Every once in a while I get an craving for greasy Chinese food that's different from what you can find at your everyday takeout stand.
Some of you may remember my Caribbean-Chinese party from two years ago. The theme had been inspired by the wee bit of my childhood that was spent in Puerto Rico and the hybrid dishes I remember eating at Chinese restaurants there, like chicharrones de pollo and pineapple shrimp. I had also added some Jamaican influences as well, including jerk chicken wings and a cocktail made with hibiscus tea. It was a fun event, but needless to say, Caribbean-Chinese food never became a steady part of my diet.
Flash forward to 2010. Today I found myself in Prospects Lefferts Gardens at De Bamboo Express, one of the two or three Jamaican-Chinese restaurants I know of in the city. Objective: a cheap but filling lunch.
The place is pretty spartan, with a couple of wall-lined counters, a few tables, and enormous menus highlighting their $5 lunch specials. (The one cook in the kitchen appeared to be fully Chinese, not hapa. You have to wonder whether he grew up cooking Chinese-Jamaican dishes, or switched over from more straightforward Chinese food.) I picked up a jerk chicken lo mein to go and a lime rickey soda.
The dish was as good as it looks in the photo. The chicken was juicy from being cooked bone-in, and seasoning was just hot enough. I would guess there were some Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers in the marinade, as well as soy sauce and five spice powder. (Eating large pieces of bone-in chicken with a plastic fork tests your dexterity, especially when your roommate's hungry cat perches itself on the adjacent chair, ready to pounce at any sign of weakness.)
Compared to the intensity of the spices on the skin, the white meat seemed a little bland; some duck sauce took care of that. And I absolutely loved the lo mein noodles, springy and chewy and far from the soggy mess that some establishments dole out.
Maybe I need to go back with a few friends (friends who are willing to be dragged to Crown Heights) and make a dinner out of it. Jerk lamb, curry red snapper, hot and sour soup with fried fish. Oh, the possiblities.
De Bamboo Express
772 Flatbush Ave.(btwn Clarkson Ave. and Lenox Rd.)
Brooklyn, NY 718-469-0117
Closest subway: B, Q to Parkside Ave.
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