With the heat of summer finally upon us, it’s time to get into island mode. If you like authentic Jamaican food, head over to the SE corner of 48th St & Park Ave. to visit the Jerk Pan. It’s a non-descript blue and white food truck parked on 48th St, so look for the Jamaican flag flying from the truck.
The Jerk Pan has been around since at least 2009, possibly longer. Since we last visited them a couple of years ago, a 2nd location has been opened on the corner of 56th St and 3rd Ave.
Last time, we enjoyed their fried chicken. This time we went for the namesake dish, jerk chicken. It cost $8.50 for a medium portion and $11 for a large.
The medium size had a large breast/thigh combination hacked into 4 decent-sized pieces of chicken, and also came with 2 sides. It’s hard to imagine how big a large portion would be, but it’s certainly more than we usually eat for lunch.
Lunch comes with a choice of white rice or rice and peas. If you’re not familiar with Jamaican food, rice and peas doesn’t actually have peas in it. The “peas” are beans, with this dish being basically rice and beans.
Whether you get white rice or rice and peas, be sure to say yes to the optional gravy. The rice and peas were a little dry by themselves, but the addition of gravy (which had small pieces of meat in it), really brought the flavor up a notch.
We were a little worried that lunch only came with a fork and small napkin. The jerk chicken looked like it would need a knife…but when we started eating it, the meat came right off the bone. Yum!
The skin was charred, but the chicken underneath was moist and tender. We also said yes to the optional jerk sauce, which was a bit hot and peppery, but also had a slightly fruity undertone. Definitely get the jerk sauce, too.
The other side dish is either cabbage salad or macaroni salad. We asked for macaroni salad, but they gave us cabbage salad. The cabbage salad included carrots, corn and string beans as well as cabbage. Not bad, but it wasn’t what we ordered.
Other than getting one wrong side dish, the jerk chicken lunch from Jerk Pan was very good. There was a lot of food for $8.50, and it was all well spiced and flavorful.
The Jerk Pan has other Jamaican specialties such as brown stew chicken, curry goat, oxtail and curry shrimp towards the end of the week. Don’t forget about the fried chicken, either.
The Jerk Pan is pretty old school, meaning they don’t do much on the social media front, but they don’t need to. They have a regular clientele that’s large enough for expansion to a 2nd location. Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to spread the word.