Don’t Sleep on the Oxtail or Curried Goat at Jr’s Jamaican Jerk
Find succulent braised meats, jerk chicken, escovitch fish and more in Wahiawā by Shige’s Saimin Stand.
Ask most people in Hawai‘i about Jamaican cuisine, and they would probably talk about jerk spices and proteins. Jerk chicken, jerk shrimp and so on. Until I started visiting Jamaican eateries around O‘ahu, I would have answered the same way. That is, until I came upon Jr’s Jamaican Jerk in Wahiawā. Jr’s straightforward menu has the jerk-spiced proteins above. It is the braised meats, however, namely the oxtail stew and the curried goat, that surprise me in the best way possible.
Jr’s Jamaican Jerk opened last fall in the same building as Shige’s Saimin Stand. Several tables and a counter offer options for dine-in seating. Among menu items like ackee and saltfish, fried chicken, escovitch fish, stew peas and pork and coco bread, the oxtail stew is simply listed as “Oxtail.”
This is exactly what arrives on the plate: A generous serving of meat glistens like beefy, fatty diamonds in a dark, complex, rich sauce. Each morsel pillowy soft and bursting with flavor, the meat releases itself from the bone with the slightest pull. Not to be overlooked, underneath the stew is a bed of rice and peas. Equally delicious, this is cooked in a savory spiced broth, each pea retaining just a little bit of textural bite. If you want to treat yourself, this $26 dish would justify your decision.
I smile when I see the curried goat ($21). Not only do I love curried dishes in general, I also love game meats, so this is a no-brainer. I order the goat as a combo meal with jerk chicken. Like the oxtail, the goat is braised to perfection, with just a little bite. It’s truly moreish in flavor. In the curry, the meat tastes closer to pork than any game meat.
With regards to the chicken, while the jerk spices provide the anticipated kick of scotch bonnet peppers, the meat is just a tad dry. Most of the flavors are on the skin and don’t permeate the meat.
SEE ALSO: Wahiawā Kilani Avenue Food Crawl
Over the last few years, Wahiawā has transformed into a must-stop for food lovers. Long gone are the days of my youth, when family drives to the sleepy town inevitably meant a dinner at Dot’s or bringing home a cherry cream pie from Sunrise Bakery. Today, one could spend a very fulfilling and diverse day stopping at an array of old and new establishments. With succulent flavors that keep you wanting more, Jr’s Jamaican Jerk is a worthy player in Wahiawā’s food pantheon.