(CNS Foodie): Jerk chicken is one of those foods that elicits strong feelings among those who love it. With that in mind and admittedly one of those people, I made my way to Di Kit-Chin. The restaurant sits at the corner of Mangrove Avenue and Shamrock Road, right before the East-West Arterial roundabout. Even though the restaurant has a well-paved parking lot, the first thing I noticed on a busy Saturday afternoon was that a lot of people tended to park on the side and off the road.
Walking towards the open-air establishment, you are greeted by the jerk pits that are covered and enclosed by mesh so you can see the meat being roasted.
In addition to standard jerk on offer, another menu listing the daily specials is written on a chalk board; the day I was there, choices included curry or BBQ chicken, oxtail and escovitch mahi mahi. I decided to order a small jerk combo (chicken and pork) with festival for $10. I could have chosen bread, but opted without hesitation for the sweet fried dumpling.
I also was enticed by the drinks menu that was displayed where you order your food. I chose the tamarind ($2) over the lemonade or fruit punch, and added a side as well; it was an extra $2 for either roasted sweet potato or roast corn. I decided on the corn, a traditional Jamaican favourite. My bill totalled a reasonable $14, with no gratuity added, and the restaurant also accepted credit cards.
The food was served quickly, within about five minutes. I was offered hot or mild sauce and I went with the mild. The place was starting to fill with people and I sat down at the open porch on one of the two elongated picnic benches, available for eating or waiting, with a couple that was also enjoying a late lunch. It is fairly standard procedure to share a table there since there is not much seating, but the atmosphere is very conducive to socialising. We all agreed we appreciated that Di Kit-Chin boasted a nice building and was not simply an open-air stand.
When I opened my takeaway box, I was greeted by a good mix of jerk pork and chicken, with the festival served in a separate paper bag. The pork was tender and juicy, and the chicken was done well, but both were lightly seasoned, leaving the meats tasting plain even though they were jerked. I couldn’t taste the distinct jerk seasoning and felt it could use more jerk rub and soaking in the marinade. I enjoy tasting the pimento, allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, scallions, fresh thyme and all the other herbs that make jerk such a delight to eat.
As I said, the meat was well cooked but not burnt and had a decent layer of crispy brown from the fire pits. I was a bit disappointed, though, because I felt it lacked the authenticity of deep-rooted Jamaican jerk.
The saviour of the day was the sauce that really brought out the flavour. It wasn’t an overburden of spice but a well-seasoned blend. A child could easily handle the heat in this dish, which also contained enough food to satisfy two people.
The festival was long, girthy, bright golden brown, sweet and made to perfection – crispy on the outside and dense but soft on the inside. Initially my roast corn was forgotten with my order, but they fixed that easily. Now I never understood the hype surrounding roast corn. And I honestly thought it would be served with a side of butter as with traditional American BBQ. But, when I bit into the corn, I found it sweet and very juicy; the corn was roasted and served in aluminium foil. It was delicious and by far was my favourite part of the meal. The tamarind juice was not strongly flavoured but was also not too sweet and I found it refreshing.
Overall, the food was tasty, the service quick and the staff pleasant. The jerk could use a bit more attention to the rub and seasoning but the amazing sides boosted the rating. I look forward to returning to Di Kit-Chin to try the jerk chicken breast, oxtail and jerk sausage.