Since I moved to New York, I’ve visited four out of five boroughs pretty regularly. I lived in both Queens and Manhattan. I went to Brooklyn all the time. I’ve enjoyed the Dominican and Italian food in the Bronx, not to mention a number of visits to Yankee Stadium (with work, obviously; I can’t stand baseball). But the closest I’d ever gotten to Staten Island was taking the free Staten Island ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island, just for the free boat ride, and then boarding the ferry to come right back. That’s a little embarrassing, but I knew Staten Island would not be an easy place to get around, and it seemed like a foreign land to me even though it’s technically part of New York City.
Today, Chris rented us a Zipcar, and we finally made our first visit to Staten Island. It’s pretty spread out, so it would be pretty much impossible to explore on foot. There is a bus system through the island, but who the heck wants to rely on that to get around? We made good use of time, grabbing some Italian pastries and freshly baked bread from Royal Crown Bakery, eating delicious Sri Lankan food at Lakruwana along Bay Street, and even stopping at a brewery for local beers on tap (well, for him).
While at Lakruwana, I read an article that was recently published on them in January. While I’d read in the New York Times that Staten Island had the biggest Sri Lankan population in New York City (and actually, the biggest Sri Lankan population outside of Sri Lanka!), I didn’t realize that of the 5,000 Sri Lankans here that 30 percent of them reside in Staten Island. I’m sure there are historical reasons for that, but that made me sad that Sri Lankan food was not closer to us for us to eat more frequently. Lakruwana actually originally opened in the mid-90s in Hell’s Kitchen, but after a fire that burnt down the entire restaurant, when the owners, a husband and wife team, were asked if they wanted to re-open in the same area, they decided it would be easier for them to re-open but in Staten Island, since it would be an easier commute for them given they lived there. And so the Sri Lankan population grew, plus the restaurants in Staten Island.
New York City — I’m so blessed to call this extremely diverse place my home. How can you get bored of New York when you are constantly visiting new places like this right here?!