The best jerk chicken in London
£6.90 (lunch), £9.75 (evening)
Brixton old stager Bamboula certainly knows how to nail its jerk chicken. Two sweet and spicy pieces of oven-grilled chook are finished off with gravy and served up with rice ’n’ peas and plantain. For something fancier, drop by at dinnertime, when the portion’s bigger and you get some jerk sauce on the side.
Legend has it that Annie Lennox and Bob Dylan have eaten at this neighbourhood treasure. Well, here’s betting they came for the jerk: a mighty portion of sweet, saucy meat with a hint of traditional jerk spices, served with fried plantain or rice ’n’ peas and satay-style peanut sauce. Seriously good.
Cottons’ jerk is a saucy little number, succulent, slightly charred and doused in a finger-licking, ruby-red marinade that’s got a lot in common with your typical BBQ sauce. But the main difference is in the spicing, where you can pick up wicked flavours of ginger, tamarind and pimento. Don’t miss the mixed jerk platter either.
Believe the hype: Mama’s serves up some damn good jerk at Pop Brixton. The chicken is marinated for 24 hours in a secret sauce before being whacked onto a charcoal grill and served in a wrap or salad. They’ve added some tropical mango mayo too. Mama’s also pops up at Deptford Market Yard and Street Feast at Model Market in Lewisham.
£10.95 (quarter), £12.95 (half)
Less is more with Negril’s version of jerk, which holds back on the heavy seasoning for a simple, oven-grilled free-range chicken that comes with the best – and we mean, THE best – jerk sauce, plus a sweet portion of chicken gravy. Rice ’n’ peas is a good side order, likewise the reggae grilled vegetables.
£7 (small), £8.50 (large)
Not only is this wonderful Shepherd’s Bush takeaway cheap and cheerful, but the jerk here is pretty special. Ochi has gone down the wood-smoked grill route for their version, which is a succulent flame-grilled piece of chicken with a dash of spice, topped with a dollop of ketchup and served with rice ‘n’ peas.
£9.25 (quarter), £23.50 (whole feast platter)
Rhythm Kitchen’s Walthamstow site deals in proper Jamaican cuisine, and their jerk chicken is exceptional – spicy, juicy, charred, and full of flavour. Go with some mates and order the whole bird – a ‘feast platter’ complete with four Rhythm sides (fried plantain, dumplings, coleslaw etc). There’s a kiosk at Westfield Stratford too.
£8 (quarter), £13 (half)
If you like your jerk chicken grilled on charcoal, hot-step it to this Dalston joint. Rudie’s mouthwatering meat is marinated for 24 hours in a secret sauce, then seared to life on a traditional steel drum in an open kitchen. Just add a couple of sides and pair it with one of their epic cocktails.
£9.95 (regular bowl), £13.95 (large bowl)
Jerk chicken purists might scoff at anything that doesn't involve an oil drum, but you gotta give credit where it’s due. Rum Kitchen’s mildly flavoured jerk is marinated for 18 hours, slow-cooked for six and then smoked, while the line-up of sauces is a wicked nod to traditional jerk flavours.
£10 (bun), £12 (meal)
These bad-ass white boys have collected accolades and fans galore – thanks to their divine, spicy chicken cooked on a smouldering grill they’ve lovingly named Tallulah. Hunks of the well-seasoned meat are served with rice ’n’ peas, lime, slaw, some jerk sauce and pineapple salsa. Find them at Dinerama, the Prince of Peckham and other sites.