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Nov 28, 2006 09:08 PM

New Jamaican in Durham

As I was leaving Vit Goal Tofu restaurant today (behind Rudino's on 55), I spotted a new Jamaican restaurant called "Hot Pot" in the space formerly occupied by the Indian dessert shop*Mithrai?). It must have just opened. The sign said something about goat stew, among other things. Just thought I'd throw it out there for you fans of Jamaican food.

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  1. Thanks for the tip. That'll make three Jamaican joints within rock throwing distance from each other: Jamaica Jamaica, Sal's (originally a Rochester chicken and gourmet dog spot, now heavily featuring Jamaican), and the Hot Pot. And poor ol' me who works just up the road. Yip!

    Report soon...

    1 Reply
    1. re: FuzzyT

      Busride! you're a goddess Suse, now no excuses; I'm going, going, going. Fuzzy if you go there first, tell all; especially if there are
      patties, callaloo, ital stew, jerk, maubee

    2. I popped my head in there and picked up a menu. It's odd, this location is just takeout, but the woman said they had a dining room close by. More importantly, THEY DELIVER. She said they'll deliver as far away as Chapel Hill. I haven't tried the food yet, but if it's any good, I'm happy to have another place that brings hot meals to my door.

      For what it's worth, the place smelled great.

      1. I ate there yesterday. The situation is a little confusing. Hot Pot, the new restaurant, is owned by the same people as Sal's Birdland, one center over near Jamaica, Jamaica. Hot Pot doesn't have seating yet but may in the near future. If you go to Sal's, which is mostly a wing place (but they do have Upstate NY-style white hot dogs), and order Jamaican they'll bring it over from the Hot Pot.

        We were a little take aback by the prices at lunch. We ended up ordering a Mega-Meal and splitting it 3 ways. The Mega-Meal, at $13, includes 2 meats, rice and peas, cabbage and fried plantains. We chose curried goat and brown stew chicken. The goat was delicious but there were only four relatively small pieces. The chicken came in 2 quarters, 1 white and 1 dark, and was good but not outstanding. The cabbage was on the sweet side, the rice and peas clearly made with coconut milk, and the plantains deep-fried rather than sauteed (a nit-pick with me since I really am not supposed to be eating much fatty food). The portions of sides were very generous and I don't mind picking around the thyme stalks and allspice berries, but the amount of goat was very disappointing. For that price I would have expected some more.

        It's not necessarily better or worse than Jamaica Marketplace in Raleigh (although the curry goat at Hot Pot is better), just different. I'd eat there again, but since I don't live or work near the Park I don't think I'd make a special trip.

        I haven't been to Jamaica, Jamaica. How are they?

        Btw, patties - yes
        calalloo - yes
        Ital stew - don't think so
        Maubey - didn't see any at Sal's, can't say at Hot Pot

        1. I just got done polishing off a big plateful of the curry goat from the Hot Pot. I'll agree that the price ($8.99) seemed a bit steep, although when I hefted the carryout container & it weighed about 4 pounds, I figured I must be getting my money's worth somehow.

          Agreed as well that the quantity of goat was less than I would've liked, but the giant tray of rice-n-peas, potatoes & carrots, all thoroughly soaked in the curry sauce, was so delicious that I didn't mind.

          I wish I could say the same for the sides, which gave the impression of having sat around for a few days before I got to them. The plantains were dense, flavorless discs, and the rice-n-peas hiding underneath them were utterly dry (it was one of those 3-chamber styro takeout trays, and the rice-n-peas in the plantain section were either from a different batch than that under the goat, or that goat curry is truly magical, to have rendered its rice-n-peas so sweetly succulent). The cabbage was just kinda bland stewed cabbage.

          I'm plenty full without bothering with the sides anyway, and that goat was so good that I'll definitely be returning. (I transcribed most of the carryout "menu" below, just past this narrative of why she had to move, so scroll down or keep reading.)

          I also got an update on the mysterious situation with the move from the Sal's Birdland space next to Jamaica Jamaica. First a little background:

          I'm not sure of the timing, but sometime last year Sal's started adding Jamaican food to their menu. I don't know if the Hot Pot owner was the original Sal's franchisee, or if there was a change in ownership, or what, but all of a sudden it was Sal's Rochester wings & hot dogs, plus Jamaican cuisine.

          (I will confess that I thought "what can upstate NYers know about Jamaican food?" so I never went in--I know, I know, how lame. I have learned my lesson.)

          So, cut to a couple of months ago. The Jamaican food has more-or-less taken over the Sal's menu, and apparently the owner of Jamaica Jamaica, which has been in that stripmall for at least 10 years, is starting to get pissed.

          Maybe this is just on principle, or maybe it's because the food (with the exception of the patties) at Jamaica Jamaica is pretty weak, and he's worried about the competition. (The owner of the Hot Pot made it clear that in her opinion, it was the latter.)

          So according to the Hot Pot owner, the Jamaica Jamaica guy complained to their mutual landlord, who in turn threatened to evict the Hot Pot lady if she kept serving Jamaican food. Clearly not one to back away from a fight, she immediately rented out the corner storefront in the stripmall next to Jamaica Jamaica, which is where she is now (it's the space that used to be Uncle Frenchy's, and then spent a couple of years as an Indian sweet shop).

          There was a weird interim period where she was trying to keep both spaces open (hence Rockycat's scenario where they'd bring the food over to Sal's from the Hot Pot), but that apparently didn't satisfy either the landlord or the Jamaica Jamaica guy, so now the Sal's storefront is empty.

          She is currently waiting for her new landlord to shuffle tenants around & then give her access to the old Uncle Frenchy's dining room next door--she said it'll be a few months. In the meantime, she still has the lease on the Sal's space, so if anybody wants to dine in, she's walking them over there, unlocking the door, and letting them eat in there.

          The lease on the Sal's storefront is 3 years & $80,000, and she's not sure what she's going to do about it, so if you know somebody who wants to sublet a tiny restaurant space, pass the word (just so long, I guess, as they're not planning on serving Chinese, Jamaican, or Latinamerican food--wouldn't want to piss off any of the neighbors).

          I picked up a takeout "menu" (really just a postcard with a list of food; no prices):

          Jerk Chicken
          Jerk Ribs
          Curry Goat
          Curry Chicken
          Brown Stew Chicken
          Vegetarian Meals
          Ackee & Salt Fish (says Fri+Sat only, but the owner said soon 7 days)
          Callaloo (Fri+Sat only)
          Curried Shrimp
          Red Snapper & King Fish (call ahead)
          Escovitched (call ahead)
          Brown Stew Fish (call ahead)
          Pepper Steak (Fri-Sun)
          Soup (specialty soups Sat only)
          Veggie (soy) Chunks
          Stew Peas (Fri+Sat only)

          Fried Dumplings
          Boiled Dumplings
          Boiled Banana
          Rice & Peas
          White Rice
          Mac Salad


          Irish Moss

          She claims she'll deliver anywhere, including all the way to Chapel Hill, so here's the phone number: 919-544-8060

          1 Reply
          1. Rocky, Ross;
            thanks a lot for the heads up about patties & the menu. My favorites - callaloo, stew peas + patties (veg ones -great) mean Friday for sure. Ackee, Sorrell & Irish Moss for drinks show me this is the real deal.
            So once more, I'm sorry to ask but I'll be taking the TTA , so which mall is this? do you have the address. I figured they'd have Ital food due to the sheer amount of vegetarians about.