Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seriously good jerk chicken comes to Kensington Market

It's not hard to find jerk chicken in this town, but all too often it's dry and flavourless. Food lovers in search of good jerk have had to go to Scarborough to pick up the excellent sandwiches at Fahmee or Allwyn's. But now there's a new restaurant serving top notch jerk chicken, smack dab in the middle of Kensington Market.

In June, Rasta Pasta opened at 61 Kensington Ave., a tiny space formerly occupied by Hogtown Charcuterie. Previously, Rasta Pasta had a brief stint inside the Latin Mall on nearby Augusta Street. The name Rasta Pasta reflects the Jamaican heritage of co-owner Magnus Patterson, and the Italian heritage of his partner, Mary Neglia. 

You can get oxtail, curry goat or even the namesake dish, Rasta Pasta, which consists of tricolour pasta in the rasta colours with, um, tricolour peppers. Skip all that and go for the jerk. The "lunch special"—a small container of jerk chicken on rice—is just five bucks. 

The chicken is purchased around the corner at St. Andrew Poultry and marinated in a spicy sauce for two days. Then it's steamed in the oven, and transferred onto the oil drum barbecue outside the shop, where it's roasted for half an hour. 

It's a similar technique to the nightly oil drum Jamaican BBQs that take place on Eglinton West, but the chicken at Rasta Pasta is much better. It's incredibly moist, with an intense, smoky flavour that doesn't just coat the surface but saturates every bite. Get it while it lasts, because Rasta Pasta's reputation is quickly growing. If you get there too late in the day, they may be out of their soon-to-be-famous jerk.

Rasta Pasta is located at 61 Kensington Avenue, Toronto. Tel: 647-501-4505. Hours are 11am to 8pm Tuesday to Sunday; closed Monday.

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    1 comment:

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