Cookshop Review-Doreen’s in Regal Plaza

Doreen’s is a popular year to year cookshop in Regal Plaza near Cross Roads.  I have often passed it when I do business in that area but have never been hungry at the time. However, based on numerous recommendations from my twitter family, I decided that it definitely deserved a try.

It’s a very popular spot, which is generally a good sign. A full Jamaican lunch and breakfast menu is on display in a crowded space which can accommodate probably 20 in-restaurant diners.

I recommend take out. It’s hot in there and you aren’t going for the ambiance because there is none. I was there at prime lunch hour so there was quite a crowd. Interestingly, they were all patient and most were regulars who were familiar with the staff and the different non-menu combinations that could be ordered.

I stuck to the two basics lunch staples that I generally use to evaluate most local cookshops.

Curry Goat and Fried Chicken.

The fried chicken was really, really on point. Nicely battered, well seasoned, perfectly golden fried.

I got rice and peas and a piece of yam and a little greens. they offer other “food” selections with meals so be sure to ask them what they have for the day. The rice and peas was seasoned properly and full of coconut milk flavour. Proper, Proper Sunday rice and peas.

The goat was good. Not great, but it could hold its own. The white rice was a little wetty wetty and not shelly as how I personally like it. A decent serving size for the price is a definite win. Also the goat was spicy and hot. It tasted freshly cooked and not like it was microwaved up from the day before or from the morning. Only real problem for me was that the goat was cut up a bit too fine and plenty bone was in it. But truthfully, I’ve had worse goat and paid far more for it.

Doreen’s is definitely going to be on my list of spots to grab a road meal from now on. The parking in Regal Plaza is a little difficult at prime times, but you will find one eventually. The place itself has a real grassroots Jamaican energy. Like it’s your auntie and her daughters doing the cooking.

I like it. Check it out and let me know.

Ambience-LOL

Taste-A minus

Presentation-B

Service-B+

Price-A

Overall Experience-B+

 

 

 

Jamaican Restaurant Review-Triple Tz

Triple Tz Restaurant at 1 Annette Crescent has become one of the top lunch spots around town.
It has a full range of standard  Jamaican lunchtime fare in addition to a few items not typically found in the regular cookshop.
It has comfortable covered seating and a full service bar. Fans are scattered throughout the dining area and do a respectable job at keeping the environment cool.
I have been twice for lunch in the last 2 months and both times the experience was pleasant.
The wait staff is affable and efficient. They are neatly dressed, knowledgeable about the daily menu items, smile pleasantly and most importantly they are generally attentive and quick.
On one visit I ordered a standard a lunch staple, fried chicken with rice and peas with a little oxtail gravy. The other person in my party ordered curried goat and white rice.
Both were proper. The chicken more so. It was perfectly seasoned and golden fried to perfection. The oxtail gravy was plentiful and flavorful. A small green salad was included on the plate and was very fresh.
The curried goat was fine but needed a bit more pepper and seasonings for my taste. It was imported mutton. You can tell as it didn’t have the heavy ram goat flavour that some of us love. But such is life, local rammy meat is not very common anymore at most restaurants or cookshops.
The portion was also a bit moderate considering the price was possibly twice as much as a regular garrison curried goat lunch. All in all it was a proper meal and equally nice were the fresh lemonade and June Plum juice which we had to accompany it.

On my next visit I ordered the lamb chops and my party ordered the steamed fish.
I asked before what type of fish they had and they said it was snapper fillets. The waitress upon questioning said that they were the frozen ones sold in bulk.
If you are a fresh fish lover, ask what fish they are using for the day first before ordering.
Don’t do it if they say the fillets. Long frozen fish has a particular texture that no amount of cooking and seasoning can make right. We are blessed to be surrounded by water and have many restaurants serving fresh caught seafood. Suffice to say, despite me warning my date, the fish was ordered and though not bad tasting , left a bit to be desired if you are a proper fish lover.

