Battle of The Jerk

The Single Serve Series features recipes for one with leftovers or enough for 2!

In Jamaica, jerk chicken is exceptionally tasty street food. Traditionally, it’s cooked marinated in a melange of spices that include allspice, pepper and thyme, then grilled over coal in a steel drum. Before you know it, you’ll be eating this juicy meat usually with a nice piece of hard dough bread. In a restaurant, it’s usually paired with rice and peas plus a side of coleslaw.

I’m still reminiscing about my trip last February when I was in Jamaica for a vacation. I must have had jerk at least 5 times. On returning home, I wanted to relive the great memories I made there through food. In Toronto there are so many places to have jerk chicken but how do you go about finding one that you really like? Trial and error is the way so here is my jerk chicken journey. Since we currently are in lockdown, my choices were limited to takeout and delivery within my area (downtown Toronto). I’m sure I’ve missed the opportunity to try a lot of other great places further away. I also wanted to give you a realistic look so I took photos of the food as they arrived (no food styling). Here is a list of what I ordered that feeds one person.

Allwyn’s Bakery on Queen West- $8.95

  • Boneless dark meat (thigh)
  • Includes rice & peas and coleslaw
  • Includes oxtail gravy*
  • Add-on fried plantain for $4.95 (6 pieces)

This is a good meat to rice ratio. The chicken is well seasoned, has that nice smoky flavour and is quite tender and juicy. Would I order this again? Absolutely!

Chubby’s Jamaican – Portland St. – $14

  • Quarter chicken, bone-in dark meat (leg and thigh) $14
  • Can up-size to half chicken for $19 or full for $37
  • Includes coleslaw
  • Add-on rice & peas or jasmine rice for $5
  • Add-on oxtail gravy $3 *
  • Add-on fried plantain for $7

The chicken was seasoned nicely and had a great flavour but it wasn’t as tender as I has hoped. I do take issue with the fact that rice is extra. Shouldn’t that be included? I love plantain and always pair it with my meal but $7?? If you went to the store to buy a plantain to fry at home, it would cost you about $1 to get 6-8 pieces . The markup seems exorbitant. But I love fried plantain with my jerk chicken so I ate the cost. Would I order this again? Probably not.

Patois – Dundas St West – $18

  • Bone-in white and dark meat (leg, thigh, breast)
  • Can up-size to a double portion for $24
  • Includes rice and peas and choice of coleslaw or potato salad. Trini mac pie is an add-on for $3
  • Includes small container of garlic sauce
  • Add-on oxtail gravy for $2.25 (contains oyster sauce)*
  • No fried plantain available

I love the fact that you get dark and white meat that’s very tender and juicy! The portion is more of a one and a half but It doesn’t have the traditional smokiness. I enjoyed the potato salad since I’m not a fan of coleslaw. Would I order this again? I’m torn. I really enjoyed the chicken but I’m irked at the cost and having to pay extra for oxtail gravy. Even if I wanted to try it, I can’t. I’m allergic to shellfish. Yes, there is garlic sauce but that’s just too fusion for me. And no plantain. Would I order this again? I think you know the answer.

Rasta Pasta – Kensington Market – $7

  • Bone-in dark meat (leg and thigh)
  • Can up-size to medium ($9) or large ($11)
  • Includes rice and peas
  • Includes jerk gravy or oxtail gravy*
  • Add-on fried plantain for $2 (4 pieces)

This is true yard food! You get the smokiness, tender meat and the price is right! I even got some sweet fried plantain plus gravy on my rice. When you keep it simple, you get repeat customers. It’s a one stop shop! Would I order this again? Absolutely!

Roywoods Fort York Blvd – $11

  • Boneless dark meat (thigh)
  • Includes rice & peas and coleslaw
  • Includes oxtail gravy *
  • Add-on fried plantain for $4.50 (7 pieces)

I like the boneless meat and the bonus piece of jerk pork (lol). The jerk seasoning was good and meat was tender. There seemed to be a lot more rice to match with the meat. Would I order this again? In a pinch I guess but there are other options I prefer.

The Real Jerk – Gerrard St. – $12.50

  • Bone-in dark meat (leg and thigh). Extra 0.50 for white meat
  • Can up-size to 1/2 chicken for $17
  • Includes choice of rice & peas or plain rice
  • Includes oxtail gravy*
  • Includes choice of garden salad or coleslaw
  • Add on fried plantain for $3.00

I thought this meal was just okay. The chicken needed a little more jerk spice. The gravy was meh. I liked that I could have a garden salad instead of coleslaw and the plantain was a little tough on the inside. Would I order this again? Probably not.

*Let me explain why I made a note abour oxtail gravy. In most West Indian restaurants if you’re making jerk chicken, you’re also making stewed oxtail. I’m a Canadian – born and raised – but having Jamaican parents means I eat Jamaican food. REGULARLY. Every restaurant listed here, makes oxtail as one of their dishes. I understand that “giving away” gravy meant for another dish results in less of the item but the cost for a spoonful is too much. No one needs a container of gravy for a single meal. Yes, I’m old school. Don’t even get me started at the cost of oxtail. Make oxtail cheap again! Lol

When we are able to move about freely, I plan to expand my search. Let me know in the comments some other great places I should be trying jerk chicken.

10 Comments

    1. There are many Jamaican restaurants in the city and I started with these ones but plan on trying more. Ritz will be my next review. Is Ritz your favourite?

  1. Great review. I’m a Rasta Pasta die hard. Very interesting who his competition is. Love your breakdown of the Oxtail gravy. Cheers ND

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