Ackee Bamboo Jamaican Cuisine...it doesn't get much more authentic plus a Reggae Night gift
4305 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
I have a special treat for one reader today... read to the end to find out.
Not enough people in LA eat food from different cultures. And no, Mexican does not count, as Los Angeles could partially be called little Mexico as whole. I'm talking about other regions past a two hour drive South from here. Cuisines like Ethiopian, German, or even today's choice spot, Ackee Bamboo which is Jamaican cuisine that's as authentic as you can find it.
Ackee is located in one of the most prized, historically cultured areas of LA, Leimert Park. Leimert has been a hotbed for Los Angeles Jazz and Black culture for decades. What many people don't know is that Jazz is one of the only original American art forms. That said, this area has a lot of history with greats that have gone through here and and a lot to do with how they help to keep it alive. Not to mention, this strong black community thrives and is in a constant state of creation for all things involving their culture. It really is one of the beautiful charms of Los Angeles.
The restaurant is named after the national Jamaican fruit called Ackee that comes from a type of Evergreen tree. It is this fruit that is a main staple in many traditional Jamaican recipes. Knowing this, when we ordered, we made sure to grab their Ackee and Salt Fish. We also grabbed a couple of their patties (one beef and one chicken) as well as their Jamaican Jerk chicken.
The patties are basically the Jamaican version of Spanish style empanadas. Both hinted at being on the spicy side, but not anything to remotely worry about. The patties are simple little dough pockets that are filled with ground beef and in this case, or chicken. The spice seemed like it came from a pinch of cayenne. While these weren't the best patties I've had, they were fantastic all the same, and at $1.85 per you really can't lose.
As I mentioned, we had to grab a plate that had some Ackee in it. I was so incredibly thankful that I did. If you didn't look at the link up above, notice here what Ackee looks like fresh from the tree. When cooked it has the consistency of tofu or fried egg whites. When our plates arrived the first thing we noticed was "Wow...that's a lot of food." The ackee and salt fish was smooth and rich with flavors of onion and the subtle flavors of mushroom from the ackee. The salt fish (a type of cod) was great to have again as I haven't had it in years. Also a big plus, sometimes salt fish can be a little too salty if it's not only lightly salted to begin with or boiled long enough to get some of the salt off. Judging by how tender the salt fish was, my guess is that it was boiled. It came with fried plantains that were sweet and fried to perfection with just a little bit crispness to give it that candy like consistency. It also came with what appeared to be a large corn bread hush puppy, steamed veggies(mostly cabbage) and rice and peas. The corn bread was an awesome little treat as it had a hearty consistency not typical of corn bread, it was more like corn cake that was dense in mass, reminded me a bit of a corn version of one of those really crusty doughnuts. The rice and peas were great, in fact I'd almost ask for twice the amount of rice and skip the veggies. Then again veggies aren't my forte, but my wife Celeste loved them!
Celeste's jerk chicken came with all the same sides. What made all her food slightly different, was the juices from the jerk chicken soaked into it all just a little bit. She dipped her corn bread in it and everything. The jerk chicken itself, she said, was the best she's ever had. It was very flavorfully spiced, but not too hot, and wouldn't be even for someone with a lower threshold for heat than her. I'm sure there was black pepper, cayenne, allspice and a sweeter spice like clove or nutmeg, but what came through was a flavor that tasted whole with no separation of flavor. It was succulent fall off the bone chicken that must have been cooked at a low temperature for several hours. Another plus, for Celeste the portions were so large that she ate half and had an awesome lunch for herself the next day.
The restaurant is a small abode that holds maybe 20 people or so on the inside. What is wonderful about this place besides the food is the wonderful service. We came in and after we ordered the owner (or maybe the manager) was chatting with us about the food and the drinks (we got Jamaican Cream soda made by DG) and was just as charming and sweet as you could want an owner to be. He was always available if you wanted to chat as well as handling business effectively at the same time. They have quite a history with only being about a year and a half old. Within 3 months of opening, they already had their first writeup in the LA Times! Quite a feat, cause LA Times doesn't really give honors to many restaurants as the standards they place on businesses are pretty heavy. I cannot say enough good things about Ackee except that you should make the trip over there if you haven't already.
Free Drink Refills: No
Entree Price Range: $7 to $18 (let me clarify and say that there are only a few dishes that are on the high end of the spectrum)
AND NOW THE GIFT TO ONE LUCKY READER:
In honor of the Jamaican inspired post I've been chosen to sponsor as one of the lucky bloggers to be able to give away 1 pair of tickets to the August 12 Reggae Night concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The lineup is one for the books! The program reads:
Reggae's grandmaster Burning Spear returns, plus reggae drum and bass pioneers, Sly & Robbie with the distinctive vocals of Horace Andy (last heard with Massive Attack). The Wailing Souls reunite after a 22-year absence. It's a roots, rockin' night not to be missed!
The show is already sold out for many of the sections and this promises to be a killer night of sweet music. So how do you win? All you have to do is be the first person to email me your two favorite Jamaican spots in Los Angeles. Just send the email to email@example.com . I'll announce the winner in the comment section. How's that for showing some love?