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Jersey City's Little India--where are all the chowhounds?

famdoc Nov 22, 2010 06:51 AM

Nearly a year after reading Seitsema's piece about Sapthagiri (http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-02-0...), we finally made it to Jersey City's Little India and to that fine vegetarian joint. Incredible! Just a short PATH ride from Manhattan is NYC's best Little India (better than Jackson Heights? I think so. better than Curry Hill? Hell yeah!).

A search of Chowhound shows few, if any, mentions of some of the gems in this four-block long tour of the lesser-known (to Westerners like me) cuisines of India.

Would other hounds let me know which of the other joints along Newark Ave. they like (and why they like it), since I'm planning a return trip very soon.

-----
Sapthagiri
804 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

  1. b
    BrianYarvin Nov 22, 2010 10:35 AM

    Interesting question famdoc!

    The problem is that Jersey City is its own netherworld. New Yorkers don't want to go there because it's an extra fare and not exactly in "the city" and we Garden State residents don't often go there because it's too congested and urban.

    Nothing that's served in J.C. isn't also served in other parts of the state that also offer more elbow room, easier access, and grief-free parking. When you think about it, the Indian communities in NY are really spillover from the much larger areas in New Jersey.

    I mean...if Jersey City amazes you, what would happen if you saw Oak Tree Road?

    12 Replies
    1. re: BrianYarvin
      famdoc Nov 22, 2010 07:35 PM

      @BrianYarvin

      Well, I pass through Edison nearly every Friday and only once stopped for Indian food, but not on Oak Tree Rd. Looks like I'll be making more frequent detours!

      Plenty of chowhounds from NYC make the trip to Flushing, to Jackson Heights, to Bay Ridge, to the soccer fields of Red Hook. Is JC much farther? I think Indian cuisine is not very popular among "gourmands" right now. As we walked down Newark Ave., I saw very few, if any, Westerners. Similarly, on recent visits to the restaurants of Curry Hill, few Westerners. There's a bias among chowhounds (call them "foodies" "gourmands" or whatever) towards meat, exotic meat, organ meat. Veggie food is just not "in" right now. I don't think most NYC chowhounds would think twice of visiting a highly-touted BBQ place, food truck or salumeria in JC, just a few minutes from the Village or WTC via PATH. But, I'm afraid, not veggie South Indian.

      1. re: famdoc
        b
        BrianYarvin Nov 23, 2010 04:05 AM

        My expeirence is that for people from New York City, making the trip across the Hudson for food is tough. Indeed, many people who live in New Jersey would rather travel into the city than try places in their own state.

        Indian isn't the only cuisine that's better represented outside the city than in it, but it's the most extreme example.

        I believe that it doesn't matter what's "in," New Yorkers are in no mood to come to New Jersey and Jersey-ites would rather go to "the city" than eat better food at home. Indeed, there are "highly touted" places of all sorts just across the river, in Jersey City, Union City, or wherever, and New Yorkers almost never go to those either.

        I wish there was some way to convince my fellow New Jersey residents that they're better off staying in the state for ethnic dining, but I'm not optimistic. New York City has an amazing magnetic pull that I feel myself often enough.

        1. re: BrianYarvin
          Ike Dec 4, 2010 01:34 PM

          I agree that, unfortunately, Jersey City is its own "netherworld" and New Yorkers generally refuse to go there. Even many of the ones who will venture out from Manhattan to the outer boroughs seem to be afraid, or disdainful, of riding the PATH to NJ the same distance that they'd go on the subway to a(n official) borough. That said, when I've ventured outside of the realm of dosas, or the buffet at Baba Hut, I haven't had anything really excellent in Jersey City's Little India. But I haven't tried Sapthagiri yet. I've been meaning to go there. But overall, I've had MUCH better Indian food experiences in NJ than in NYC (at Aroma in Montclair, at the defunct Indian Chef in the National Wholesale Liquidators in Lodi, etc.). And I'd MUCH rather stay here in NJ for Indian food than go to Curry Hill/Murray Hill.

