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Sigiri review: delicious Sri Lankan food in East Village

Simon | Nov 28, 201111:36 AM

Went there for the first time last night with two pals, both of whom are adventurous eaters who like spicy food...i had seen an occassional positive mention of Sigiri here and had wanted to try it, but had never made it there...am really happy it tried it...

When we got there, i told the (very friendly, helpful) waiter that it was our first visit and to recommend anything he thought we'd like as a intro to the restaurant (and also as an intro to Sri Lankan food: i'd had SL food only once or twice at someone's home long ago, and my friends had never tried it -- though one of the them is 1/2 Indian and the other one loves Indian food)...and we told him not to hold back on the spice...

We also discovered that it's BYOB, so i left the ordering to them and ran two doors down to the excellent Spanish wine store Tinto Fino and returned w/ a bottle of delicious white wine which the woman at the Tinto Fino described as "dry, no oak, but slightly creamy so it'll round out the spices in your meal, and with the slight aroma of, well, pot"...me: "You had me at 'no oak'. I'll take it."

Given that i'd abdicated a lot of my input on the food-ordering while doing the wine run, i'm not sure the names and prices of the various dishes, but among the things i remember:

-- black pork curry: very peppery...definite will order again
-- red whole-grain rice...nutty and delicious...definitely will order again
-- Sri Lankan vegetables: like a thali...these were served mostly around the red rice: there were beets, a green bean-like veggie, cabbage, and some yellow dahl served on the side...plus a little ground coconut and chutney and some hot curry sauce as condimen...definitely will order again
-- a rice pilaf of sorts that had chicken and a lot of other things in it, and was a lot like fried rice...
-- a dish w/ rice and chicken steamed in banana leaf
-- dosas (not sure if the Sri Lankan name for them is the same as the Indian, but like S.Indian dosas but smaller) w/ a fried sunnyside egg on top...
-- fish curry...perfectly cooked, meat whitefish: i loved this but it was a very small portion, and i'm not sure the price...would have felt puny for an entree...

It was huge amount of food, but we liked and ate pretty much everything except for some of the banana-leaf chicken rice, which we took home as leftovers...total bill was just under 72 dollars including tax...as we were delighted with the meal and the service and because we were a party of 3 guys sharing the bill, we rounded up to 90 bucks w/ tip so we could each throw in 30...but now that we know the menu a bit, it'd be easy to order selectively and keep the total cost at around 20 to 25 bucks per person in the future...

I'm very happy to have found Sigiri -- i don't know much about Sri Lankan food, so i'd love it if others chime in with favorite dishes and suggestions and knowledge. In general i find most N. Indian food served in restaurants to be too buttery for me, and i've found the S. Indian food i've had in NYC to be too bland for me (e.g. at Saravannas)...so Sri Lankan food, which at Sigiri seems to be both a: cooked with light oil as opposed to butter, and b: very spicy, just might become one of my new favorite things :)

Will go back again soon and followup, but my first impression is that this is a place that could easily find itself in my regular rotation...and in my personal lists of restaurants, i'd put it in the same category as Zabb-Elee, Cafe China, and Soba Koh -- i.e. small, authentic, extremely well-run restaurants with friendly staff that are serving regional and/or specialist Asian cuisine at moderate prices.

Tinto Fino
85 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

91 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

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