Food review: Jamroc, Mermaid Waters

QSuper Centre, Cnr Bermuda & Markeri Street, Mermaid Waters

My Jamroc love affair was not ‘love at first sight’ but ‘love at first bite’!

I’m partial to a bit of bird, especially when we’re pressed for time. A good chook can be hard to find. Despite this, I’d dismissively walked past the Jamroc store at QSuper more times than I’d care to admit.

“Just another chain in the chicken production line,” I thought, “another bird on the wire!”

Wrong! My first bite of succulent, juicy spiced bird told me that!

International chain? Wrong again!

Jamroc is a family business. When Joy Parkes (Mama Jamroc) and her family moved to the Gold Coast in 2010, she missed the flavours of Jamaica so much that she decided to bring them here. No one Jamaican dish would speak to Aussies more, she thought, than Jerk chicken, so Jamroc was born. Within a couple of years, Jamroc chicken was famous enough to be a food of choice of the West Indian Cricket Team on their Australian visit.

Jamroc BBQ ‘Jerk’ Chicken is the centrepiece of Jamroc’s menu. Following recipes handed down through generations, the chicken is twice marinated for over 24 hours using Caribbean herbs and spices (jerk) before it is char-grilled. Halal, gluten free and dairy free (there aren’t many cows in Jamaica), it’s nutritious and ticks all the right boxes.

Main dish sorted…now for the choices…

Firstly, you need to choose your heat level. We chilled out with the Mild. It’s aromatic and flavoursome. (#1 Useless information: The Main Squeeze is a bit of a heat wuss). The adventurous can choose Traditional (Medium), A Hot Affair or, for the brave, the fiery Rasta’s Revenge. That’ll put you amongst it!

Secondly, choose the way you want your chicken served. To me, nothing beats a dressed bird with a side of lightly spiced slaw and chips. Cooked in vegetable oil (rather than the usual beef tallow), the chips are crisp and crunchy. Seasoned with Jamroc’s special salt blend, they’re some of the best chips we’ve tasted! (#2 Useful information: We prefer to eat in to maximise the crunch.)

The Main Squeeze ordered a Rasta Wrap which was ‘entirely awesome’ (his words). It’s a generous meal of soft tortilla wrapped around marinated chicken breast, salad and garlic mayo; a great lunch alone ($8.10), or with a drink and side ($13.70).

Want a lighter meal? Try the kebabs with a salad on the side, or a burger for something even more substantial. Named after Jamaica’s capital cities, the burgers are full of flamed chicken breast and a choice of fillings, sizes and add on sides (chips, slaw, rice and beans, salad or cornmeal dumplings).

Although there’s no charge for BYO and a bottleshop nearby, a range of Jamaican soft drinks are available in the store next to the stand of imported sauces.

If you’re really adventurous, try one of Mama Jamroc’s daily specials from her Caribbean Kitchen: Goat Curry, Oxtail and Broadbeans, Curry Chicken or Brown Stew Chicken. They’re made from the traditional recipes by Mama herself. To us, they’re an acquired taste, but for Jamaicans, they’re a real taste of home.

Frankly, I think Mama Jamroc was right: it’s all about the Jerk Chicken. As my teeth sank into a succulently spiced smoky flavoured breast on my first bite, juices dripping down my chin, I was heard to murmur, “I won’t eat another chicken again unless it’s this good!”

Love at first bite!

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Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast




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