(CNS Foodie): If you are ever in the mood for some traditional Jamaican style food to order and carry out, Taste Buds is the place to go for some sumptuous food for good value. This cook shop is tucked away in the corner of Murryson Plaza off Eastern Avenue but you can’t miss it as there is a large sign placed in the front of the plaza with a humongous tongue sticking out, licking its lips to maybe help us envision trying the food.
As I entered the bare minimal establishment, I was greeted by mostly Jamaican staff. As is typical in this kind of restaurant, there was a whiteboard menu that displayed the food pre-prepared for lunch as well as special items.
There are a few local favorites you can always guarantee to be on the menu, such as oxtail, two kinds of chicken (mostly fried or stewed), a pork dish (stewed pork, ribs or pork chops), and a daily soup. There is always a choice between a small or large portion but I find the small is pretty hefty. The lunch prices at Taste Buds range between $6 and $8 for a small portion and the large is an extra $2. The soup is either $3 or $5.
I knew exactly what I wanted to order: oxtail, a local favorite. I placed my order with a chef, who served me over a food station. This is something I like about this place because there is interaction with the person who prepares your food and you can see and advise exactly what you want in the large size Styrofoam container. There was a choice between rice and peas or white rice, as well as either steamed vegetables or fried plantain.
The oxtail was cooked to perfection. It was soft, well-seasoned, with a hint of a tomato base. My only complaint was that there was a bit too much fat on the meat for my liking, but it was very tender that the meat fell off the bone easily.
I always like to ask for oxtail gravy over my rice with the broad butter beans, which gives the rice that extra flavour. The rice and beans were moist and flavourful, and the sides they had to offer were delicious. The steamed vegetables were served in a buttery sauce and the fried plantain was very sweet and caramelized around the edges.
The food was so delightful that I decided to go there again, but this time with a friend. I ordered the stewed chicken with white rice and vegetables. My friend had oxtail and rice, with pasta and chopped lettuce and sliced tomato as the side dishes. We asked them to leave off the breadkind – potato, dumpling and yam.
We both ordered the soup of the day, which was red bean soup with beef — and it was delicious, cooked with the rich flavour of coconut milk and very thick with the soft red beans. I found a huge bone in my soup, which was a bit surprising, but overall it had a consistent amount of large chunks of beef and was good to the very last drop.
The stewed chicken, however, was not what I expected. The sauce was not the regular kind that I am used to and lacked that hint of sweetness. It seemed as though they used browning sauce, but it nevertheless had flavour and was tasty. The white rice was palatable but lacked enough salt and needed the gravy to give it zest.
The level of service varies. The first time I went there I was tended to promptly and the food appeared quickly. The second time my friend and I had to wait a few minutes to be acknowledged, even though there was no line. We were, however, greeted with a smile.
This is a great place to grab some delicious, savory, heartwarming and well-seasoned Jamaican food on the go, and the price is right.
There is no gratuity added and I did not see a bucket to place any tip.
Taste Buds does have a website but their photo gallery appears to reflect a chain of restaurants rather than the one in the Cayman Islands.
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Category: Golden Spoons Review