Jamaican Food. The name itself conjured up good images of drool-worthy barbeques and some spicy overtones. When entering the restaurant in Al Manzil Souk, the walls outside do hog the limelight. The font used for Ting Irie in a blue background made for a nice selfie corner. The main wall had many vintage style posters. But as soon as you enter the restaurant, it’s a psychedelic place. It seems like you’ve entered a club. Sans the very loud music. Inside, it’s a fusion of all things Jamaican presented in a rather creative & funky manner. Expect to see Bob Marley posters, graffiti and a potpourri of Caribbean inspired designs. Too loud though for those looking for a traditional fine dine. But then, Ting Irie is happy to not be in that space.
There are two halls. We went to the hall that looked like a bar/lounge. They did have a bar counter which to my dismay was a mocktail counter (too bad they are not licensed). No hics, no hurrays! But this place is where the action is, as the DJ console is here (wish there could be a live band), so are the high tables and bar stools, you can see the kitchen through the glass wall and drool at the slow-cooked barbeques. The entrance hall had two magnificent mirrors that actually tricked me in thinking, wow, what a huge place. But it’s a smart move since you don’t miss the heavy work done at the restaurant from any angle.
Moving on to the menu, the server was kind enough to explain us what each menu item was. And the fact that few ingredients like Bonnet Peppers are imported to retain the authenticity. I had already made up my mind to have Spitfiyah Jerk Chicken and Peppa Shrimp in the mains, as my familiarity with Jamaican cuisines starts and ends here. My friend ordered Oxtail Cocobread sandwiches and Jamaican patties for the starters.
The Oxtail Cocobread sandwiches (basically sliders) had a nice quantity of meat-to-bun ratio. The Jamaican patty was decent. What I was so looking forward to have was the Jerk Chicken, as it’s the pride of Jamaica. I have cooked Jerk Chicken with the Jerk Spice Rub few times and had loved the flavors. But this is where Ting Irie broke my heart. It was neither spicy nor juicy. I was looking for heavy flavors, because subtlety isn’t an aspect of Jamaican Jerk Chicken. What came out really well was the Peppa Shrimps. The prawns were oozing with the flavors of peppers and other spices. This is what we expect from a Jamaican restaurant, a no holds barred policy when using the spices.
What really stood out was the service. The staff attending to you is friendly and peppy. You would see them even dancing around, that’s the true Caribbean feel here. The staff in the kitchen was Jamaican too, to retain the authenticity of the traditional style of cooking.
I need to visit this place once more to try out some more dishes, as every dish in the menu seemed interesting and worthy of a big bite.