Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >
Jun 14, 2010 04:44 PM

Island Spice - Jamaican in Long Branch

Have been looking for some good local Jerk Chicken since Blue Marlin in Bradley Beach closed half a dozen years ago. I've found it! A friend discovered this place and recommended the jerk, even though she said it was a "bit too hot." So I tried it tonight.

Got the small portion of Jerk Chicken ($8) which comes with 3 sides (I got sauteed cabbage, rice & beans and plantains). The Chicken is served on the bone, with the skin on, as it should be. There was a distinct flavor of scotch bonnet peppers and other spices. The lady serving me offered to give me extra gravy or jerk sauce over the rice, but I declined for this first meal but will take her up on it next time. Nice Spice!

There was almost too much rice and beans, and there could have been more than the 2 slices of plantain, but it was the jerk I was after, and I was not disappointed. The sauteed cabbage was done just right. I also got a few of the beef patties, which were also very good. Saved a couple for lunch.

An interesting aside: The woman serving me was a good friend of Roy Reid, the owner of the former Blue Marlin! The couple tables and chairs in the tiny dining area were from Blue Marlin. Roy is doing well doing catering down in the Atlanta area.

Island Spice is pretty much hidden on the corner of a little side street a block off of Broadway. as a tiny little take out place they could be the Jamaican version of North of the Border in Red Bank. For the great food they are serving they definitely deserve support.


North of the Border
176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: equal_Mark

      Really missed Jamician foods. Unfortunately, it is a bit too far for me. Nevertheless, thanks for the information.

      Just read the menu. Many of the dishes are the same I remember. Jerk chicken, oxtail, curry chicken, curry goat.... Hey, but there is no jerk pork, which is one of my favorest. Maybe it is not tradtiaionl, don't know.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        There is also Taste of Jamaica in Neptune City. I had their jerk wings at the spring flea market in Ocean Grove a few weeks ago.. quite tasty.

        1. re: MarlboroMan


          Thanks. I should have been more clear. I live close to Trenton, so both Mark's and your places are more than an hour drive. I will try one of the two places when I have a chance. I think I just have to get off my butt and look around. There got to be something in Philadephia for that. It is a city afterall. Thanks for your suggestion

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Doing a search for "jamaican food philadelphia", I got 3 immediate results for Caribbean restaurants in Philadelphia. Google is your friend. :)

            1. re: MarlboroMan

              :) Yes, but are they good. Anyway, you are right. I just need to get my butt off and try them, even if they may not be great. Thanks.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              when i was a student at Penn, i saw a Jerk Chicken food truck at market st. train station. never tried it, but just saying.

              1. re: yCf

                Hmm, thanks. I go to the Market Street Train station relatively often (once every two weeks) because it is so close to the Reading Station and China town. I will pay closer attention. Thanks.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  actually, i was thinking about the 30th street station (where the Amtrak is and Drexel Campus). Sorry about the confusion.

              1. re: bgut1

                Ja Rock is now closed also..too bad it was a nice place with very good food.

              2. re: MarlboroMan

                Wow I never knew about Taste of Jamaica...I must check it out!

          2. eMark, it's good to see fellow NJ hounders who love the Jerk....

            I've eaten here a couple times when they first opened and was underwhelmed each time. Their jerk chicken was more of a stew than a grilled preparation, and I felt like there wasn't enough food for the $ I was paying. Since then I've gone back to Castaways in Asbury for my Caribbean fix.

            Based on your report I'm gonna give this place another try..I hope it's better this time!

            Also right across the street is one of my favorite Mexican joints in LB... Oaxaqueno II. Good stuff there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: joonjoon

              Jerk chicken was not at all "stew like." Seasoning was crusted on pretty well. Will have to ask about their cooking method next time I go (as well as ask about the "pork challenged" menu.

              Will look into Oaxaqueno. Always in the market for another good Mexican joint...

              1. re: equal_Mark

                Nice, I drove by yesterday and saw a lunch special sign posted...i think i'll be having me some jerk for lunch today!

            2. Thank you for mentioning this place. I have seen this place before but thought it was closed. I stumbled upon this site and saw you guys were talking about, so i decided to try it out for lunch. I got the oxtail because i have never had it before and thought it was great. Another person I went with got the curried chicken and she loved it. So much that she brought some home to let her husband have a taste. Another guy i went with wanted to get the curried goat but they didnt have it, for some reason. So he got the brown chicken stew and really liked it.

              I took a pic of my food, but that was only after i ate most of the oxtail. They did give a lot of rice, but it was okay because oxtail is mostly bone, so that was nice filler.

              I also took a pic of the inside and the outside, to show my wife.

              1. Island Spice is now closed and business is for sale. I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd drive by to see if they were still around. Sadly, it's no longer open.

                Island Spice
                333 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305

                8 Replies
                1. re: wench31

                  Sadly their food was mediocre and overpriced. Much better food for less money at Castaways and Islander in Asbury.

                  1. re: joonjoon

                    I've yet to find anyplace in the area that could compete with Blue Marlin in Bradley Beach. I still miss Roy and family...

                    1. re: equal_Mark

                      Is that the sit-down place that was on main st? I've only been there once but IMO castaways is better...for some reason jamaican food tastes better when i get it at hole-in-the-walls. :)

                      1. re: joonjoon

                        Yeah, it's where D&L BBQ is now. I can never seem to get jerk pork spicy enough at Castaways or Islander. Roy Reid from Blue Marlin used to grow his own Scotch Bonnet peppers at a farm he contracted with out in Freehold. He could easily crank up the heat level on request while maintaining great flavor.

                        I did take issue with his jerk chicken after his bowing to the wishes of PC yuppies he switched from bone-in chicken parts with skin to boneless skinless breasts. They subsequently dried out and the seasoning would fall off while being grilled.

                        Loved his Curried Shrimp Roti and Conch Fritters too...

                        This is from like 1998:

                  2. re: wench31

                    I just want to say that I still haven't tried Jamacian foods after leaving the state of Georgia. I need to remind myself more often.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Chemicalkinetics, you live close to Trenton? You must try the Hummingbird on Warren Street in Trenton for awesome Jamaican food. They are only open till 8pm on weekdays, closed on weekends. You can eat in but it's best for takeout. I've had the jerk chicken, curry chicken, oxtail, curry goat, meat patties, slaw, cabbage, festival... all delicious. They don't have a web site but you can find a menu online or on facebook. They tend to run out of stuff toward dinner time on Fridays, so earlier in the week is better -- or call ahead.

                      1. re: sadiefox


                        Sorry about the late reply. I don't know why I missed this message. Yes, I live close to Trenton. I have not tried Hummingbird Restaurant (901 Pennington Avenue, Trenton, NJ) , but I have tried Sunshine Restaurant. I thought Sunshine was good, but I only tried the jerk chicken. I will give Hummingbird a try. Thanks for your suggestion.

                        1. re: sadiefox

                          I know this is a late reply, but better late than never. I've just tried Hummingbird on New Year eve with its oxtail dish. It was indeed very good. I like it. Thanks.

                    2. Looks like the place has reopened. Will have to stop by and see if it is anything more than just a convenience store. Picture taken this afternoon (see the snow?)... :-)

                      1 Reply