Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen (Toronto)

For being such a multi-cultural city, Toronto is sadly devoid of non-fast food Jamaican restaurants. While I have no objections with having a huge stuffed roti or plate of jerk chicken for $10, I also like to enjoy the food slowly, with friends, and preferably with a drink in hand. Enter Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen, where there’s plenty of drinks to be had and food to share.

You can’t go wrong with any of the likkle bites, such as the saltfish fritters ($12), each two-bite pastry lightly packed with plenty of fish in a deliciously hot crispy crust. The miniature Jamaican patties ($10) arrives four to an order: two tasty curry turkey ones incorporating the right amount of spice and tons of gravy along with two vegetarian coconut patties, which after the turkey feels a bit plain. Nonetheless the pastry is great and the filling heartier than the typical frozen variety.

If you like scampi shrimp, Chubby’s pepper shrimp ($16) incorporates a base of garlic butter then adds scotch bonnet chili sauce to make it fiery red. They’re juicy and flavouful where you’ll definitely feel the heat, in a bearable way.

The slow-baked jerk wings ($16) were a sizeable portion and great for sharing. With a sticky dry rub made from honey, scotch bonnet dust, and lime zest, the spice slowly builds on the tongue and leaves a light burn to remind you it is jerk. While the wings were enjoyable, they should be cooked less as the chicken was bordering on dry.

There’s also a variety of jerk offerings for mains. Having had the chicken wings, we opted for the jerk pork ($17), which arrives as two cuts: a fried pork belly and a grilled buckeye loin. Surprisingly, the leaner loin was the moister of the two; the pork belly so overdone that it was chewy. Chubby’s smartly pairs the meat with sautéed seasonal vegetables, a mixture of kale and collard green that’s just cooked until wilted with bits of kale stalk added for crunch. This is one dish where the vegetables are just as good as the protein.

My favourite dishes were the saucy ones with rice. The curry chicken ($16) contained bone-in pieces boiled until tender in a flavourful light curry sauce. A bowl of jasmine rice accompanies the curry with papaya chutney and shaved coconut if you want to make it tropical, I just liked it plain. While not pictured, the Caribbean veggie stew ($15) was rich and satisfying, where the pumpkin and sweet potato helped thicken, coconut milk made things creamy, and the corn and beans added texture.

With a ton of sides to choose from, a large group is ideal so you can mix and match: the rice and peas ($5) actually contains red kidney beans and goes nicely with the jerk pork, Chubby’s slaw ($5) has a great vinegar base and cools any spice, the fried okra ($6) is surprisingly large with the bigger pieces split in half so there’s no sliminess, and the jerk tempeh ($7) reminds me of a hearty mung bean side, great by itself or with curry.

The rum and raisin bread pudding ($10) got me so excited that I forgot to take a picture of the dessert. Cut into cubes and then deep fried, the dessert is crispy on the outside and soft and cinnamonny on the inside. They’re like hot delicious beignets with a warm caramel sauce and cooling vanilla gelato.

While it’s best to go to Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen as a larger group, the circular tables are so small that you can hardly fit anything else if everyone orders drinks and the hot sauce is placed on the table. We had to ask the staff to take away the tea light and strategically place items on our seats to allow the food to fit.

Nonetheless, we managed and enjoyed our dinner. Perhaps it’s the environment, sit on the second floor and you’ll feel like you’re transported to a Caribbean destination: the skylights let in the sunshine, while the slowly spinning fans and tropical décor give you a lazy feel. Everything, is gonna be all right.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 104 Portland Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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