Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I Was at 219th and White Plains, My Stomach Had the Mad Hunger Pangs...I Ate You...Whoa - oh ohh.- Gold Star Jerk Center
Music please. (Rather than be obnoxious and have the beat come in automatically I will give you the option to listen to the track. I recommend you do so as it will only embellish the reading experience. Might even get you out of your seat.)
Does the restaurant's name need an obligatory pause? Feel free to add one.
It took me close to a year to come up with this title. And I fucking love it. A new series is in effect for my White Plains Road eating, and lord knows there are tons of spots from Gunhill to 241st St. You want Jamaican/West Indian you come up here- the Williamsbridge/Wakefield area aka The Yard. They still have a couple of record stores in business- Moodies, Tony Ryan's, Millennium- so get your dig on too. Just make sure to bring plastic gloves or wetknaps so the filthy record dust won't affect your eats.
Gold Star was one of the first spots I tried on White Plains Road. It came recommended and there always seemed to be a steady flow of customers coming in and out. When it comes to jerk chicken I usually head there as it is the "jerk center." I've also learned that while they have a bunch of items on the menu many of the items aren't available at various times of the day. Jerk chicken is the one item that you can guarantee will be there.
Their jerk is spicy. Not hiccup spicy but get a glass of water type spicy. I guess that's why they put a sweet sauce over it before wrapping it up. It's way too sweet for me and takes away from the complexities of the jerk. I make sure to request they don't add it, but instead put some stewed chicken gravy on it just to give the rice some extra flavor.
The outer layer of spice is thick and packed with flavor. I don't know Gold Star's recipe but hints of scotch bonnet pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and sugar are all prevalent. You taste so many different things with each bite, mainly the interplay between spice and sweet- and spice always wins. In the picture above you can see the pepper seeds with some of the red skin. They definitely let the spices sit and seep into the chicken. I've had jerk before where the skin has flavor but nothing else. Not here. Each bite has been jerked. Ayoooo. The rice and peas cut the spice of the jerk with subtle sweetness from the coconut milk. A problem I've had with jerk chicken is sometimes it tastes burnt, like it was left on the fire too long. They know better here and that has never been an issue.
I heard a customer behind me ask about soups and they were offering both chicken and seafood. Never one to say no to a weird blend of aquatic creatures I went in. I've never had a soup like this in my life. Shrimp with the shell on, whole crab leg, chunks of corn on the cob, whole okra, plantain with the peel on, and what I believe was conch- a chewy black clam like creature. That being said, it was very enjoyable. Strong and rich- bisque-ish I suppose, but a small was more than enough. Any larger might have been too much for me. Plus working on cracking shells isn't my thing- getting mad sloppy and making a mess.
A while back I ordered this dish butter beans and cod. It was sitting on the steam table behind the glass and looked rather appealing. Asked what it was and butter beans just sound good- anything with butter for that matter. Butter lettuce, butterfingers, butter cookies. This was pretty disgusting. The cod was too much. Fish to the highest degree. I have a high threshold for fishyness with lox and other things, but this was tough to eat. The dumplings were good though.
Gold Star is open 24/7 so just know that jerk is available at all times of the day. Like I didn't know that already? Please. We do how we do. If you're a fan of Jamaican/West Indian cuisine and haven't hit the White Plains Road corridor I suggest you make it uptown. The best patties in NYC are several blocks north and some mean Roti is 15 blocks away. This is destination dining to me, but it helps to live fairly close to enjoy it while it's hot. Shit, you can always picnic on the Bronx River.
Gold Star Jerk Center
3768 White Plains Rd.- just south of the corner of 219th St.
Bronx, NY 104
Take the 2/5 to 219th Street- southern-most steps take you right in front
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