As much as I like meat, it is nice to know that there is never any difficulty finding excellent meatless foods everywhere in and around New York City. When in Jersey City, heading down to the blocks of Newark Avenue near Journal Square is an excellent place for just this.
Many restaurants serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian tastes on separate menus, but Sapthagiri is one place that caters to the "pure" vegetarian crowd, as its menu advertises. Before you even get your orders in, they bring out rasam, a free starter that is simply described as "South Indian spicy soup." And spicy it is, tasting like a combination of fiery pepper in water. We also wanted their delicious mango lassies ($3), and went for the standard samosas ($2.99 for 2, below).
We knew it would probably be too much, but in addition to our giant paper masala dosa ($6.99, above), we ordered both a bisi bele bath ($7.49, below), and a paneer paratha ($3.49, bottom). The dosa was as good as usual for Newark Avenue, with its mashed potato mix on the side a spicy mix excellently dip-able in the sambar that it is served with as well. The coconut chutney is usually the dish still full for me at a dosa meal.
The bisi bele bath sounds simple enough, "rice cooked with lentils, garden fresh vegetables, and spices," but has anything but a simple taste. It comes with a yogurt sauce that tones down some of the spice if required.
The tandoor was not working, so there was no naan on this night, and we decided to order a paratha. Since cheese had not made it into any of our dishes yet, the paneer paratha was the obvious choice and did not fail to please. This cheese was actually spiced up as well, so none of our dishes gave our taste buds any respite.
So far I have been to only three and I am anxious to try more of the restaurants lining Newark Avenue, but I am confident that Sapthagiri would remain at or near the top of the list. The people are friendly and professional of course, and by the end of the meal you will be less than $15 poorer.