Serious Eats: New York
Afternoon Snack: Dhal Vada and Vegetable Roti at New Asha on Staten Island
It's late afternoon and dinner is a few hours away. Where do you get a quick bite to carry you through the day? Afternoon Snack looks at quick bites to tide you over without spoiling dinner. Got a snack we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
Victory Boulevard is one of Staten Island's concentrated rows of immigrant deliciousness, especially where its sizable Sri Lankan community is concerned. And at New Asha, right across the street from the dosa mavens at Dosa Garden, there are some great snacks to be found at rock bottom prices.
First up: the Dhal Vada ($.75), or fried lentil cake, that you see above. The fritter is studded with chickpeas, cumin, and chilies for a surprisingly moist and spicy bite once you get past its thin crispy shell. There's a lot of flavor reward to be found in this little cake, which is about the diameter of a chocolate chip cookie but twice as thick at the center.
Though it's not deep fried, the Vegetable Roti ($1) tastes more greasy, but in the satisfying kind of way that you expect from a griddled savory flatbread. By "vegetable," New Asha seemed to mean potato, tender and mashed with some uneven chunks, and enriched with some sweetness and warm spicy funk (our money is on tamarind).
If those bites aren't enough for you, there's always the option of getting a half pint of steam table curry for $3 to $5. Unpictured, but delicious: a braise of potatoes and green onions in coconut milk with mustard seeds, a nourishing mini meal for the ferry ride home.
322 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10301 (map)