Sweet Sap Jamaican Restaurant

| October 28, 2012

Marley would love it heresweet sap

If you yearn for authentic Jamaican food in a really hip and funky environment, then The Sweet Sap restaurant at the Joint Reggae Lounge in Los Angeles is the place for you. Somebody once said that almost everyone in Jamaica of a certain age, claims to have known, met, or either worked with or for, Bob Marley. I had previously met Rita Marley and this very night I did get introduced to Bob Marley’s daughter who lives close to the restaurant and is involved in a brand of Jamaican coffee.

In the case of owner/executive chef Jahni Cole, the Marley connection is not hyperbole, as his father was Marley’s road manager, and his mother is the legendary reggae singer Judy Mowatt. I am not privy to Bob Marley’s eating habits, but I assume that he would have been impressed with the majority of the food on offer at Sweet Sap. Jahni’s staple ingredient in all the dishes served here is coconut milk and the Kingston native is proud to admit it.

I would definitely always start with the spicy Jamaican patties with a superb pastry crust, creating a virtual nirvana if you are into savory foods. All the spices here are imported directly from Jamaica and dominate. Most of them are unnamed and what it does is create a lingering after-taste that is rather unique. Also, what else was pleasing, is the fact that if you take some of the food home and try it for lunch the next day, it retains the flavor and original spiciness.

The Jerk Wings and Jerk Shrimp will really knock your socks off and gives you a perfect opportunity to try some of the creative juices served up at Sweet Sap. The Cucumber was my favorite, but also check out the Beetroot and the Rum Sorrel, all of which have ginger and agave added to the mix.

It is also very important to check out the soup of the day, and the red bean vegan we tried that night was strong enough to force streaming tears to this diner who has tried plenty of spicy soups before. Andrew Zimmern would feel right at home here, and although this soup was rather memorable, it was a little too thick and would have been even better with a little more juice in the mix.

All dinners are served with Yard Rice, braised cabbage or stew vegetables and plantains, and one sure winner is the Braised Oxtail ($18), a true staple of Jamaican cooking. I did not get to try the Kurry Goat, but did enjoy the steamed Flounder Fish. Snapper is a popular item here as well, and the Kurry Kreamy Shrimp Alfredo ($22) does sound rather enticing.

End the meal with a banana and mango dessert and you have a thoroughly involving and interactive experience, all with live music or DJ’s most nights.