by Deborah Im

Authentic Jamaican in Tokyo? This city never fails to surprise and delight me with its food finds. JamRock Café, just steps away from Harajuku station, is a must-visit for anyone in need of a laid-back vibe, reggae music, and some delicious Jamaican food made from the loving hands of owner chef Yvonne and her competent crew.

The extensive menu includes Jamaican classics such as patties (similar to an empanada, a flaky crust filled with beef, chicken or vegetables), jerk chicken, and saltfish with ackee, Jamaica’s national dish. Where the chef manages to find ackee, a flower native to West Africa, in Tokyo is a mystery, but thank goodness she does, because JamRock’s saltfish with ackee is delicious—chock full of ackee, onions and salted cod.

Daily specials include brown stew chicken, escoveitch fish, brown stew fish, oxtails and butter beans, and spinach soufflé. On a recent visit, the oxtails and butter beans were perfectly braised, with the succulent meat falling off the bone. With a side of brown rice or beans and rice, it’s a perfect meal to warm the soul. You can actually feel the love put into the tender oxtails!

JamRock also has several vegetarian offerings, including irie pasta made with penne, broccoli, spinach and ackee; Jamaican vegetable and bean curry; vegetable lasagna; and a delicious spicy jerk tofu with brown rice.

All of JamRock’s dishes are savory and flavorful, but the clear winner is the jerk chicken with festival. The chicken is perfectly spiced and grilled, the meat is tender, and best of all, it is served with a side of festival—fried dough similar to a doughnut; savory and slightly sweet all at once, and absolutely addictive.

The food is so tasty that it’s hard to remember to save room for dessert, but whatever you do, don’t miss the grapenut ice cream! That’s right, grapenut ice cream, made with Grapenuts cereal. Buttery and rich with a silky rum

finish, the Grapenuts add the perfect balance of texture and savoriness. Even before we could finish the first bowl, we had ordered a second. Other dessert offerings include sweet potato pone (pudding), cornmeal pone, rum raisin cheesecake, pistachio brownie, and daily specials such as carrot-pineapple cake.

Jamaican food isn’t complete without some rum to wash it all down, and JamRock offers cocktails such as guavaberry rum and coke or almond rum and milk, all made with wild St. Maarten tropical folk liqueur.

Open Tue–Sun for lunch  (11:30am–3pm)  and dinner (5–10pm, Fri and Sat until 12am)
4F, 1-21-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03-3478-2364


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