Island Pearl on Kingsway and Sussex, Burnaby


Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

I don’t normally take lunch at work but instead snack throughout the day. I do once in a while. For the last few weeks, I had been going out with more frequency.

I wanted to inject some variety to what I had been eating. You know, I gravitate towards Asian food more than anything else. So this time, I went to the only Jamaican restaurant I know for lunch.

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Island Pearl is located on Kingsway, just across the road from Metrotown. I had a feeling that this used to be another eatery once before … am not completely sure.

Jamaica is one of those countries that really fascinates me. It’s a small country. Jamaica has a land mass of only 1/3 of our Vancouver Island. It also has a total population of only 2.5 million which is slightly more than Metro Vancouver’s population of 2.2 million.

And yet for this small island, it had tremendous impact on music and sports. Home of Bob Marley, Jamaica is where reggae originates from. In sports, they are known as the nation that produces world record holders of the sprint. Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell are both Jamaicans. Pretty amazing isn’t it?

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Island Pearl is a small eatery. There does not seems to be a lot of people who eat here each time I walk past. When I was there, I was the only customer.

Service was polite but slow. There is a certain laid back-ness to the people who work here.

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Island Pearl doubles up as a store for all things Jamaican. You could get all kinds of Jamaican ingredients and food stuff in the store. They even carry Jamaican DVDs. Oh … you could even get Bubble Tea here too. I find that kind of odd having a Jamaican restaurant selling Bubble Tea.

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I went ahead and try their Lunch Special. It was cheap — only $6.

I chose Goat Curry, the dish that is very Jamaican. Goat Curry is introduced by the small but influential Indian community in Jamaica but today is know more as a Jamaican cuisine than it is Indian.

The serving was small. The rice was not like what you get elsewhere (like Chinese or Greek) that is a massive mound of rice. Instead it was just like a scoop. But the rice is grainy and was flavourful. I have no idea what it is flavoured with but it was good.

The goat pieces were quite disappointingly few and small. The “curry” is more like gravy. Although flavorful, it is quite salty and not at all spicy.

Frankly, I was kind of disappointed with the food but then I understand that this is just a $6 Lunch Special.

I saw on the board that there are other (more expensive) dishes. Perhaps, yeah? Maybe those were better. So a week later, I went back to Pearl Island …

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This second round, it was a toss up between Ackee or Oxtail — both very popular Jamaican food. They recommended that I should try Oxtail and so Oxtail it was.

I would have thought that at $13, this would be a world of difference from the $6 Goat Curry Lunch Special. Instead, it looked pretty much the same. And it tasted pretty much the same but with different meat. The oxtail too was more bone than it was meat.

So, yeah, I was kind of disappointed.

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For drink, they recommended the Sof Drink Pineapple Ananas when I ask for something Jamaican. It is a carbonated drink with light pineapple flavour.

Does any one of you know of other Jamaican restaurants in town?

Island Pearl on Urbanspoon

15 thoughts on “Island Pearl on Kingsway and Sussex, Burnaby

  1. first off, cant compare Caribbean food in vancouver to toronto. toronto had better selection, quality, value and authenticity. and the most notable ‘canadian’ sprinters are all from jamaica.

    i’ve tried most if not all the the restaurants mentioned here and also kiss yo mama’. i am not a jamaican food expert, but the best jamaican food is home cooked. cooked with love; – soul food. you need volume to make this food fresh and delicious. hard to make small batches daily consistently. Most of this places are so quiet most of the time. the times i’ve been to some of this places i was the only customer there.

    dumplings, plantains, ackee with salt fish, peas and rice, curry goat, oxtail and jerk chicken. k, i’m hungry now.

  2. Jamaican and Trinidadian foods are definitely among the things I sometimes miss from previously living in Toronto. Each city in Canada has its own demographics, and is stronger and weaker in various cuisines. It’s true that Carribean cuisines are not one of Vancouver’s current strengths. It’s a trade-off. I was thinking about this recently after I had to explain what a “Jamaican patty” was to a friend. Hmm. I think maybe I’ll have to stock up on frozen patties next time I’m in Toronto! (Sort of like stocking up on Schwartz’s when in Montreal. :) )

  3. Being Jamaican, and hearing so much about diversity in Vancouver, I was surprised to come from Calgary to here and find so much less selection for Jamaican food than back in Alberta. The portions here, as well Riddim and Spice and the Jamaican Pizza Jerk are TINY compared to what you would get from any proper Jamaican restaurant–it’s almost insulting. The prices are also wildly inflated–in Calgary, you’d pay no more than $2.00 for a Jamaican Patty, and often much less, and a full meal would very, very rarely come to over ten dollars (keeping in mind it was often more than double the food). Worst of all, though, there seems to be a feeling here that “we’re making it for people who don’t know better, so who cares,” and there’s very little pride or effort put into the dishes.

    Island Pearl has potential–they even went as far as to bring in a Chef from outside Vancouver–but the prices are still too high, the portions to small, and the food is… good, but not nearly where it needs to be. But DEFINITELY worlds better than Riddim and Spice or the Reef.

  4. There was this study done that the main reason people don’t go back to restaurant was because of awful and SLOW service.

  5. Jamaica Pizza Jerk on Commercial is the best Jamaican Restaurant in Vancouver. Service may be a bit slow, but it is more than worth the wait.

  6. In mentioning Jamaican athletes, don’t forget the Jamaican Bobsled team, forever immortalized in the movie “Cool Runnings”! The rice is actually called “rice and peas”…seasoned traditionally with ham hocks. Delish!

  7. Yes. It was parfait a pia. Same decor and it was 2 guys who ran it. One was Asian and the other seemed to be Jamaican. Desserts and bubble tea were what I remember from there. I wonder if it is the same owner/s? Too bad the food wasn’t what you hoped for.

  8. Sorry to hear the disappointment, Ben.

    You know I walk by this area frequently. And while 2-3 times my curiosity was piqued by Island Pearl, I never got that good vibe to go in and stay (the first time I did go in to look at the menu). Maybe because the proprietor wasn’t overly warm nor welcoming, or that the place is completely empty each time I walk by there during the height of lunch hour. You’d think a good place would catch on quick just by word of mouth.

    Sooooo …… have you eaten at Yakko yet ? Shall we set a lunch appointment ?

    • Thanks TS for the Jamaican restaurant links. From the reviews I just read, Riddim&Spice and Jerk Pizza seems to offer much better food than Island Pearl. We are definitely checking them out one of these days!

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