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Sri Lanka, Staten Island: New Asha

Take the famous ferry to Staten Island, where you’ll find New Asha Sri Lankan Restaurant, 322 Victory Blvd., specializing in authentic Sri Lankan and South Indian Cuisine since 1997.

One of the signature dishes is Kottu Roti, or string hoppers with coconut sambol, explains Asha Subhaschandraboasc, for whom the restaurant was named when she was just 5.

“The string hoppers has a famous side dish known as sambol, which is made of freshly grated coconut, red curry powder, onions and green chili,” Asha says.

“‘Kottu’ in Sri Lankan means ‘chopped,’ so we chop up pieces of roti (flat bread) and fuse it with your choice of curry (chicken, fish or mutton) and mix it with fresh veggies such as carrots and leeks with scrambled eggs, spices, and onion,” she says. “There’s a burst of flavor from all the ingredients and it’s definitely a favorite among our customers.”

Idiyappam is also well known here. A traditional South Indian dish consisting of rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed, it can be served with a coconut milk curry called Sothi, a mild spiced yellow curry with onions.

Her aunt, Viji, was born and raised in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and came to the U.S. in the ‘80s, eventually moving from Queens to Staten Island to run the thriving family business.

“Little did we know that our simple ‘hole-in-the-wall’ store, as many would call it, would turn out to be a success in the hearts and stomachs of many people,” she says.