$1.xx house-made beef patty. We just all got New Yorked, witness:

That’s a Jamaican chef, rolling the pastry dough for the patty, in front of the customers, ready to go into the oven that’s on premise. How many Jamaican places are baking their own pastries? How many Jamaican places are there in LA? And of those, how many are even remotely edible?

This gem of a popular Manhattan snack is available in LA for less than $2. $2 for a fresh and heavily spiced beef patty (also avalable in chicken and vegetarian, cuz ya know the rastas are pretty health conscious)? Versus $1 for a crappy sugar filled Korean pancake? Is there any doubt Taste of the Islands offers the best snack of 2012? But it doesn’t end there — the cheffing team behind this joint, which took over a branch of Derrick’s Jamaican (one of the most frustrating Jamaican restaurants in town) Spring of 2012, is baking their own red velvet cakes and cinnamon rolls just for shits and giggles. Seriously, I mean, why? Will the USC students even understand the importance of having sorrel (with rum, natch) within a murderous walk to their beloved stadium? Only if s(he) is from Queens, and only the “right” parts of Queens.

It’s impossible to speak of Jamaican food without jerk, and beside being the nicest Jamaican restaurant owners I’ve ever met in Los Angeles (Wi Jammin, take note, you, and your patrons should be ashamed), they also make a righteous sauce. It needs a bit more scotch bonnet peppers, a bit more pimento berry, but behind People’s Choice, this is pretty decent stuff. The jerk chicken is grilled and carries great char, but lacks the tenderness and moisture of a drum smoked jerk so prevalent on any main city drag strip in MoBay. It’s good, not great, and obviously lacks the pimento wood smoke. But it’s affordable, and comes with a few pieces of properly done plantain, and some flavorful cabbage. Getting a bento box of jerk from Taste of the Islands sends me down two memory lanes simultaneously. One is the fascinating Jamaican food scene in Chicago south South side, and the absolute hedonism that prevails during a trip to Jamaica. Neither is duplicated at TotI, but you can get a huge box of curry goat for $11. How many people will have the beg the TotI team before they can produce some jerk pork? After all, that’s where the true BBQ skill lies, isn’t it?

Holler at me Jamaicans in Los Angeles (or Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Cambria folks from Jamaica stop, Queens, E train) I miss your rum punch and ginger wine so, so very much, and Taste of the Island’s menu is still far too concise.

Taste of The Islands
3027 S Hoover St
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Taste Of The Islands on Urbanspoon

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