Man has it been wet and cold(for SoCal) this past weekend....it's during those times I tend to day dream about crystal blue waters, white sand, and lying on the beach, warmly roasting my internal organs..... So how much is that flight to Jamaica? Egads $900.....well, maybe I'll just move along to day dream #2, that would be, what else.....food! Granted food is usually number 1, but this weather has moved it to number 2 for a while. Ah yes, a nice "food vacation" would do just fine, and this would usually mean a short jaunt to Island Spice for some good Jamaican grinds. But not this time. About 6 months ago, I received an email from a FOY(friend of Yoso) letting me know that Island Spice doesn't have a monopoly on Jamaican food in San Diego. The email mentioned a restaurant called Caribbean Taste located in Encanto.
After driving along on Imperial Avenue, I found Caribbean Taste located in, what else, a strip mall, right past the Encanto sign and almost directly across the Encanto Trolley stop.
Though the exterior of the Caribbean Taste appears large, the interior is not very large. The interior is bright and sunny enough to warm me even on a cold and damp winter day.
Even though the menu is just a single sheet, very concise, and all plates come in two sizes, small and large, I had a difficult time deciding what to get. So many tempting entrees...should I get the Curry Chicken, or maybe one of my favorite items; Oxtails, perhaps Brown Stew Fish? I finally settled on the Curry Goat (small - $8.00):
All plates come with Jamaican beans and rice, steamed vegetables, and fried plantains. The curry goat was excellent, with a light spiciness, mild creaminess....the goat had been cooked perfectly, fork tender, and moist. Good stuff. I was not a big fan of the bland rice and beans, and I thought the vegetables were also bland.
The curry goat was enough to get me to return, this time I got a variety of dishes, starting with the Jerk Chicken (small-$8).
As Jerk Chicken is concerned, I really enjoyed this. There was a sneaky amount of mild heat, and the chicken was very moist, even the piece of breast. A good mixture of spices, a very mild sweetness, and a decent salty component. The best piece by far was the wing piece. Like my previous experiences with Jerk Chicken, it was not as spicy as I would expect, but I enjoyed the nice roasted skin.
At last, Oxtails (large - $12):
The portion size for the "large" size...was just that, pretty large and generous. Like the other dishes, this was well seasoned, fairly tender, and moist. I prefer my Oxtails to have a good amount of gelatinous bits, these fell short a bit in that aspect.
As I mentioned before, I find the steamed vegetables, a combination of cabbage, corn, beans, and a bit of greens to be on the bland side in comparison to the main course.
If I had to compare this to the version at Island Spice, I'd say this was more meaty, salty, and well seasoned than the version at Island Spice, but I enjoy the depth of flavor and velvety smooth textures of Island Spice's "gravy" better. This doesn't mean I won't have this again.......
This is the large size Curry Goat($11.00) - a generous serving, which made us happy, since leftovers are much appreciated in our household. On this day, the goat had a good amount of gamey flavor, and the generous amount of meat was soft and tender. As I mentioned before, if you're not familiar with Jamaican Curry, you may find yourself surprised at the mild flavor, but it is still good stuff.
I guess one can't help but compare Island Spice and Caribbean Taste....so if I were forced to, I'd say that in most cases Caribbean Taste's food (except for the sides) are much more aggresively seasoned. The atmosphere is also quite different; while Island Spice is much more of a raucous, lively, place. Caribbean Taste, is much more mellow, like a nice, sunny day on the beach, nice folks at both places....... I'm just happy that we have not one, but two Jamaican Restaurants putting out good eats in San Diego.
Caribbean Taste Jamaican Restaurant
6171 Imperial Ave
San Diego, CA 92114
Hours Mon-Sat 9am-8pm