Ja-makin Me Crazy! – Jamaican Cuisine

Dan says…2009-fork-you-various-070a

Jamaican Cuisine located in the China Town of South Charleston has been Ja-Makin me crazy for several months. We have been teased by their impending opening for for awhile now. It is finally open, and I’ve been craving this authentic island food. Several readers had reported that they were suffering from new restaurant hiccups, such as no menus and off service. After giving them a couple of weeks to work the kinks out it was time for a visit. So when my good friend called me as I was leaving Kanawha State Forest and asked if I wanted to dine at Jamaican Cuisine I said, “Does Bob Marley like the Ganja!”

Located in the the valley’s only ethnic neighborhood, Jamaican Cuisine is in a simple store front on 7th Ave near Taste of Asia. Decorated in the national colors, green and yellow, the walls are adorned with two pictures of the patron saint of the island nation – Bob Marley. A Jamaican flag rounds out the decor. I’m thinking that a picture of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, would be in order. Four top tables line the walls with the cashier in back.

We visited on a Sunday evening in March and they were still out of menus. They had been busy and only a limited selection of items was available. They had roast beef, curry goat, whole red snapper, cow trotters plus one or two more that escape me. According to the hostess the most popular dishes are the jerked chicken and curry shrimp. After talking to people who have eaten here the menu is merely a list of items that they might be serving that day. If you’re not flexible and laid back this might not be the place for you. They prepare their signature items fresh everyday and when they run out it’s gone.

Curry Goat

Curry Goat

I selected the curry goat. I have had mutton before and don’t find it to have the gaminess that people complain about. The dinner portion is served with rice, corn & pea macaroni salad, and a sweet corn spoon bread. The plate was garnished with iceberg lettuce, a tomato slice and cucumber. The goat was a true winner. Whole sections of bone-in goat are stewed with curry, carrots and potatoes until tender. The goat meat was tender as filet and quite spicy. The rice and macaroni were good, but were just playing a supporting role to the star of the show. The corn bread was interesting, but I would have preferred some plantains.

Special care should be taken when eating the goat and the jerked chicken. You will find bones in your entrée. Against a popular American belief there are cuts of meat other than skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Don’t be afraid of the bones, but do take your time when selecting your next bite.

Roast Beef

Roast Beef

My friend ordered the roast beef. It was served with the same sides as the goat. The roast beef was tender and was topped with red peppers. The sauce was sweet with a mildly spicy finish. I asked the hostess what was in the roast beef’s sauce and she told me quickly that it was a secret. Whatever, it’s not like I’m going to run out and open my own Jamaican restaurant or even attempt to make it at home. Come on! Tell me a couple ingredients and smile to make me happy.

Most entrées are priced at $14.80. This is higher than I expected, but not unreasonable. They are using great ingredients and the food tastes great. I would have liked a little more protein and less rice for my money. Our main courses seemed a little on the small side. They sell bottled sodas, water and homemade juices. A beer would have made my curry taste even better. Right now you can carry in your own beer and wine. They stated that they would have a beer and wine license in a week or two (or longer).

I am hoping that my fear of being a victim of some island voodoo doesn’t influence my review. If you want something truly unique then visit the THREE Fork Jamaican Cuisine.


Charleston, WV 25303
(304) 744-9700

Sinbads on Urbanspoon


21 responses to “Ja-makin Me Crazy! – Jamaican Cuisine

  1. Is photography allowed inside the restaurant? I hear that some places don’t like you taking pictures of their food.

    The food looks good and I like some brow sweat halfway through an entree. I am anxious to try it. But I think I’ll call ahead to see if jerked chicken is available first – I want to compare theirs to the delicious version Ron makes at home.

  2. Thanks for the info, and the pics. I especially appreciate that this is in no way related to Billy’s. Seems like that’s all that’s been talked about on here lately.

    • Your welcome. You must of missed all the Mr. Wilson’s talk. Oh and about Billy’s I’ll have a review soon. I enjoyed my last meal there. 😉

  3. I had a take out order of Tofu & Vegetables there last week and really enjoyed it. It seems my lunch portion may have been as large as your dinner portion? My lunch totally filled one of the normal sized styrofoam containers that most places have. Which was great for the price.

  4. I plan to try this place next time I’m in Charleston, but damn, that sure is expensive! Do they have a cheaper lunch menu?

    • They have one in huntington now. The store hours are not correct. She opens when she wants. She has money and is worried about nobody but herself and american money. Support the USA eat american food or buy a recipe book.

  5. Garrett –

    Lunches are $9.85.

