Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Taste of the Caribbean

You know the problem. You’ve spent all morning walking around a mall and it’s time for lunch. Your options are pretty much the same in just about every mall. Chains. Boring. Fortunately for us here in the GTA, in some of the B or C grade malls you’ll find a small, Caribbean franchise named Tropical Joe’s. While they have a couple other locations the only one I’ve been to is at Gerrard Square. The tiny mall in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood anchored by Home Depot.

20120725_111406 A few years ago I was on a bit of a Jerk Chicken kick. I'd tried about a half dozen places and while all were really good to fabulous, none were as good as the Jamaican lady's who worked the cafeteria at my work. One day I was talking to a fellow toiler and asked him where he got his fix. Being from Jamaica himself and all. I was stunned when he pointed me to a mall but I'm glad he did. This particular location, by pretty much all accounts, is the best.

So let’s have a look at these spicy tastes of the islands.

073The Jerk Chicken was the first thing I sampled from here and wasn’t sure about the Chow Mein noodles. I opted for a combination of noodles and rice. Skipping the veggies. The rice is good, don’t get me wrong. Made with coconut milk and pigeon peas it was as it should be. The noodles on the other hand, made sort of pilaf style, were so much better. I’m a big fan of pasta and I guess these are close enough. They stood up nicely to the heat and juiciness of the chicken. Speaking of the chicken, the spicing was nice. Not overly hot but as you can see, if you like it a little livelier you can add hot sauce. The bird was nice and juicy which added oomph to the gravy.

074Ox Tails, for those who don’t know, are the tail of a cow. As a young lad I didn’t want to try them. For some reason the name is rather off putting for people. Rest assured though,these are all cow. These ones are nice and rich. A sweet and sour sauce that’s little spicy but not much but with a big, well rounded flavour. They’re some of the meatier pieces you’ll find. At least, in this order they were. They matched perfectly with the noodles. The veggies, basted in the gravy were quite good too.

045The Stew Chicken is amazing. Chopped bits of chicken in a sort of sweet and sour curry (different from the ox tail gravy) fortified with some onions. It’s also rather peppery. Not spicy though it does have a slight tingle but more just tasting of pepper. The chicken managed to stay moist even during stewing which is a huge plus. As you can probably tell I’ve landed completely in the Chow Mein noodle camp by this point.

You can find Tropical Joe’s in some Toronto area food courts but this particular, and probably best one is in Gerrard Square at 1000 Gerrard Street E. Toronto, On.

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Tropical Joe's on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.


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