So…How do you eat so much?
Simple, really. Because you’re eating from the Kassava Truck (warning – or recommendation – site is blastin’ the Marley tunes. Adjust your speakers accordingly).
The Kassava Trucks (there are two), are fresh from the proverbial oven of Kassava restaurant on 3rd Street in Los Angeles. Many of the food trucks are a method for dishing juicy morsels of food gossip about a hot new chef. They ease start-up costs while whetting the local appetite for a brick-and-mortar space; but Kassava was already serving up scrumptious (if somewhat pricey) portions in their own location long before the food truck trend got started.
It very much feels like Kassava’s impetus behind going mobile was a desire to bring their food to the masses. And maybe they also wanted to ride the trend a little (and who can blame them? It’s a very good trend, quoth the food truck blogger…)
The website describes Kassava’s food as “a blend of French Antilles/Caribbean & Jamaican cuisine.” Co-owners Marie France Levostre and Pras Michel (of The Fugees‘ fame) are from Martinque and Haiti, respectively. The trucks, however, are [nearly] 100% pure Jamaican. This isn’t fancy, fiddly or fine dining – it’s street food. It’s also less expensive than the sit-down place, which helps add an air of authenticity. Cheap, hearty and delicious Jamaican food? Yes mon!
The jerk chicken was served atop a bed of peas (beans) and rice, next to a small hill of plantains, and a pastel scoop of steamed cabbage. The overall experience was yum.
The chicken was bone-in (messy, harder to eat than boneless chunks, but light years more flavorful than untethered pieces of white meat) – and, surprisingly, not very spicy. Which is not to say it was flavorless; the chicken was saturated with flavor – this wasn’t just a skin-rubbed spicing; the meat tasted like it had been basted in juices and seasonings for hours. Combined with the fact that it was fall-off-the-bone tender, I was a happy, happy girl.
Rice and beans (called peas in Jamaican creole), are ubiquitous to Caribbean food. What is less common is the perfect balance of butter/spice/nuttiness dished up by the Kassava folks. And when I say “butter/spice/nuttiness,” big up uno dem**, I’m not kidding. The rice was spicier than the jerk chicken and gleaming with butter. Sweet, sweet butter. And salt. I loved the rice so much I almost licked the container it came in – but a regular diet of the stuff will kill you. Although you’d die happy…
The plantains were cooked velvety-soft, but firm enough to maintain their burnt-orange structure. Sweet – but not too sweet. A small serving, but just right.
The steamed cabbage was my least favorite of the meal. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t all that great. Slightly pickled steamed cabbage, carrots and onion, together in a sort of Caribbean coleslaw. It was really just okay.
John’s brown stew chicken was a dish I’d never tried before but instantly knew I’d be ordering again. It’s actually less of a stew than meat simmered for hours in a surprisingly sweet sauce containing brown sugar, caramelized onion and spices. I loved it – and I’m usually more of a savory girl.
Kassava is also known for their roti and their meat patties. Between us, our jerk and chicken stew dishes were the perfect size for lunch, and I couldn’t bring myself to pile on, but this LA Times review of the Kassava restaurant gives some hearty descriptions of the other items:
…Jamaican patties, empanada-like pies, are flaky of crust and bulging with jerk chicken, saucy stewed beef or vegetables, and they make a substantial foundation for a satisfying supper with salad or soup.
Kassava’s roti is sumptuous. The soft, thin, slightly flaky griddle bread, wrapped around chunks of Gil’s curry chicken or curry goat and dipped into its spice-infused sauce, possesses a combination of flavor and texture that vies with the perfect Parisian pastry or the very best taco. Roti is also the ideal absorbent for the rich, satiny sauce of coconut shrimp, though the pairing may not be traditional.
To summarize: freakin’ yum.
Everything cook and curry at Kassava, so sidung – feel no way – just eat.****How do you eat so much **Praise to all of them ***Everything is just fine [at Kassava], so come down – don’t worry – [just eat] Jamaican glossary from SpeakJamaican UPDATE: OCTOBER 2010 – KASSAVA TRUCK IS NO MORE (MOMENT OF SILENCE). YOU CAN VISIT THEM AT THEIR RESTAURANT ON SUNSET BLVD