Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shaolin Selects

So, I’ve been slacking on the blog lately.  My sincerest apologies. Maybe I got caught up savoring those last few days of summer, maybe it was because something else was all consuming, i.e. fashion week, and maybe there’s been some family drama as of late as well. But ALL excuses aside, it hasn’t stopped me from my routine of cooking, eating, drinking and enjoying things, so THAT has not changed!  Due to my recently insane schedule, Jeff and I have found ourselves looking for dining options, closer to home, here on Staten Island.  When you want good food, sometimes you don’t want to go very far! I have two worth noting new dining experiences that went down in my book as GREAT to EXCELLENT.

The first one I want to talk about is Lakruwana, located at 668 Bay Street.  I’ve passed Lakruwana MANY times. I’ve even said a few times “I’ve heard it’s good, we should go there!” but I hadn’t gone there!  One Thursday evening Jeff and I had New York harbor cruise tickets that our friend Scott Wegener had purchased. Unfortunately, the weather DID not cooperate for us, so we all opted for dinner at Lakruwana instead.  Nothing really prepared me for Lakruwana.  I knew it served Sri Lankan food, but beyond that I had no clue. We stepped into Lakruwana and it was like I suddenly was at the Epcot Center Sri Lankan pavilion! There were these great hand made high back rattan chairs, clay pots and pottery everywhere, masks on the walls, spears on the walls! Elaborate pendant lamps hanging from the ceiling, and carved statues- I didn’t know where to look! But nothing was cluttered; it all complimented each other and added to the overall atmosphere.  Excuse the grainy cell phone pics, it was dark in there! 

The server came to our table with giant totems and I thought, “what the hell are these?” but they were the menus!

So what is Sri Lankan food like? Apparently, it’s similar to Northern Indian food, similar cooking techniques and similar spices used.  I ordered a lovely beef lamprais, which was curried beef with basmati rice, vegetables and spices steamed inside a banana leaf - it was DELICIOUS. You can vary the level of spiciness and thinking I was tough and because I love spicy food, I asked for the medium. I was wiping my brow, as my mouth was seemingly ON FIRE. but I loved it and ate on in-between cooling gulps of a lovely sweet lassi to quell the fire.  Jeff opted for a Biriyani, a dish that he happily put down without saying a word.  His rice arrived with a FACE, not that that detracted him from eating it.

Lakruwana was an excellent dining experience, so much so that we went back even more recently for their Sunday all you can eat lunch buffet.  For $11.95 (!) we stuffed our faces with delicious Sri Lankan specialties like curries, stewed vegetables, vegetable fried rice, basmati rice, and dessert of fresh yogurt with honey and mango mousse. FANTASTIC.  While Lakruwana stands where I once went to see local music, it was once a venue called S.R.O., I’m totally okay with what it has progressed to, a unique Staten Island dining experience. Go there and support them, you won’t be disappointed!

The second place I want to mention is Bay Street Luncheonette and Soda Fountain. Long name, right? Small place, but great! This one is located a little further down Bay towards the Fort at 1189 Bay.  Another find of Scott Wegener’s! About Scott, he’s an artist and helps to create a great comic book (with Jeff) called Atomic Robo. Check the link above and read all about it, it’s an excellent comic book for both kids AND adults filled with amazing artwork that Scott sometimes complains about producing but does so with finesse! I’m a fan!  But I digress.  Step into the Bay Street Luncheonette and step in the 1950’s! 

Chrome dining sets with cherry leather seats, a full length soda counter serving up a complete menu of traditional egg creams, ice cream shakes and root beer floats and if you, like me are still mourning the loss of the A&W diner on Hylan, you can rejoice because this place does a fine job creating your previously lost favorites.  The menu is pretty straightforward breakfast- omelets, egg sandwiches, hash browns, pancakes and thick French toast.  The prices here are EXCELLENT, more than affordable and everything served by an overly attentive wait staff that are friendly and personable.  If you know me, all I want from a good dining experience is GOOD food and friendly faces, and you pretty much will have me as a patron for life.  So, go cure your hangover and go get your Sunday buffet on, these two places are worth going to so let’s help keep these small businesses alive.   Cheers shaolin! Keep up the good eats!


  1. we love bay street luncheonette. maggie always behaves, they put her picture on the wall. the florentine omelette is so good. i want to try lakruwnana....

  2. Noted and on the list of places to go this month!

  3. Nadine, that is cute that they give Maggie the priority seating and celebrity local status! LOVE that!

  4. Lakruwana is the JUMPOFF! If you didn't try their lentil soup (I forget what it's called, but the owner is really proud of it) it's in a class of it's own. Go back and get some.

  5. OMG!!!. Sri Lankan cuisine is nothing like Northern Indian food at all. In Sri Lanka they use spicier curries and heavily concentrated in coconut and fish as to where North Indian is not. Sri Lankans surely don't use Garam Masala either, rather Lankans use black curry powder which is totally amazing and unique.