Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica
7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day
a lot of hope around downtown Jamaica, where the AirTrain JFK station is
set to go, at Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.
lot of people are expecting the new airport shuttle service, scheduled to
start by the end of the year, to bring a lot of tourist dollars — and
stomachs — to the neighborhood.
to meet that need, on Sutphin just a few steps from the station, is the
new Caribbean Flavors Roti Shop.
restaurant, acquired by its owners last month, promises an expanded menu,
better food and nicer service than its previous incarnation, another
Caribbean restaurant called Trinidad Roti.
recent visit confirmed the improvements.
food at the restaurant is, on the whole, rather spicy and tart.
The effect is refreshing and light, something not all Caribbean
restaurants can pull off well.
Doubles Aloo Pie, for just a couple of bucks, is a great starter.
Doubles are little four-inch pieces of fried bread; “aloo” is a
local word for potato.
The bread is sweet and moist, while the filling — fresh potatoes
and chick peas in a tart dressing — provides a nice contrast.
crab and dumplings make an excellent light meal; the crab meat, while a
little hard to get to, is very soft and while it’s distinctly Caribbean
in flavor, you can still taste the ocean in it.
It’s great for seafood lovers.
of course there’s the roti.
restaurant’s half-dozen kinds of roti — baked bread laced with lentil
crumbs and rolled around chunks of meat and potatoes — are its most
popular items. King
of that list is the beef roti because it’s boneless and easy to eat like
goat, shrimp, oxtail and potato roti are also available; all the rotis are
between $4 and $6.
roti is most popular with the restaurant’s Trinidadian customers; its
Jamaican customers favor the oxtail entreé with rice and peas, said owner
meat, rice and peas dinners, made with the same ingredients as the rotis,
cost between $4 and $9.
is often busy at the restaurant, which opens at 7 a.m. and sells saltfish
more than anything else that time of day.
isn’t much to choose for dessert, but homemade root drinks like sorrel
root and Irish moss are as thick, sweet and drinkable as shakes.
restaurant is currently trying to expand with a liquor license, and Burke
wants to remodel the interior and turn it into an indoor beer garden, she
in case food isn’t your thing, the restaurant serves as a musical
resource for the Caribbean community, too.
a hold-over practice from the previous restaurant, Caribbean Flavors sells
not just Caribbean CDs, but movies on tape and DVD and records on vinyl.
in a practice common in Caribbean restaurants, the place has a small
bakery and grocery section, selling many of the ingredients you’d need
to make great food – like the stuff produced in its kitchen.