China Express spring rolls

One of the go to spots in Jamaica is The Courtyard at The Market Place. The reason for this is simply the nesting of restaurants situated there. At present, there are five restaurants which offer foods from Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, and West Indian cuisines.

I have visited the courtyard on quite a few occasions and I’ve  decided to zoom in on China Express. This restaurant prides itself in serving authentic Chinese cuisine and offers a take out service as well as a dining experience. It is arguably the largest of all the restaurants.

One convenience of this restaurant is that one does not necessarily need to make a reservation. Upon entry, you are greeted by a host or hostess 

China Express table

and escorted to a table of your choice. There are tables available to accommodate couples, and small and large groups. The decor had a Chinese theme, from the lamps hanging from the ceiling to paintings on the walls. The chairs were made of what looked like bamboo,  with the padding and the top back rail covered with what resembled leather. There was a good light balance, and depending on where you were seated you could easily have a nice, romantic dining experience or a light, friendly one.

The menu has a quite a few things to choose from as it included seafood dishes, chicken, beef, duck, and vegetarian options, just to name a few. I opted to go with chicken and vegetable spring rolls as the appetizers, which I think were decent enough. They were hot, the wrap was rather crispy, and they didn’t taste bland. Honestly, I had to search really hard to find the bits of chicken. and the vegetable seemed to be predominantly cabbage. Overall they were okay.

China Express spring rolls
Chicken and vegetable spring rolls

For the entree, I went with chicken in black bean sauce and chicken in capital sauce which were accompanied by a side of steamed rice. The chicken in black bean sauce was de-boned chicken thigh which was cut into bite size pieces and cooked in a black bean sauce with green bell peppers. The sauce was a good balance of salty and mild spiciness, and the chicken was juicy and tender.

China Express chicken in black bean sauce
Chicken in black bean sauce

The chicken in capital sauce was also bite size and fried in a batter. It had a bit of a crunch and was coated what was a predominantly a sweet sauce. When had together, the choices of meats complimented each other, however, I had a slight preference for the chicken in black bean sauce. 

China Express chicken in capital sauce
Chicken in capital sauce

The servings were quite large, so I had to have them pack the remaining portions to take home. Overall it was a good dining experience and will be going back to check out some more of their dishes. 

 

 

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Annex East Japanese

A Jamaican Japanese Fusion

For my last birthday, my friend decided to take me out for dinner to celebrate. As is customary there was a long discussion as to where we were going to eat, however, I was able to pull the birthday girl card and weasel my way out of making the final decision. We eventually ended up at Annex East Japanese which is nestled in The Courtyard on Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston, Jamaica.

This restaurant has two locations and serves authentic Japanese cuisine. While I have dined at the Market Place location before, which I enjoyed, this was my first time at The Courtyard. On arrival, we were greeted, seated and presented with our menus. Of course, deciding on what to eat took just as long as deciding on where to eat as the time was split between taking in the décor as well as the different food options. The space was much smaller than the Market Place locationdsc_03471 but their décor had a casual refinement mingled with a touch of elegance. I almost didn’t notice the huge speakers on one side of wall as the music coming from them was rather subtle. The miniature winery on the wall was picturesque and coupled with the lighting fixtures added an elegant feel.

After several moments of indecisiveness, we finally settled on what we would have to eat. For starters, we ordered a serving of escovitch fish rolls and steamed chicken dumplings. The dumplings were steaming hot when they arrived and were served on a bed of lettuce with a ponzu sauce, which is a dark brown, citrus based sauce made by simmering mirin, rice vinegar, katsuobushi flakes and seaweed over medium heat. The dumplings were patty shaped with undulating edges and had chicken on the inside. They were soft and tender and the chicken flavour was quite prominent. The dumplings on their own were a little bland, however they were very flavourful when had with the ponzu sauce as it added a welcoming balance of spiciness and acidity.dsc_03601

I am not a fan of raw fish, so I was relieved to find cooked sushi rolls on the menu. The escovitch fish roll were lightly fried in a tempura batter and had a prominent acidic flavour, which I liked, as it counteracted the mild rawness of the fish without being overpowering. I would have preferred them a bit smaller as they were slightly too large to be had comfortably in one bite.dsc_03671

For the main course, I had chicken vinegar with tartar sauce which was served with rice and vegetables on a huge plate. I was surprised at the size of the plate which may have appeared to be even larger because of the tiny table on which it was placed. The tartar sauce was creamy, spicy and the flavour of black pepper was particularly distinct. The chicken was sweet and went well with the sauce on the first bite however as I continued eating I found it to be too fatty and greasy, and quickly had enough of it.dsc_03621

My friend had chicken and shrimp don which consisted of teriyaki chicken, shrimp tempura and sautéed vegetables over rice. I do not eat shrimp but my friend quickly testified of how crispy and well-seasoned the shrimp tempura was. The green beans still had their vibrant green colour, and cooked just al dente. The teriyaki chicken also did not disappoint; it was sweet, tender, juicy and not superficially seasoned.dsc_03721

By the time we had finished the main course, we were full so we did not order dessert. Even though I did not particularly enjoy my main course, I would definitely go back to try something else from their menu. The service was good and I enjoyed the quietness, as it was not as busy as the Market Place location. It is a nice little spot to unwind and have a good meal.