  6. demosthenes.or.locke

    Ron makes curry?

    Does the recipe involve cheezits?

  7. Ate there this evening.
    The curried snapper was a whole fish. . . done very good for a whole pan fried fish and the curry sauce was exactly what I like about Caribe curry. . . a good curry taste with whole components that gives it a very tangy and fresh taste.
    The jerk chicken, while a little mild for my taste but was really good. A nice heavy jerk sauce with a bold flavor which was a little different than what I’m used to in a jerk sauce and a little less “jerk” flavor than I’m used to, but then maybe I’ve never really had authentic Jamaican.
    The festival and bammy was tasty and a nice side.
    It was all good and well worth the price.

  8. I have been to Jamaica and had authentic jerk chicken as well as several other meals. The jerk chicken here was declicious and brought back memories of my honeymoon. The festivals were amazing and I even bought an order to go. TIP: dip the festivals in jerk sauce. AMAZING.

    The price is high, but worth it. You can go in at lunch for a cheaper entree price.

    I totally plan to go back! You have to check it out!

  9. Demo-

    I realize it is hard to believe, given the things Ron says on this blog, but he can actually make some great meals at home…none involving cheez-its. He saves stuff like that for his super-cheap lunches at work.

    Ron’s jerked chicken is really delicious, although sometimes he adds too many scotch bonnets for me to handle.

  10. He also makes killer cheese cake!

  11. Note: there are no cheez-its in the cheese cake.

  12. This was a waste of time, it’s run more like a Shoneys than a $15 dollar a plate restaurant. For that money I’ll go to Outback and get a quality meal in a clean atmosphere.

  13. We went there a couple of weeks ago and it was fabulous. I don’t know what others are talking about when they say it wasn’t clean. It was spotless when we were there and the owner was more than happy to explain menu items and offer suggestions. Everyone at the table ordered something different and we shared. While a little afraid to try it at first, I did partake of the oxtail and it was delicious. It’s akin to roast beef and was so tender it was falling from the bone. The curry shrimp was also a favorite. It’s not like Asian curries, this was more buttery and smooth. The hot garlic shrimp was just okay, not much flavor when compared with everything else. The jerk chicken was also great. Yes, there are bones in the meat but I didn’t have a problem with finding any tiny ones. The vegetable soup is also very good. Fresh, crisp vegetables are served in a chicken stock. They do not serve wine or beer but you’re more than welcome to bring in your own which is what we did. And we received a quick cooking lesson while there. The owner told us when making stocks to use the garlic and onion peel. These are things Americans generally throw away but when boiled in the water, they provide more flavor. We’ll definitely be going back soon.

  14. I just ate at Jamaican Cuisine yesterday and they now have beer. Hooray! Food was yummy and very authentic. We started with the conch fritters they were just okay. I had the jerk ribs and my husband had the curry goat. Both dishes were spicy, but not too spicy. The spicy level was enought to require greater water intake, but not enough to take away from the pleasure & flavors of the food. We split the plantains for dessert. They were sweet and caramelized. The place was amazingly clean, I could have eaten off the bathroom floor. The lunch crowd was small. I hope they will develop the fan base needed to stay open. I could eat there again today!

  15. this place is bad to the bone

  16. I would like to say that the owner of the Cuisine does not care for the well being of the employees or their families. When it comes to depending on the Jamaican Cuisine for a paycheck so that you will be able to pay your bills please do not make the same mistake that others have. Be responsible and find an employer that cares. People from these foreign countries come here to get rich and go home. Keep the wealth in the USA. Work for an American based company.

    • I don’t agree that people from foreign countries come here to get rich. Some come to make a living. In this case however, you are correct. The owner of Jamaica Cuisine has no concern for anyone but herself. Her employees are treated like dirt, worked like slaves and paid like children working in a sweat shop. I would advise someone to look into it because I do believe the conditions fall under industrial labor. This woman gives foreigners a bad name. It is rather disappointing.

  17. The juice drinks are good. I’ve been to the caribbean like some of you claim and the jerk chicken in no way comes close to what I had down there. Service was lackluster and they were running some bizzaro coupon scheme where the lady told me that our buy one get one 1/2 off meant writing my name down in a notebook at the counter and when we came back next time for another meal we would get one 1/2 off. Definitely weird and not that great. I think people are more into this place for some sort of cultural experience or something other than the food like it’s the cool place to go or something.

  18. My husband and I ate there today. We tried the goat curry, banana fritter, and a papaya/banana juice. I thought it was very good. It was the first time trying Jamaican food. We will be back! The lunch specials are only $5.00 a plate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s