photo by Bradley Hawks

Amid the jumble of East Village Indian joints, where hawkers attempt to lure passersby under strands of gaudy lights, sits a second-level sliver of space that’s home to Sigiri, one of the few Sri Lankan restaurants in NYC. Tanya DeSilva and Mala Rajapakse opened this place in the middle of the last decade because they wanted to bring the Big Apple a taste of their native land, and they’ve had no trouble packing their room. This is a good place to let your server take control of your meal; he’ll likely start you with gothamba roti, a chewy pancake stuffed with spiced beef and vegetables, before bringing you lamprais — a banana-leaf-wrapped package of chicken, boiled egg, and plantains — and black curry: pork or chicken stew steeped with cardamom, coriander, and cumin. Sigiri dials up the spice level until you can’t stand it, so if you’re sensitive to heat, be careful what you ask for. And be sure to stop into the deli next door before heading up the steps — you’ll need cash to pay for your meal, and you’ll want to pick up some beer: Sigiri is BYOB.