Notable Jamaican food in Toronto?
Anyone know of some good Jamaican restaurants in TO? I'll be up there soon and know there's a decent number of Jamaicans there. The wife loves Ackee and saltfish too, yummmm.
I'm with Pete...the spice is hard to come by. There are many options that are good in every other dept. aside from heat/spice, however.
Central: Albert's on St. Clair (a 'jerk institution', primarily take-out, medium heat)
East: Cool Runnings on Main Street (sweet/hot/sticky jerk, tiny eat-in space, super friendly)
East: Real Jerk at Queen/Broadview (good variety, short on heat, good music, funky ambiance)
East: JJJ on Kingston Road (never been, friends rave about it)
It seems that everyone likes a different style of jerk, so it requires exploration....
re: fleur de sell
Hubby and I tried Cool Runnings on your rec. We ordered two rotis, one chicken, one veggie. I can forgive a lack of heat (one can always use hot sauce), but not flavour. As soon as I saw the sauce, I felt nervous, as the colour just wasn't deep and rich like I expect from a well-seasoned & cooked curry. Hubby's comment was "they need to add some spices to the sauce", and he usually shies away from spicy things, so that's saying a lot.
I was so keeping my fingers crossed the food would be good here, the place clean, service friendly. The latter two seemed, for the most part, true, but the rotis were just plain disappointing.
Two places that come to mind are Patty King in Kensington Market with saltfish, ackee, coco and hardo bread, homemake ginger beer, mauby and all kinds of other treats. The other is Fish Shak on Dundas just west of Bathurst. They have saltfish sometimes but they've also got many others, and some very delicious Jamaican sides.
There's only two places where i have regularly gotten jerk but mostly because of convenience. First is Aunt Essie's in Scarborough but I don't know if they still exist. They're located in the Knob Hill plaza at Brimley/Eglinton Ave East. Aunt Essie sold the place a few years ago but they kept on all the staff. Their pork and chicken jerk was HOT. I'm Korean and sometimes the jerk made my eyes water. There was real scotch bonnet in there no doubt.
The other place is beside my work. I believe it's called Carribean Kitchen. It's near Jarvis and Bloor behind the Swiss Chalet in the Greenwin mall. It's a tiny operation but man is it ever good.
My Jamaican co-worker used to swear by Aunt Essie but she hasn't been out there in a long while she said. Hopefully they're still around turning out pepper pot soup still! She also recommended to me two places in another Scarborough plaza. It's near McCowan and Shepard Ave East. One block south of Shepard behind the Shell gas station there's a hidden plaza. I've eaten at the one that's on the east end of the plaza and it was very very good. They had wicked ox tail.
For beef patties, I second the rec for Randy's (on Eglinton east of Oakwood).
For jerk pork, I recommend Mr Jerk (on Wellesley, east of Sherbourne). It's especially yummy on a coco bun with oxtail gravy.
For oxtail and rice and peas, I second the rec for Albert's (on St Clair at Vaughan).
For ackee and saltfish or escovitch fish, I like Fish Shak (I heard they moved to Dundas from Kensington Market but haven't been to the new location). I don't think they have folded, they might just be on "island time" ;-) I have seen them at the Dufferin Grove farmer market on Thursdays.
If you can't get to Fish Shak, then Royal Caribbean (on St Clair east of Dufferin) might be an option. Theirs is pretty good but not better than Fish Shak's.
Ackee Tree (on Spadina north of Queen) does a nice jerk chicken sandwich.