location: Kingston 11 Cuisine (Berkeley, CA)
1620 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
I had heard of this Jamaican place, only open two days a week for dinner, and had wanted to come here for a while but never got the opportunity, until now. It’s located inside Guerilla Cafe. Walking in, the atmosphere was really nice and the host incredibly friendly. We were seated at the counter, right in front of the cooks. I had high hopes.
As a starter, we got some plantains with a black bean sauce and sour cream. Since one of our entrees actually came with plantains too, I think this was probably unnecessary. The plantains were very sweet, kind of sticky on the outside, tender and creamy in the middle. I dipped it in the black bean sauce.
For our entrees, we got the jerk chicken (left) and escovitched salmon steak (right). I didn’t know what escovitched meant, but looking it up, it is a method of seasoning and marinating fish in a spicy, vinegar marinade and then poaching or frying it.
The salmon was served with sweet potato fries and swiss chard, dried cherries and pine nuts. This salmon was disappointing. I was happy to see such a large, meaty cut but it was cooked only very, very slightly. I know that fish shouldn’t be overcooked as to become dry and tough, and it can be good to slightly undercook, but this, I felt, was too undercooked. I really liked the vegetables on top, though, which were pickled, so they were spicy and sour, but still crisp - very enjoyable. The swiss chard was crisp as well and light and refreshing. The sweet potato fries were more like a roasted sweet potato than a fry. I think fries are expected to be crisp on the outside. They were sweet and creamy, cut in thick slices.
Since I heard so much about the jerk chicken, I had to order it too - it came with rice & peas, plantain and green salad. The chicken was quite disappointing. I expect that jerk chicken should have a strong, powerful flavorful, but this chicken was pretty bland. I think all their spices were on the skin, so the meat itself was not strongly flavored, and even the skin itself wasn’t that delicious. The meat was also a little dry and tough. The rice was a little mushy (overcooked) and seemed to be topped with some sort of curry.
overall quality: 6/10
desire to return: 5/10