Opening in March 2019 in Touchwood Shopping Centre, Jamaya brings proper Jamaican jerk chicken and fried chicken to Solihull.
I had noticed the advertising that started about Jamaya and couldn’t wait to be amongst the very first to enjoy the dining experience on offer at the restaurant. There’s a spate of Caribbean restaurants that have opened across the UK but finding one that nails the taste and flavours of Jamaica is always tricky – I couldn’t wait to see just how Jamaya would shape up.
My friend and I arrived for our booking to be greeted by a sign instructing us to knock and wait. This was to be expected, this is a soft-launch opening after all and only adds to the excitement of what’s in store. We entered and were greeted by a warm, bright and well lit restaurant. It was already occupied by a few guests but we were quickly shown to our table, handed the menu and informed that we should take a look and then head to the counter to place our order.
We browsed the menu, taking in the description of everything from jerk chicken, ja-mac-n-cheese, wraps, burgers and roti. There’s also a children’s menu and a selection of sharing platters.
After some debate, we opted to share the Fried Wings Overload Platter (10 fried chicken wings and 4 sides), a jerk chicken wrap and of course, ja-mac-n-cheese – we’d have been crazy to skip it!
Our food was ordered and served to our table in around 25 minutes; enough time for us to enjoy a brief catch up and soak up the atmosphere before tucking into our hearty Jamaican lunch.
As our food approached the table we quickly observed that we had ordered a lot of food – we had after all ignored the suggestions of the staff, insisting that we wanted to try a wide selection.
The orders are well proportioned and the Fried Wings Overload Platter was more that suitable for the two of us.
We chose four sides of fries, sweet potato fries, fried plantain and festival. All were fresh and appetising: note, the kitchen is open plan and customers can observe most dishes being freshly prepared.
The ja-mac-n-cheese is portioned suitably to serve as a starter option, however it is a macaroni cheese with a kick of jerk seasoning. There’s a good covering of cheese but I could’ve done with more sauce to the dish.
The platter was fabulous however as the fried chicken wings were being prepared, a member of staff offered us the choice to try a mix of fried and jerk chicken wings instead. Of course we said yes.
Sadly we had to take the jerk chicken wraps away as we were just too full, however the staff were very accommodating of our request to do so.
After the defeat of our platter meal, we chose to each try a dessert (I know, I know – still feeling full!). Jamaya offers carrot cake, cheesecake and chocolate brownie – we both chose the brownie served with vanilla ice-cream and didn’t regret it at all.
Overall Jamaya is a welcome contribution to the Solihull dining scene. Yes, there are other Caribbean chain restaurants in the town centre but Jamaya nails the jerk chicken and fried chicken recipes, bringing back the fusion of jerk chicken flavours that I know and love from Boston Jerk Centre in Portland, Jamaica (the home of jerk seasoning).
The menu is thoughtfully arranged and also includes a small selection of dishes suitable for vegan diets.
The range of drinks on offer is fairly extensive with the Jamaican favourites of Red Stripe Beer and rum punch making an appearance. I’d love to see the additional of Red Stripe Sorrel beer (I rarely see this in the UK) and Guiness punch – a Jamaican favourite that was a regular feature of my childhood.
We left Jamaya in agreement that we had thoroughly enjoyed our meal and would definitely be making a return. My only regrets: not ordering the ‘proper jerk’ seasoning for the Fried Chicken Platter, and that I was driving and therefore unable to try the rum punch, which is just another excuse to make a return visit.
If you’re visiting Solihull then booking a table at Jamaya is simply a must. You won’t regret it and can even score a discount if you sign-up to the JamRock Club via the Jamaya website.