I haven’t had chicken for lunch yet this week, so I decided to try the Jerk Pan’s fried chicken. If you want to try the Jerk Pan truck, which I recommend, they are easy to spot. Just look for the Jamaican flag with Bob Marley on it flying off the back of the truck, which is parked on the SE corner of 48th St and Park Ave.
Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the Jerk Pan today, they were out of fried chicken, and it was only 1:15. Since they were out of fried chicken, I invoked an old standby rule – when a food vendor has the name of a dish within their name, it’s usually one of their better dishes. Based on this unwritten rule, I had the jerk chicken for Today’s Lunch ($8), even though I had a jerk chicken sandwich from the Jamaican Dutchy cart last week. Let’s call it the Jerk Challenge.
The first thing I noticed was the nicely charred skin. No doubt this baby was grilled well. I also noticed that a fork and napkin was provided, but no knife. As they say in Jamaica, “no worries”. The chicken came right off the bone with just a fork. It was literally falling-off-the-bone tender.
Anyone into jerk knows that the jerk sauce is of paramount importance. The first bite of chicken with jerk sauce gave off a sweet, not spicy, taste. It was somewhat reminiscent of a bbq sauce, but not nearly as ketchupy as bbq sauce. After I took a few bites, it got a little hotter, but I did not really get heat until I ate some of the skin. That’s when the heat finally came out. The jerk sauce was really good, but I should have asked for some hot sauce, too.
The rice and beans was very good, but there was way too much to eat for lunch. I nearly got a hernia carrying lunch back to the office today. (Exaggeration, but not by much). Rice and beans with some jerk sauce on it was a good, filling side dish.
The steamed veggie side dish was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t really expect to like it, but it was really good. The base was cabbage, but there were plenty of carrots, corn, peas and string beans with a mild sauce. I try not to eat too much cabbage in the office for obvious reasons, but this was excellent. If you’re a vegetarian, these steamed veggies over rice and beans will keep you full for a week.
There was too much food, but after I ordered at the truck, someone else got a jerk chicken mini platter for $6. It comes in a smaller square container, not the large rectangular container, but it looked like plenty of food for lunch. Most of their platter were in the $8 range, but they all came in mini for around $2 less. They also had curried chicken, oxtail and curried goat today, as well as a ton of sides and desserts. The truck menu is below. It’s not one of my better photos, but will give you an idea of the variety.
I really enjoyed Today’s Lunch, and can’t think of any part of it that was not excellent. I was initially disappointed about not having the fried chicken, but the jerk chicken, rice and beans and steamed veggies were all wonderful. I have to give Jerk Pan’s jerk chicken platter a 9 out of 10.
It’s hard to compare the jerk to Jamaican Dutchy’s because they were quite different. Jamaican Dutchy’s jerk sauce was more of a peppery brown sauce, while Jerk Pan’s was more of a sweet spicy sauce. Given the level of quality of each, it’s more of a personal preference which one you will like better.