A Fork on the Road: Coconutz Fusion Café

 

Bite into a taste of Jamaica served to a reggae soundtrack

Coconutz Fusion Café

Linda Bladholm

For a taste of Jamaica served to a reggae soundtrack, head to Coconutz Fusion Café. The humble place serves oxtail stew with butter beans and jerk chicken plus a selection of Chinese dishes, pastas and vegetarian fare, some with the addition of tofu chunks or soy protein "meat." There's a counter to one side, with the kitchen behind, where cooks can be seen in a cloud of steam. Every dish is made to order and customers can request their desired amount of hot pepper.

Jamaican cuisine reflects a diverse cultural heritage and tells the story of its people. Owner Ralph Mason's surname is Irish yet his grandparents came from India and he grew up eating curry with roti in Ocho Rios. He started cooking at beach parties through a tourist board job and then worked for Royal Caribbean until he bought his own place 10 years ago in Miramar. It became a destination for musicians from the island who perform in South Florida; many locals come almost every day.

Start the day with stamina porridge made from bananas, carrots, pumpkin, cornmeal, oats and peanuts pureed with coconut milk and spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Ackee combos are made with the little brain-shaped fruit that taste like scrambled eggs sautéed with salt fish (bacalao), callaloo (thick spinach-like greens), cabbage, okra or chickpeas. Main dishes come with rice and peas or "food," referring to "ground provisions" including chunks of steamed white yam, sweet potato, pumpkin, potato and green banana. Choose a preparation style from sweet and sour, Szechuan, steamed, fried, curried, barbecued, brown stewed (in dark soy sauce gravy) or garden style with lots of veggies.

Whole yellow tail is good escovitch style (fried and marinated in vinegar with allspice, onions and peppers). Rasta pasta brings linguine tossed with curry and coconut sauce. Fresh-made pineapple ginger juice and candy coconut drops conjure a tropical sunset over the Caribbean sea.

Speak Up!