          Since I ride the PATH nearly every day, Jersey City's Indian neighborhood is much more convenient to me than Oak Tree Rd., so I wonder if there are any equally good Indian restaurants in JC. Sure, I can get in my car and drive down to Oak Tree Rd. but that's a good 25-minute ride and I can more easily just to go Aroma in Montclair if I'm going to drive somewhere. So I sure wish there were more posts on JC's Indian neighborhood and what's good there, but yeah, somehow it IS its own forbidding little circle of geographic purgatory. It's easy to get to, yet even *I* am disinclined to get off the PATH when passing through Journal Square and walk three blocks over there.

          (Of course, other examples of cuisines that are better in NJ than in NYC are Lebanese and Vietnamese.)

          1. re: Ike
            Duppie Dec 4, 2010 03:32 PM

            As well as Philippino, Max's fried chicken,Red Ribbon bakery,all the little Turo Turo joints on Newark ave,also the new Bon Chon chicken downtown and a rumored Bahn Mi and Pho takeout place opening soon.

        2. re: famdoc
          Duppie Nov 23, 2010 07:35 AM

          I would have to agree with Brian Yardin, there just isn't enough on Mahatma Gandhi blvd to draw anyone from the city. The dry goods, spices and restaurants can all be sourced in Curry Hill or the West Village and it's still 3 long,barren blocks from Journal square. There are no stand out restaurants like Woodside's Sripraphai or Arthur Avenue in the Bronx that have the draw to put people on trains and eventually explore the neighborhood.

          1. re: Duppie
            b
            BrianYarvin Nov 23, 2010 08:20 AM

            Duppie:

            It's interesting that you saw my post as saying this; it's exactly what most people from the city tell me.

            Is the quality of Indian food in New Jersey generally higher than that of NYC?

            Maybe.

            Are there great Indian restaurants in New Jersey?

            A few.

            Are New Jersey Indian neighborhoods like Jersey City and Oak Tree Road worth a visit for Indian food enthusiasts?

            Absolutely!

            Will I ever be able to convince hard-core food fans of this?

            No.

            1. re: BrianYarvin
              Duppie Nov 23, 2010 09:19 AM

              Some of the best Indian food I've had is in the Plainsboro area but again they are not concentrated in one urban center and obviously a car is necessary, a hard sell for all but the determined few who are truly adventurous and possess a Zip Car account.

              1. re: BrianYarvin
                famdoc Nov 23, 2010 10:20 AM

                You've convinced me.
                Now, which of the Oak Tree Road restaurants are standouts? There are just too many to randomly choose.

                1. re: famdoc
                  b
                  BrianYarvin Nov 23, 2010 11:23 AM

                  Famdoc:

                  My own current favorites are Moghul Express (not the big Moghul), Jhudpi and Saravanaa Bhavan.

                  But quality changes rapidly and anything can happen.

                  Idly's, a food court with veg and non-veg sections is also very good. And if they're serving Bejha Fry on the day you're there, you'll get something you surely won't find in Curry Hill.

                  1. re: BrianYarvin
                    Duppie Nov 23, 2010 12:07 PM

                    Also Sankalp for the idlis and dosas. Love their chutneys.

                    1. re: Duppie
                      b
                      BrianYarvin Nov 23, 2010 01:38 PM

                      I'll try Sankalp soon on your recommendation, but be aware that oaktreeroad.us, the only site that blogs on the subject, has a different view of Sankalp entirely.

                      http://www.njindia.us/sankalp-nj-revi...

                      1. re: BrianYarvin
                        Duppie Nov 23, 2010 06:35 PM

                        so does yelp,but I stand by the idli and dosas.

