7000 S. Kirkman Rd. Orlando, FL. 32819 407-730-3832
Hrs. Sat-Thurs 11-12am Fri –Sat 11-2am Kitchen stays open as long as restaurant is open.
A couple of days ago I went to get some oxtail stew at Singh’s Roti Shop. Having gone there a few times, the young man behind the counter probably thinks I love this type of food which I do or he was just promoting their new restaurant. He encouraged me to check this place out. Singh has gone upscale!
In other major US cities like New York and Miami with major hubs of West Indian population there are several Caribbean restaurants that cater to the entire public. Orlando, having a somewhat smaller yet growing Caribbean influence, has yet to fully expose the dining public to the wonders of the region. Smaller more locally centric Caribbean restaurants exist in almost every West Indian neighhood in and around the suburbs of Metro Orlando. Most major Caribbean destinations are represented including the vast Latin American countries. But very few, if any, that I can clearly pinpoint combine several of these distinguished cuisines.
Welcome to Singh’s Caribbean Cuisine. It has taken over the old KC something or the other, on South Kirkman Rd. at the I Drive intersection. With a fresh red awning, a splash of paint on the exterior, outdoor patio with nice umbrellas and tables, a back covered patio with cozy tables and chairs, a tasteful updated interior with Caribbean wall art, and island style walls of outdoor speakers blasting Caribbean music, this establishment is set for a distant move from the other local Caribbean jaunts in Orlando.
At first glance of this menu I was a little intimidated and confused. Maybe, it was my expectation with the restaurant’s name or how I heard about it. Guess I was expecting a sit down table service version of Singh’s Roti Shop. Smack, is what I get for prejudging. Or as they say in the Caribbean “Two slap pon you head”. The menu does have elements of Singh’s Roti Shop with Trinidadian style curries, rotis, puris, fried appetizers and Trini-Chinese fried rice and lo mein. But that’s as far as it goes, because there is a whole new section including Puerto Rican, Brazilian and Latin American influenced dishes. Ambitious was my first thought.
Then I got around to realizing, what is Caribbean Cuisine? Isn’t the Caribbean a melting pot of several different original peoples? Wasn’t England, France, Spain, and Portugal colonizers of this precious land? Weren’t Africans, Indians, Chinese, and Indonesians taken to the Caribbean Islands and South America to work the sugar and coffee plantations? Weren’t there already tribes of original people living there called Amerindians? So what is Caribbean Cuisine? Isn’t it a melting pot of all of these influences with ingredients native to the region?
How is this Caribbean Cuisine delivered? Simple, almost peasant like. As anyone from the Caribbean would tell you, the best food is not from name brand established sophisticated restaurants. It is from little road side shacks or individuals with the trade and recipes passed down from generations. Food does not get any better than local ingredients prepared in a simple honest way, no fuss, or manipulating. This is the Caribbean way. This is what Singh’s Caribbean Cuisine is trying to bring to the Orlando local and visitor’s palate.
Appetizer Sampler – Poulorie, Potato Cake, Crab Cake with tamarind dipping sauce. Ready for this? This is a FREE sampler for every table! Don’t know how long that will last, but I’ll take an amuse bouche anytime. Poulorie is a chick pea, flour, and spices combination formed into a little ball of goodness and deep fried. Potato cake is a pastry shell filled with, you guessed it potato. Crab cake was coated with shredded coconut and fried. The tamarind dipping sauce is amazing. I asked for another serving. Thanks!
Chicken in the Ruff – Chicken, sprinkled with salt and pepper then fried. Hand cut fries. Perfection!
Curry Goat – Goat meat, potatoes, and channa (garbanzo beans) simmered in a complex mix of spices. I am impartial to Singh’s Roti Shop curries, because I suspect that they include my nemesis, green peppers. If it is the same recipe here I cannot tell. No taste of green peppers. Goat meat is by nature boney, however there were very minimal bones and lots of meat. The bones that were present was slit in the middle exposing, oh so succulent marrow. For marrow lovers, this is heaven! Slurp. Great curry, nice texture. For extra kick try the accompanying pepper sauces. Stop! If you are accustomed to pepper sauce bottle hot, don’t assume you can handle West Indian hot. Taste first before dumping the whole container over your food. You could scald your tongue!
Dhal Puri – The Trinidadian wonder bread! This is made from flour with grounded chick peas filling. It is fluffy and soft, the perfect vessel to sop up curries. Are you wondering how to handle that? Not to worry. This is where you can get messy. Use your fingers! Yes, break pieces of this roti (the actual bread like dish without chick peas) dip into curry, plop into mouth without dribbling on clothes. Not that hard. If you are too fanciful, here is a tip. Use fork and knife to cut the dhal puri into small pieces, transfer directly into curry, mix it all up, use fork and knife to transfer food into mouth. Disclaimer: I will deny ever telling you to do this, very un-West Indian.
Seven Powers of the Sea – cliché Asian name right? Look pass the name. First glance, this looks like seafood in curry, it’s as Trini named restaurant right, wrong assumption again.Crab, scallops, octopus, mussels, clams, shrimps, and squid simmered in a light sofrito type broth. This was described as a seafood soup. The perfume from this dish is simple pleasure. I hinted saffron, but I could be wrong. Not even a hint of curry. All Spanish style, really amazing.
Did I mention that this restaurant was opened two weeks ago? Oops, shame on me. The wine list was not ready even though the actual wine bottles were stacked in a cabinet. There were limited amount of Caribbean style beers available and the staff was not very familiar with the multitude of West Indian Rum. Rum is the king of spirits in the Caribbean. Calm down, the place just opened and they are foraying into unchartered territory for the Orlando market and the owners. There will be bumps and curves with what this restaurant is trying to accomplish. Service here is very friendly and cordial, they are really trying hard to please and fix hiccups as they occur. It is a welcomed addition to the multicultural diversity of the Orlando food scene. Full flank ahead, concur the Caribbean!