 2017

[CLOSED] Spicy Lanka



For the better part of the last decade, a lone outpost for Sri Lankan food in the Jamaica area has lived at this address. Araliya survived a few years before shuttering, at which time new owners took the space over and created Spicy Lanka sometime near the beginning of 2014. It seems to be doing better, even attracting the paper of record back when it opened.

The interior is a bit more cozy than Araliya was, with the walls and ceiling painted light blue to represent the hot airs over the Bay of Bengal. Clouds, banana tree leaves, and birds complete the scene, and had the slim glass door stopped letting in drafts of frigid December air, it may have just worked.

This glass facade creates a nice viewing window of the bustle on Hillside Avenue while dining in the peaceful space. Bollywood videos seem to be the choice for the large flat screen TV, but sports seem to be a theme as well You may catch an important cricket match if the timing is right. A trophy is displayed for a volleyball championship, a sport that is controversially the official national sport of Sri Lanka.

In almost every Sri Lankan review written on these pages, there is reference to the marvelous New Asha in Staten Island, the absolute standard bearer of the cuisine in New York City. Sri Lankan people love their deep fried snacks, sometimes translated as "short eats" in English, and the lovely woman at New Asha makes the best in the city fresh each day.

Not to stir up any controversy, but the fish rolls ($4.95, above) were on par here, expertly fried tubes that were pillowy inside after the thin crisp shell was broken. A chili dipping sauce is unnecessary but comes with the order.

Kothu rotti, the "fast food" of Sri Lanka was on the minds of this table, a stir-fry of roti bread fragments, vegetables, and egg. The chicken kothu ($8.95, below) was ordered "spicy," the top level of three, but surprisingly for a restaurant with the word in its name, was more of a medium. There were some times in Northern Sri Lanka that I remember sweating profusely over a plate of fiery kothu rotti.

Besides that, the dish is excellent and brought back good memories of stopping into the ubiquitous kothu parlors of the island.

The favorite order of the day may have gone to the beef curry ($11.95, below), ordered as a platter and served with basmati rice, dhal, and two delicious vegetable dishes which rotate daily. On this occasion, we had a beet curry and sauteed sweet potatoes. While the dish also was not overly spicy despite being ordered that way, the flavors were complex and the cuts of meat were quite good.

A dish that never is served spicy rounded out the order. While most curries in Sri Lanka are more like their South Asian counterparts, hard boiled egg curry ($5.95, below) comes heavily laden with coconut milk. The overall tastes are subtle, with the curry leaves and turmeric coming through the most.

This curry is known as kiri hodi, and can be eaten in a variety of ways. It is popular as a breakfast dish served with string hoppers. If we lived a little closer, we might be coming back here for all three meals each day.

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Spicy Lanka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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