Friday, November 2, 2012

Jamaika: die Sonne scheint, das Wetter ist süss

It's sort of hard not to like a Jamaican restaurant called Ya-Man (Ya, Mon in English) with a waiter/proprietor sporting a bizarre 1970s Jheri curl wig. Especially on yet another beautiful fall day - if you can eat lunch outside in Berlin in October, life can't be all that bad. Ya-Man isn't cooking revolutionary food, but good home cooking aka soul food. Despite the sunshine (no jacket required!), I ordered the stewed oxtails. They were full of flavor and I would definitely order them again. I could, however, do without the small blob of coleslaw and the iceberg salad. I found this nod to Germany unnecessary and not at all delicious. If I'm looking for coleslaw or salad of any kind, I wouldn't head for a Jamaican restaurant. My friend's Soul Food Plate, basically a salt cod stew was also good, but on the salty side. My sense is that if you order right, you can do really well at Ya-Man. I'm not so sure I'd ever order the arugula salad with duck breast - both things I like, but this almost-hole-in-the-wall just doesn't strike me as the type of joint for this kind of food and I'm not sure what it's doing on the menu. That said, they have plenty of traditional Jamaican things on offer (jerk chicken! curried goat!) and I would stick to that. My main issue with Ya-Man has to do with their beverages. It would be nice if their juice selection wasn't limited to apple and carrot, which doesn't really say Jamaica to me. You can get good quality frozen fruits (or pulps) in Berlin and that's what I would expect them to have. Nonetheless, my friend ordered the apple-carrot juice and it was both very small for the price and very watery and served with ice. Nobody's expecting anything for free, but using cheap ingredients, serving them watered down, and taking up most of the tiny glass with ice does not scream hospitality. My ginger beer also came in a small glass with ice. I know they are importing ginger beer, but for more than 2 Euros, I expect to get the entire can without ice. I also didn't care for the brand of ginger beer they serve - it was very sweet and not all taht spicy, but I can chalk this up to a matter of taste. There have been some rumbles on Qype about prices at Ya-Man and I found the food prices to be acceptable and in line with similar places in Berlin -- restaurant-owners have to eat too. But when a restaurant is so blatantly cheap, as Ya-Man is with the drinks ... it does leave a bad taste in your mouth. I would go back to Ya-Man if I found myself hungry on the 106 bus, but next time I'm packing tap water. Ya-Man Gotzkowskystraße 17

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