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 … (more…)

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Seattle Spring 2009: Pam’s Kitchen

Updated: 17th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

As much as we had always wanted to make a visit to Pam’s Kitchen, for various reasons we had not. Pam’s Kitchen had always been on our list of to-visit places in Seattle. This time we made it a point to make Pam’s Kitchen our priority.

Pam’s Kitchen is known for their Rotis from Trinidad and Tobago.

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Pam’s Kitchen is located in the intersection of University Way and NE 50 Street in Seattle. Along this row are actually a lot of hole-in-the-wall type of eateries of almost every major cuisine. We counted among others Filipino, Chinese, Greek, Hawaiian, Japanese, East Indian, Pizzas. All of them looked very good from the outside.

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Walking into Pams’ Kitchen, there were an unmistaken (and somewhat overpowering) aroma of spices and curry. Service was very quick and friendly. They gave us two tall glass of water the moment we got settled. The place was not very big and we can see around us that their customers looked like students mainly. Definitely no families here that night.

Strangely, we noticed a rather prominent sign hung from the ceiling that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. We wondered what that sign was all about and if they have rather rowdy customers here before.

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They have rather unique drinks. Suanne had the Peanut Punch (Milk Base) which costs $3.75. This is not like anything we ever drank before. It tastes like watered down peanut drink with milk. It actually tastes like peanut butter. Am thinking that perhaps one could make this by blending a few spoonful of peanut better with milk. We like this.

For me, I had the Sorrel which is described as Caribbean Hibiscus Petals, spiced boiled and sugar sweetened. It has an obvious floral taste and smell to it. It is also kind of like chai tea with herbs and spices. We find the taste quite unique and yet familiar. Although it is described as sweetened, it is also a bit sourish. $3.50.

The drinks were a great start to the main meal.

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When in Pam’s Kitchen, one just have to have Roti. There are two main selections you need to make when ordering Rotis:

  • Decide on the meat: Chicken ($10.50), Beef ($11.50), Lamb ($13.50) or Goat ($13.50)
  • Decide on either Paratha or Dahlpuri.

Suanne chosed the combination of lamb and paratha. The lamb was spicy but not very hot. Meat was tender to the bite. It was very well made and flushed with flavour. The drawback was that it was rather dry’ish and that we wished they had more curry sauce to dunk the roti with. We also liked the mash potato and chick pea server on the side … it looked deceptively mild but was spicy hot. Nice.

I read from the menu saying that they hand wash all the meats thoroughly with lemon juice.

(more…)

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Seattle: Paseo Caribbean

Updated: 31st Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

One of the must-visit places that I had on my list was Paseo. I did some brief research before the vacation and found that everyone is raving about this place. I could hardly find anyone that had anything negative at all despite the various shortcomings like parking, tables, etc. As a matter of fact, everything is bad except for the food. The food is so good that everyone overlook these shortcomings.

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Locating the place was difficult. We have an address but Paseo did not have a sign in the store front at all. There is not even a number posted on it. We took a couple of drive up and down the road and each time the GPS announced “you have arrived”, we looked around and did not see any restaurant at all.

Paseo, after all, is just a shack. We had not expected that.

Paseo is sometimes described as a Cuban and at times a Caribbean restaurant.

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We only found this place after the third day. When we first came by at night, we could not locate the place and left. On the next night when we finally figured out the location (by counting address numbers!), we found out to our chagrin that it was closed. Paseo closes on Sundays and Mondays.

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The place is a shack alright, not quite what we expected. He he he … it is certainly not what one would call a family restaurant. We felt kind of out of place here.

The place is so small that they had only six very tiny tables in the entire place. Also, if there is a queue, the queue will snake out of the outlet even if there are 6 people in line.

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They accept cash only, so be forewarned. After all, this place is a no frills place. All they care about is good food.

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The first order was their Cuban Roll Sandwich. (more…)

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