Have you ever wanted something different than your ho-hum lunch? How about diving into some island flavor at Jamaican Vibes on Government Street. This very humble shop with it's delightful owners is a very recent find for me and I am sure I will be back.
As I walk up to the counter, the owner, Noel, asked me if I like spicy or seasoned food. I promptly replied both but I like spicy more. It was explained later seasoned is for those who can't stand the heat, as if!
|Jerk Chicken w/yellow rice, cabbage and cornbread|
My brother and I decided to share the Oxtails and Jerk Chicken. Noah gets down to dishing up our food. He pulls out a whole chicken quarter that's been kept warm and chops it up. The chicken was doused in jerk sauce and served with my choice of yellow rice, cabbage and corn bread. There's plenty here to share. I was kinda of concerned when I saw that the chicken was in some sort of chafing dish but no worries. It was fall off the bone tender. You can still taste the sweetness of the chicken and jerk sauce was delicious. I didn't think it was very spicy though. The yellow rice was a little hard. I make yellow rice at home and it's nice and fluffy. These were not. The cabbage was a pleasant surprise. I didn't know what to expect but it was good. There's plenty of flavor but you can still tell you're eating cabbage. The cornbread was sweet and moist.
|Oxtails w/red beans and rice, mac and cheese and cornbread|
If you want a little bit of heaven in your mouth, you've got to try the stewed oxtails. I just can't describe it much better than stellar. The oxtails has been slowed cooked or braised to the point that the cartilage and meat are super tender. When you eat it, the meat has a very velvety mouth feel. The sauce is out of this world. It was ladled over the rice beans and rice. The oxtail and sauce really brought the rice and beans up a notch. The cornbread dipped into this sauce is also good. I personally didn't want to waste any bit of the sauce. The mac and cheese was good. It was also made in a huge batch and kept warm in a chafing dish. I thought that would dry it out but I was wrong. It kept it's moisture and cheesiness. No worries on that front either.
After we put in our orders, Noel asked what we wanted to drink and my brother replied something exotic...
These juices are what he came up with: Mango and Guava!! We laughed because hello, we're Asian. These flavors are normal, everyday for us.. but oh were we wrong. These juices are nothing like what we are used to. It's much thicker like nectar (as it says on the bottle) but still sweet. It was a refreshing change to the normal soda but at somewhere between $2.50 and $3 a pop it is a little on the expensive side.
|Jerk fish, dumplings and fried plantains|
My friend, Kat, ordered the jerk fish plate which consist red snapper, dumplings and fried plantains. She offered to let me taste so I can review it on my blog. The fish was simply baked and has a very light flavor. The jerk sauce gives it more of a punch but you can still taste the fish underneath all that sauce. I didn't care for the dumplings very much. It was more like a ball of dough and was very chewy. Not quite my cup of tea. The fried plantains were nice and sweet. I thought it was a lot more like fried bananas. I thought plantains were a starchier and bitter. The plantains could be your "dessert" if you choose.
Jamaican Vibes is a small locally owned and ran by a couple. On this day, Noel is the only one there. He was cooking, serving and cashiering. I thought the service was adequate considering he was a one man band. My friend's fish dish took the longest to come out and while she was waiting he offered her some soup. I don't think Kat liked it all that much but it was a nice gesture. We did encounter one problem. Kat's credit card was charged more than what the bill was for. My charge was correct. I'm not sure if she got that straighten out yet. I may just bring cash with me the next time just to be sure.
The restaurant is a relatively small place. There's about 7 four tops in the entire place. The walls are painted yellow, green and black and decorated with pictures of Bob Marley, President Obama and one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Reggae music is pumped through the stereo system and Noel's accent just adds to the charm. If you want something different, Jamaican Vibes is the way to go.
Click here for Jamaican Vibes website.