Thanks to this discussion on Sepia Mutiny, I learned of Sigiri, a Sri Lankan restaurant in New York. I’ve eaten Sri Lankan food at one cousin’s home in Sri Lanka, as well as at another cousin’s house in Massachusetts.
Although meat dominates the menu at Sigiri and is a large part of Sri Lankan cuisine, my extended family is vegetarian, and thus, my experiences eating Sri Lankan food with them always bring to mind coconut and comfort in vegetables and curries. Sigiri had all of the coconut and comfort I was craving that cold Saturday night but less of the vegetables that my extended family incorporates into their Sri Lankan cooking: no pumpkins, green beans, or potatoes showed up at Sigiri.
Sigiri is in a small space but the service is accommodating. As a group of six, we were told to wait ten minutes; the tiny, second-floor restaurant was packed. While I lingered outside the door to ensure against newcomers grabbing our soon-to-be-vacant table, friends went around the corner to pick up wine, for Sigiri is BYOB. In that time, our smiling Nepali waiter had arranged a table for us- an awkwardly large group, given the dimensions of the restaurant.
Much of the menu was filled with dishes built around chicken, beef, or fish, but I ordered a vegetarian version of the String Hopper Kotthu ($11). The mound of chopped, coconuty noodles came with a side of creamy coconut-milk sauce. The noodles were great plain, brightened with pieces of sharp red onion. The sauce (or soup) was a pleasant palette moistener but didn’t contribute much to the dish overall, since its flavor was too similar to the noodles. While sitting on my couch the next day, I spooned my leftover noodles into my mouth, savoring the tastes of coconut and onion. My omnivorous friends all thoroughly enjoyed their meals, making me slightly envious that they had so many options. Regardless, I would like to go back to Sigiri to try the Kotthu Roti (stir-fried roti) more hoppers (not string, but the actual, crepe-like concoctions) and their desserts.
Sigiri is at 91 First Avenue, between 5th and 6th streets.