At Tang of Jamaica, framed pictures of Bob Marley and travel videos on Jamaica create a glossy setting for the smoky, spicy fare
It’s a long way down a dusty service road on Outer Ring Road, next to the Kalyan Nagar Bus Depot but not very close to much else. It stands rather visibly proud, with exuberant colours that leap out at you from the bright walls outside, and that follow you in as you wind through the bar and lobby and end up in a quaint hall. Its name is Hotel Jamayca.
As you walk through the hotel and enter the restaurant, Tang of Jamayca, the congruity is striking. From the yellow and green tablecloths, to the Jamaican music playing over the speakers, to the framed photos of Bob Marley, everything speaks Jamaica. That is, Jamaica as we, foreigners, know it. The use of stereotypes to represent Jamaica shows the staff to be as fascinated by and removed from Jamaican culture as the customers are.
The effort is valiant but the ambience, for the most part, is impersonal. Like a very glossy brochure.
We try and concentrate on our perfectly-cooked rice and tender jerk chicken and enjoy the smoky, barbecue spice of the jerk seasoning that is Jamaica’s trademark as the television repeatedly blares a documentary on travel and holiday in Jamaica.
And it’s not difficult, because the food more or less lives up to any expectations that may have (hopefully) been formed during that short pleasant trip through the hotel into the hall. The quantity seems like it’s worth twice what I paid for. The seafood salad is the best hotel fish we’ve eaten in Bangalore; the all-pervasive seasoning makes the rice and chicken even more interesting. (Vegetarians are not so lucky.) The buffet is open every day until 3 p.m., the menu shuffling around every day and including a range of meat and Jamaican curries.
Manager Prabhat Rai, a smiling, amiable man, enthusiastically tells me about jerk, the special Jamaican seasoning, made from allspice (also called Jamaica pepper) and scotch bonnet peppers, which characterises most of the dishes here — and can’t help but deviate to stories of life in Jamaica, where he lived for fifteen years.
Jamaican culture is as vast as Indian culture, and I can see that culture not in the well-known Akon songs playing in the background, or the gaudy travel and living tape playing, or the sensual voice urging me to take a vacation in Jamaica, or the waiters who seem to be as new to Jamaican food as I am — but in this friendly man’s voice and body and in the way he cannot stop talking about it, the way he loves Jamaica and wants me to love it too.
I suppose I could say I would think twice before coming to this secluded area again to eat, but it would not be so hard to recommend it to someone else. Our jeans feel tighter as we heave ourselves up to leave.
(Tang of Jamaica is at No. 4, GM-426, 2nd Block, HRBR Layout, Outer Ring Road. Call 25444433.)