NORMAL HEIGHTS. Jyoti-Bihanga is a vegetarian restaurant, tucked into a quiet section of Normal Heights, and offers an array of vegan options:
- Hummos Dip Appetizer
- Dinner Salad (there are 2 home made vegan salad dressing options: sesame herb and lemon tahini)
- Vegan Neatloaf
- Neatloaf Sandwich,
- Peace, Light, and Bliss Burger
- BBQ Mock Duck Sandwich
- Thai Stir Fry
- Blue Plate Special
- Grilled Portobello Wrap
- Hummos Wrap
- Apple Pie
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake
Jyoti-Bihanga is best known for its Neatloaf, which has consistently outsold all other menu items since the restaurant’s opening in 1986. The Neatloaf is a mixture of brown rice, grains, tofu, and spices that are blended together, baked, and topped with a tomato based sauce. Mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and toast cover the remainder of the plate. I have ordered the vegan Neatloaf many times, and it never disappoints. It is true vegan comfort food.
The Portobello Mushroom Wrap is another flavorful entrée. This vegan wrap consists of marinated slices of mushroom, grilled red peppers, fresh spinach, and a tofu-tamari sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Jyoti-Bihanga excels with marinades and sauces that spike flavor, and this wrap is no exception. I also love the complementary side salad. Instead of wilted iceberg lettuce and a few sad cherry tomatoes, Jyoti-Bihanga presents crisp romaine lettuce, sprouts, beets, and carrots with vibrant, almost distracting, colors.
I have to admit that when I first became interested in vegan food, I only had eyes for the desserts. I love desserts. Especially those crafted without sticks of butter, shortening, or mystery goop that send my blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. So thank you, Jyoti-Bihanga, for your vegan Apple Pie. Granny Smith apples lightly sweetened with brown sugar and baked in a whole wheat crust. Simple. And perfect. The result is a tantalizing twist on the quintessential American dessert.
Excellent food aside, I love Jyoti-Bihanga for its peaceful atmosphere. The walls are a soft blue, and the servers always exude calm and kindness. Perhaps this peace is a function of Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual master, whose students own and operate the restaurant. A large picture of Sri Chinmoy looks down on the patrons, and there is an alcove with some of his books. Although Jyoti-Bihanga is dedicated to a certain ideology, there is no pressure put on customers to do anything besides enjoy their meal.
Jyoti-Bihanga also serves a breakfast buffet on selected Sundays from 9am to 1pm. The schedule is not posted online, but the restaurant can be reached at (619) 282-4116.
3351 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116