The lamb however was tender and done kind of “stewish grilled”. I never quite got around to asking the waitress how it was actually cooked, but it was juicy and not chewy as lamb tends to be at times. Served with a small side of fresh vegetables, the portion was decent sized for lamb in Jamaica but if you are hungry, it is moreish for real.
The rice and peas was once again very good, with the fruit juices fresh and variety abundant.

Triple Tz is a nice spot. It’s more expensive than a take out cookshop and that is to be expected. It’s not unreasonably priced. For 2 people with a flask of rum and chaser, 3 grand supposed to can cover yu ting. It’s a very popular spot for lunch meetings with many of the New Kingston and uptown crowd coming there regularly.
Soooo, if it’s a one away move you deh pon, Triple Tz is not the place. You will run into people you know.
All in all it’s a good non-pretentious local restaurant to visit and have a comfortable Jamaican home style lunch.
Check it out if you haven’t before.

Ambience-B+

Taste-A

Presentation-B+

Service-B+

Price-B

Overall Experience B+

 

P.S. Pardon the shitty pictures. I will get this right in a second…

 

 

Jamaican Restaurant Review – 4U -The Pho Was Faux

The Jamaican culinary landscape continues to expand with the arrival of the first ever Vietnamese restaurant in Kingston.

4U is located in Manor Center on the lower floor near the former NCB location. Many Vietnamese restaurants throughout North America all seem to be located in rather nondescript strip malls, and 4U fits in perfectly with this aesthetic.

 

The decor is adequate with Vietnamese style murals and some eclectic wall and lighting fixtures. It seats approximately 30, however 5 or so of the tables are low Asian style seating that may turn off some customers.

 

 

There is also a rather oddly placed green astroturf area that is intended to facilitate cushion seating on the ground. That may  present some difficulty if you have a Mom like mine to take out for lunch one afternoon. The actual proper chairs are of an office variety and not the most comfortable, but perhaps the intent is to have people eat quickly and leave soon so as to maximize the limited seating.

I went to 4U on the second day of its opening, the service was great. Attentive informed staff, clean restroom and fairly quick food delivery.  The menu is very moderately priced, however small and somewhat limited. The spring roll appetizer has pork and a vegetarian or chicken option wasn’t available.Sticking to Vietnamese staples that I had eaten before on many occassions, I ordered the Beef Banh Mi (a sandwich on a french baguette) and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee and my date decided on the Chicken Pho(a traditional broth with noodles and chicken) and a Strawberry Iced Tea.  Both were served in short order, within 15 minutes.

The Banh was wonderfully prepared on a freshly baked bun. The beef was tender and seasoned with the perfect amount of fish sauce and chilli. The lettuce was crispy, as were the shredded carrots and cucumbers. 4U probably also wins and makes history as being the first restaurant in Jamaica to have Sriracha on it tables.   What was lacking however were the typical condiments which are served with such sandwiches. A few pieces of lime, chilli paste, cilantro and some chopped green chilli peppers are the standard fare as far as accompaniments for both Banh and Pho in all the Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve been. I requested lime and cilantro and both were forthcoming even if in grudging quantities. All in all, the Bahn was good, not great but good. My iced coffee was also up to par and made for a good pairing with the sandwich.

The Pho however left quite a bit to be desired. The broth was bland and slightly salty. The bowl had a fair portion of chicken, but was inundated with whole stalks of boiled scallion as opposed chopped offerings in the bowl or on the side. Cilantro was noticeably absent, and once again, no lime and no bean sprouts which are typical inclusions.  Most disturbing however was the use of what seemed like fettucini as opposed to rice noodles. The noodles were of a completely different texture than what is generally used in Pho. It was Faux Pho. The strawberry iced tea was also a poor choice off the menu.  It was merely a kool-aid tasting concoction with an artificial aftertaste. Don’t try it. Trust me.

4U is definitely worth a visit. The price is the major selling point with meals being around $800-$1100. If you have never experienced Vietnamese cuisine before, it especially warrants a visit. Hopefully they will be able to get a regular supply of authentic ingredients and improve on the authenticity of some of the dishes.

Ambience-B

Taste -B minus

Presentation -B

Service -B plus

Price -A

Overall -B