        3. alexvb Apr 17, 2011 02:12 PM

          Hey, there. I'm totally with you! Sapthagiri is amazing. We actually covered it in a Chow segment on NY1. I picked the chole bhatura for our video segment, but also loved the paneer makhni, coconut uttapam, samosa chaat, etc etc. It's a great place. Here's the video if you're curious.
          http://www.chow.com/digest/79067/ny-c...

          Best,
          Alex Van Buren
          Contributing Editor, CHOW.com

          -----
          Sapthagiri
          804 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

          2 Replies
          1. re: alexvb
            famdoc Apr 17, 2011 05:22 PM

            Great, great feature!
            Will watch for your future video contributions.

            1. re: famdoc
              alexvb Apr 17, 2011 07:19 PM

              Thanks! It runs on NY1 on Tuesdays & Saturdays, and you can find it in the NY CHOW Digest, as well. Yay, Sapthagiri!

              -----
              Sapthagiri
              804 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

          2. z
            zoe111 Apr 17, 2011 03:34 PM

            this vietnamese place with the best pho (noodle soup) broth in nj is located at 249 newark ave. service not always the friendliest.

            3 Replies
            1. re: zoe111
              Quine Apr 17, 2011 03:56 PM

              Er zoe, you get lost at the Path station? this thread and the restaurant mentioned is Indian, as in India. Nothing Vietnamese was mentioned.

              1. re: Quine
                z
                zoe111 Apr 17, 2011 04:14 PM

                oops, sry for skimming. read last paragraph of original post. thought famdoc was looking for other good newark ave restaurants.

                1. re: zoe111
                  m
                  michelleats May 21, 2011 05:16 PM

                  But... I'm benefiting from and appreciate the suggestion, Zoe111. Doing research on places to eat after Liberty State Park excursions. Your Nha Trang Place suggestion sounds great (as does Alexvb's Sapthagiri suggestion) -- thank you.

            2. ChefJune May 25, 2011 01:28 PM

              Interesting this is the first time I am seeing this thread.

              Jersey City's "Little India" area is not easily accessible from the Journal Square PATH without a bus ride. I have to say I have no idea which bus one would take from the Square. ;(

              However, I love the Samosas from Dosa Hut, and I know Indians who live in Queens who regularly request family members to bring them Samosas from Dosa Hut... If you love Samosas, it's worth a trip.

              -----
              Dosa Hut
              777 Newark Ave Ste A, Jersey City, NJ 07306

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune
                Duppie May 25, 2011 02:45 PM

                Actually, a bus is hardly necessary. It's only 3/31/2 blocks walk from Journal Square on Kennedy Blvd, How ever I recently ate at a very good Roti Shop on Communipaw Ave called "A taste of the Caribbean" that serves traditional Trinidadian Roti, Doubles,Ox Tails, Fish stew and I can't recommend it enough. Yep I know it's not in little India, but still a good place for West Indian Food,why nit pick?

                1. re: ChefJune
                  Ike May 27, 2011 01:56 PM

                  Huh? It's not far at all. It's 0.2 miles from the Journal Sq. PATH to the corner of JFK Blvd. and Newark Ave., according to Google Maps. (Obviously it's more of a problem for those with certain health problems or disabilities though.) Thanks for the tip about the samosas though. I've never had them at Dosa Hut.

                  -----
                  Dosa Hut
                  777 Newark Ave Ste A, Jersey City, NJ 07306

                2. 2
                  2000man May 29, 2011 07:20 PM

                  Last night, I went to Sapthagiri with some friends. Our meal was amazing. We all shared the sampler appetizer to start. It was great. Two of us had dosas. They were great. The "Spring" dosa was excellent. I had the curry with okra. It was spicy and delicious. The waitstaff was super nice. After our dinner, the owner/chef/manager? came over and delivered a round of mango lassis on the house.

                  The scene was amazing. There were lots of people out on the street. There is a really nice vibe to Little India. The OP is right. Chowhound folks need to get to Jersey City and check it out.

                  -----
                  Sapthagiri
                  804 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

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