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Sri Lankan seems more elusive than the ubiquitous Indian (or is it really Bangladeshi?) restaurants that are clustered in parts of the city. I was excited to try this new-ish East Village place because I'd only eaten Sri Lankan food once before in Staten Island and this seemed more convenient (though at the rate I've been going the past few years, I get to the forgotten borough more than Alphabet City).

The style of food I had at New Asha was slightly different, heartier, more home style, less refined, and in some ways slightly more tasty. It was casual steam table fare. Sigiri, while hardly formal, is slightly more upscale in price and presentation.

I don't even know what is quintessentially Sri Lankan, hence ordering benchmarks are nebulous. But black curry seems unique, and Sigiri offers a version with pork. The black is really dark brown, achieved by toasting of spices like…I'm not sure which spices. Hoppers also seem unusual, little crispy crepe-like vessels that come four to an order, three plain, one with a sunny side up egg embedded in the bottom. Sambol is served as an accompaniment, we chose coconut.

We were warned about heat, but then, we always are and are always let down by wimpy-ness. Sigiri comes through, they really do mean hot when they say it. Our devilled prawns, which were grilled, came with onion, chiles and were slightly sweet and sour, but mostly spicy. The black curry was probably a notch hotter. We thought hoppers were eaten in lieu of rice, but had to order a bowl on the fly to combat the burn.

The staff, or at least one waitress, seemed to know practically all of the diners. I don't know if everyone was regulars or if the Sri Lankan community in NYC is just really small and restaurants are so few.

Sigiri * First Ave., New York, NY

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