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Jul 4, 2009 09:50 AM

The Real Jerk?

Hi CHs! I am heading here later today ... any suggestions on what to have/avoid, for someone who hasn't tried Caribbean food before but has a sense of adventure and a love of spice? Thanks in advance!

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  1. This was new to me too, until I went to Jerk King a week ago.
    I had a simple chicken leg dinner, to go. They gave me a really nice (moist and spicy) quarter of chicken, chopped into slices on the bone, along with rice and peas, oxtail gravy, and braised cabbage with carrots. It was a good feed, less than $10.

    However, there was more rice than peas. The rice was converted. The oxtail gravy was more canned than real. These were all short cuts for a fast take out market. At the Real Jerk, I would ask them how they do their rice, peas (beans really, and often canned at most places), and oxtail gravy. The rice should be spiced, and not Uncle Ben's. The gravy should be slowly simmered with a real oxtail. Canned beans are OK, but really, no other short cuts from a place with a reputation. Let us know how you make out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayt90

      Thanks jayt90! I will try to remember to ask about the rice and the gravy and report back.

    2. Do you mean the one at Broadview & Queen? I haven't been to the new Don Mills location.

      The Jerk is one of those places that I hate to talk about because it used to be so incredibly good. Then they overexpanded (to at least two other locations), lost them in a previous recession, but hung on here.

      The owner can cook really well, and has done so at some catered events I attended. I don't know who's in the kitchen at the resto these days. The Jerk isn't bad, but it isn't going to wow your sense of adventure or love of spice.

      I haven't been in quite a while, so things could have changed for better or worse, but my comments relate to my experience over many years.

      The pattys were from Michidean's and were okay. The roti were generously filled, tasty, and cheap - a real bargain.

      The jerk chicken was usually overcooked, dry, and lacking much jerk flavour. You can try specifying it very spicy, but you may get real spicing or you may just get hot sauce. It usually seems reheated, or possibly even nuked. The pork may be better, though I don't eat it and don't know. The rice & peas and the slaw are edible.

      You're wasting your money if you order anything with shrimp. The "rasta pasta" has been mushy pap.

      You will likely find your meal okay, but the stands the Jerk sets up at various events usually serve better (probably because it's freshly cooked) food.

      Overall, the Mr Jerk franchises and places like Rap's have much better food.

      6 Replies
      1. re: embee

        I usually order chicken roti rather than jerk at the Real Jerk. I haven't been now for a few years, so I'm not sure how good the roti has been lately.

        A couple of my Jamaican friends dine at the Real Jerk fairly regularly, for what that's worth.

        Haven't really found a jerk I like in Toronto.

        1. re: phoenikia

          Roti it is! : ) Thanks phoenikia.

          1. re: Yum2MyTum

            Yum2MyTum- although I like the chicken roti better, it comes down to whether you want a drier dish- jerk chicken is a type of bbq chicken (forgive me anyone from the West Indies for simplifying it like this), whereas roti is a curry served wrapped in a roti skin ( a flatbread). If you like moist dishes with sauce, roti is they way to go, but if you like grilled/bbq chicken/ribs, go with the jerk :) If you like moister dishes with lots of sauce, I'd recommend going with roti or curry chicken.

            It's also possible to order a side of jerk chicken ($5), which would give you an idea what jerk chicken can be like, so you get an idea of whether you'd want to seek out a better version another time at another place. There's also several combos on the menu, if you want to try curry chicken and jerk (as well as other combos) at the same time, to figure out which suits you better.

            I also would recommend a side order of plantain (pronounced planten) :)


        2. re: embee

          Thank you embee for your helpful thoughts! I have lowered my expectations a bit and may go for roti instead of the jerk chicken/pork, in spite of my initial inclination to do the opposite (the place is called the Real Jerk, after all...)

          1. re: Yum2MyTum

            I haven't been there in awhile, but the jerk ribs were really good, much better than the jerk chicken.

          2. re: embee

            I agree with the entirety of embee's assessment. That said, I still sometimes end up at The Real Jerk. I am quite happy with my standard order:

            Curry Chicken w/ Rice&Peas
            Dumpling (fried, slightly sweet dough)

            The oxtail is alright as well and sometimes I switch it up for that.

          3. I've been twice and didn't love it either time. I had the jerk pork which was ALL fat and then the jerk chicken which lacked flavour. I got a couple of bites off the oxtail and found it more sweet than flavourful

            More details about my visit here:

            Jamaicans aren't known for roti but I would give the roti a try since it seems to be popular.

            Good luck!


            3 Replies
            1. re: wontonfm

              For some pretty good jerk and roti and oxtail (albeit leaning towards the sweet, but still good) somewhat in the area, I enjoy Tropical Joe's in Gerrard Square's food court. The goat roti and chicken roti are very tasty (ask for hot sauce) with a good meat/potato ratio. The jerk chicken has good flavour and the rice and peas are definitely above average.

              Yum2my tum, if you get into this kind of food, make sure you start asking for oxtail gravy (or curry gravy) on your rice and peas.

              I haven't tried Rap's, which sounds amazing due to grilling outdoors. However, as embee mentioned above, Mr. Jerk is also quite good. However, their pork is better than their chicken.

              1. re: grandgourmand

                We really like Tropical Joe's too. Exact same feelings about their food as in your comments + at food court prices.

                I've seen people coming in and hauling off 3-4 party trays at a time. Probably for church or picnic. Anyway, they've got a following.

                1. re: herbs go karts

                  Went for the first time today and thought the Jerk Chicken was excellent.
                  Took Oxtails home for the wife and they were very tasty too.


            2. When jerk chicken comes in breast form, you know it's less than authentic. Granted, it was bone-in and skin-on, but the Real Jerk is for novices. That's not a bad thing, but if you've had the real deal, it's a major disapointment.

              It's not bad for entry level jerk.

              1 Reply
              1. re: grandgourmand

                what places do you know of that have it in white meat... that is my favorite


              2. I've found the Potluck locations usually have white meat. Haven't really tried too many jerk chicken spots aside from the, but they're great for a standard order of white meat jerk chicken, rice and peas, great coleslaw, and of course, oxtail gravy over the rice. I find it's not crazy hot for my taste, though, but still good.