Shop C51A, Q Super Centre
Corner Bermuda and Markeri Streets
Mermaid Waters QLD 4218
+61 7 5575 1501
Jamroc’s biggest fan, my other half Marty, has been on my back about getting this entry posted for the last three weeks or so. But because I’m me, I’ve been putting it off deliberately for the sole purpose of pissing him off. This week, however, Marty’s been reasonably well-behaved (short of paying an overdue phone bill, which I’ve been harassing him to finalise by the end of today) so as a reward, I’ve given in to his request to post my review of The Most Awesome Jamaican Jerk Chicken Eatery Ever. Unfortunately for all you Melburnians who
stalk read this blog, Jamroc is located in suburban Gold Coast. Thus, unless you’re planning a trip to schoolies this year to hook up with some just-legal hotties, it looks like you’ll have to miss out. Tough luck. For those who live on the ‘Coast or fly up every so often, like myself (no, not to prey on post-yr.12 students), the small restaurant is located in quiet Mermaid Waters which is home to swimming star Grant Hackett and Q Super Centre, a plaza that’s not really as exciting as its name suggests.
From the outside, Jamroc looks like an unassuming dime-a-dozen chicken franchise. In fact, the whole layout and menu reminds me of a Nandos store – chicken and chips, burgers, wraps, salads and sides. They even have various jerk sauces available for customers to purchase should they wish to make their own jerk chicken at home. What differentiates Jamroc from a typical Nandos store, however, are the personal touches – the friendly Caribbean hospitality every time you enter the store, the little trinkets from the Islands and the reggae band that plays here every Friday evening, creating one helluva party atmosphere. From this, it’s obvious that Kingston-born owner Daimian Parkes takes pride in this baby. And from the stories he told us of his ‘research’ trips around the country to see if Jamroc would be a viable business and as well as occasional trips back home to Jamaica to gather fresh ideas for his business, you can tell that he’s passionate about his food too. It was a late Saturday afternoon when I made my first visit with Marty, who has been here many times. The quiet afternoon lull make it the perfect time for the two of us to indulge in some jerk chicken while discussing jerk chicken recipes with the dude who was working behind the counter for the day.
They were advertising a 1/4 chicken and chips pack for $7.50 (normally $11.60) which got me sold. Like Nandos, they offer different marinades ranging from mild to ridiculously hot. I chose the traditional spice (medium) marinade just because it seemed like the safest option, even if it meant looking like a pussy to Martin who always goes for the Rasta’s Revenge (the hottest sauce they have there). Now, I love my Nandos but man, Portuguese chicken has NOTHING on Jamroc’s Jamaican jerk chicken! Having previously discounted Jamaican jerk chicken after a dinner at the now-closed Yeah Maan in South Yarra, Jamroc’s jerk chicken restored my faith in the popular Caribbean snack food. Marinated in jerk sauce, my chicken piece was then grilled before being heaped with a lovely tangy sauce which contained a bit of jerk seasoning to give it a little heat. They must have marinated it overnight too, for the lovely seasoning seeped right through the amazingly tender flesh. It was so delicious that I ate the damn bird until all traces of meat were stripped from the bone. And the chips? They were pretty friggin’ good too. Martin might have said that they were ‘too crumbly’ but what does this joker know about chips?! I like crumbly and crunchy with only a dash of tangy chicken salt and this place did chips EXACTLY the way I liked them.
Martin ordered his usual Rasta wrap ($8.10), with the Rasta’s Revenge sauce. Tender chicken breast pieces were marinated in a fiery sauce that was brimming with Scotch bonnet peppers and wrapped with tomatoes, onions and greens. A subtle garlic mayo also provided some much needed relief from the heat. It’s not something I’d order (pfft, why have a wrap when you can have a naked chicken?) but it was fresh and tasty – I can see why Martin always comes back to this.
Finally, we finished our meal off with a serving of festivals ($3.75), which are fried cornmeal fritters. ‘What an odd name,’ I thought as I bit into a wonderfully crunchy oval of carb-y sweetness and saltiness. Apparently, though, these fritters are called festivals because they’re supposed to symbolise all that is ‘fun.’ Or something. Either way, they were the perfect end to an extremely satisfying meal. Hot and sweet, with just the slightest amount of saltiness. Kinda like those sweet Chinese donuts that you can get at yum cha, but crunchier on the outside and chewier on the inside. I need a recipe, stat.
I may be all ‘Melbourne is better than Gold Coast’, especially when it comes to food. My visit to Jamroc, however, has made me grudgingly say that Gold Coast DO have a one-up when it comes to GOOD Jamaican food. Yeah, okay, so burgers, wraps and chips aren’t a staple in Jamaican cuisine but I believe that the chicken we had is the real thing. And it tastes so damn good, too. Suffice to say that when I flew back to Melbourne later that night, I was sad not because I was saying goodbye to Martin, but because I was saying goodbye to Jamroc for at least a few months. Mr Parkes if you’re reading this, I would love for you to set up a franchise in Melbourne – those flights to Queensland are starting to add up!