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.
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.
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