Eating at home The recommendations
Hi Everyone, last week, I wrote about the hits and misses of various foods that I have been having during my visit to Guyana. I asked you for recommendations for pastries and some good ole Guyanese-Chinese food among other things, and many of you readily responded with numerous suggestions. Thank you!
As the recommendations poured in – through email and word-of-mouth, I began to make a list, complete with headings, etc. I know, it sounds nerdy but that’s just who I am; I like to be organized. As I looked at the long list, I knew that there was no way that I would be able to visit all of the places within the space of time I had left on my visit, so I grouped the suggestions based on items and the number of times a location was recommended for said items. So, the places I went to were those with the highest number of recommendations.
It is important to note here that taste is subjective; your taste may not be my taste and vice versa. However, there are certain flavours and textures that should be present for enjoyment.
Maggie’s, Quality Plus Fast Food and Jane Daniels’ Catering, topped the list of recommended places to have pastries. Each of the pastries at these locations was distinctly different from the other. Hands-down, Maggie’s get my vote for overall best pastries. I liked Jane Daniel’s cheese rolls.
Ned’s Bakery, Quality Plus Fast Food and Pastry King were the top three recommendations for salara. However, it was the salara given to me by a friend from a bakery all the way up on the East Coast, La Bonne Intention (LBI) that was the runaway winner.
The salara was still warm as my tasters and I bit into it; the dough was soft and tender, the coconut appropriately sweetened. My only comment is that I would have wanted to have more coconut in the roll itself. I loved the generous helping of coconut that the Quality Plus Fast Food salara offered. Man, it was so heavy with rich deep red-coloured coconut that it spilled out of the edges of the cut slices.
We also tasted salara from Humphrey’s Bakery but I was put off by the fact that the salara was made into individual pinwheels and the colour of the coconut was light red. Sometimes it is the visual appearance and visual memory of something that has an impact on the way we eat.
Ned’s salara was good, but I did not find it outstanding.
The phulourie that was recommended from Mrs Bettencourt’s Snackette (directly opposite the hospital on East Street), lived up to expectations – you could taste the peas and the complementary seasonings. It was not greasy; it was the perfect size for a mouthful.
I had an outstanding egg ball from a little shop on Waterloo Street, located between Quamina and Church Streets, on the same side of the road with Astor Cinema. It is always a delight to get to the egg in an egg ball, but let’s be honest, it is the casing that really stands out, that is what truly makes an egg ball. The cassava casing was creamy, seasoned and flavourful, complete with flecks of sliced green onions. The sour was a hit too. It did not overwhelm with heat, the flavour of the mango shone through with a subtle hint of sour.
Unfortunately, my tasters and I never got around to sampling the offerings of dhal puri. Most of the people who sent in dhal puri recommendations, however, swore by Shanta’s dhal puri, particularly when it is hot off the tawah.
My mom’s vote went to Beacon’s dhal puri. The dhal puri taste testing will have to be left for another trip.
Hilton and Seiko Restaurants were the front-runners in the recommendations. The fried rice at each of these locations had their own unique tastes. I think that what it all boils down to is your particular taste for Guyanese-Chinese food. I enjoyed the food from both locations.
However, it was the food from Cambo restaurant on Sheriff Street that won my taste buds. Though not as well known as the other restaurants, the food my tasters and I had from Cambo, had all of us nodding and smiling at each other. Even one of the tasters, who is not big on Chinese food, kept coming back for more. I am a happy woman.
Hilton’s roast pork was the best, followed by Cambo and then Seiko. I particularly did not like Seiko’s roast pork because it was heavily sauced. The flavour was there but I found the sauce overwhelming.
Thanks to a new friend, Ganesh (who drove me around safely and in air-conditioned comfort) I had some excellent home-cooked Guyanese food outside of my family’s various homes. Opened just over 6 months, Excellence Cost-Cutter Creole Restaurant, located on Charlotte Street between Camp and Alexander Streets is a crowd pleaser, truly a cost-cutter (you can get a balanced meal starting from $400 (US$2), and the taste is indeed excellent! My tasters and I sampled the okra and shrimp, bora and beef, the callaloo cook-up rice with chicken, the black eye peas cook-up rice with salt beef, fresh beef, tripe and chicken, the fish cakes and fried chicken. The food was always hot and fresh.
Another place I went to was Nicky’s Juice Power on Camp Street, closer to Princes Street. The peanut punch took me back to my small days of drinking Ferraz’s peanut punch. Ferraz’s parlour was located at the corner of Quamina and Main Streets, now Qik Serve.
A parting thought: Expensive items do not necessarily equate to a better quality and by extension, fancy establishments do not always make the best food.
Thanks everyone for the recommendations and the warm welcome home!