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Notable Jamaican food in Toronto?

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Papaya9 Dec 15, 2008 08:01 PM

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.

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  1. justpete RE: Papaya9 Dec 15, 2008 11:24 PM

    haven't found any authentic jerk in Toronto as of yet. JJJ's in Scarborough is pretty good, but lacks spice... Ackee Tree on Spadina isn't bad either.

    But I'm still searching!

    2 Replies
    1. re: justpete
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      fleur de sell RE: justpete Dec 16, 2008 05:22 AM

      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....

      1. re: fleur de sell
        Full tummy RE: fleur de sell Dec 30, 2008 01:35 PM

        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.

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      escoffier RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 05:22 AM

      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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: escoffier
        Edith S RE: escoffier Dec 16, 2008 07:44 AM

        I think Fish Shak is gone. I've gone by for the last six months and it's never open.

      2. c
        CoffeeAddict416 RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 07:55 AM

        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.

        1. p
          Papaya9 RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 01:47 PM

          Thanks everyone, I appreciate it. The best I was able to come up with is Randy's patties, which I'm not sure has a full Jamaican menu. Again thanks and this will help me on my TO Trip. Glad to find a place that has ackee and saltfish :)

          Regards

          K

          4 Replies
          1. re: Papaya9
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            tj2007 RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 06:25 PM

            It doesn't look like much from the outside, but you must try Planet Crystal on Church street .

            1. re: tj2007
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              Papaya9 RE: tj2007 Dec 16, 2008 07:45 PM

              Thank you TJ :)

              1. re: Papaya9
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                futronic RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 08:36 PM

                Good call, TJ. It's been a long time since I've been there, but the jerk chicken was always great.

            2. re: Papaya9
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              wontonfm RE: Papaya9 Dec 16, 2008 09:20 PM

              Randy's does have food other than patties (pretty sure they do oxtail and a few others) but they seem to do most of their business in patties... just an observation, my not be fact!

              WON
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              http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

            3. f
              fickle RE: Papaya9 Dec 17, 2008 08:04 AM

              For beef patties, I second the rec for Randy's (on Eglinton east of Oakwood).
              http://randystakeout.com/

              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).
              http://albertsrealjamaicanfood.com/de...

              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.
              http://www.fishshak.com/

              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.

              1. p
                Papaya9 RE: Papaya9 Dec 17, 2008 03:21 PM

                Thanks WonTon and Fickle. I'm getting hungry with all this Jerk talk :) Thanks again!
                K

                1. JonasBrand RE: Papaya9 Dec 18, 2008 08:32 PM

                  Rap's Authentic Jerk Chicken up on Eglington (west of The Allen) is rocking. Totally authentic! So delicious!

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                  Raps
                  1541 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M6E, CA

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JonasBrand
                    aser RE: JonasBrand Dec 30, 2008 10:25 PM

                    my minor complaint w/ rap's for jerk is the spice level, it needs to be hotter. Otherwise it's the best I've had in the city. I can really pick up the pimento flavour.

                    Spence's close by has a much saucier jerk, spicier than Rap's, but the overall flavour isn't on Rap's level.

                  2. p
                    Papaya9 RE: Papaya9 Dec 30, 2008 06:23 PM

                    I ate at Ackee Tree last weekend. it was pretty good (jerk Chick sand., Veggie patty, Ackee/saltfish) but I was very disappointed they didn't carry authentic scotch bonnet pepper sauce. Very disappointed.

                    1. Ginsugirl RE: Papaya9 Jan 3, 2009 07:02 AM

                      Gerry's on St. Clair West does some bang-on rotis. I like the potato, but get some oxtail gravy for dipping, SO gets the beef. (Their patties are lousy, though.) Curry Goat was fab the one time I had it. The rotis are homemade, full of peameal and quite buttery. Good peeps on proper island time, but do you really want a braised dish served up in McFood time? Haven't tried their jerk yet (I'm a creature of habit), but would like reviews on it if anyone has one. Nothing is too spicy, just a good balance of seasonings. Oh, they're dead cheap for the ammount of food you get.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ginsugirl
                        ChalkBoy RE: Ginsugirl Jan 3, 2009 07:12 AM

                        Roti are not a Jamaican dish. They're Trinidadian/Guyanese by way of India/Pakistan.

                        1. re: ChalkBoy
                          Ginsugirl RE: ChalkBoy Jan 3, 2009 07:20 PM

                          True about the roti, but most Jamaican places have adopted them by now. Tasty and portable, it's just good business sense. And the best hot sauce is Trini anyway (Yay Matouks!).

                      2. w
                        wickalicious RE: Papaya9 Jan 3, 2009 08:37 AM

                        having had jerk from a bunch of places on eglinton west (rap's, mr. jerk, tinnell's and a few others whose names i can't recall), the best i've found (for my palate, anyway) was at first class delites at eglinton and weston. it's much hotter than the other places i've ordered jerk, but not so hot that all you can taste is heat.

                        1. w
                          wontonfm RE: Papaya9 Jan 3, 2009 11:10 AM

                          I tend to enjoy the jerk chicken meal at Ritz. I go to the one on Yonge just north of Wellesley on the west side of the street.

                          WON
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                          http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

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