Yeah Maan Rastarant, South Yarra

The one place I’ve been craving to go to for the last 5 years is a cute little Jamaican restaurant, tucked away on Punt Road. If you weren’t looking for it, you’d most likely drive past without noticing it, or just assume it’s closed. I’m not sure why I wanted to go there so badly, but it could be because of a rumour I heard about an entire football team going there for dinner whenever they’re in Melbourne. I dunno, I just wanted to try it. Lucky for me, Scoopon had a deal of two Entrees, Mains and Desserts with a glass of wine each. SCORE!

It started to piss down on our way there, so we were really lucky to find a park just around the corner from the place. When you open the door, the grey and mundane is left behind and you enter a cosy, warmly lit eating area with laid-back reggae music to add to the ambiance. I was surprised to see how few tables they actually had. You can’t fit a football team in here!

Anyway, we were promptly seated and the first thing sorted was our drinks. The casually dressed attendant told us off the top of his head what wines were available, and once we made our choice, they were in front of us within minutes with the menu.

Entrees ‘n’ Tings
We ordered a bowl of Jumbo Jumbi Cassava Fries, which were served in a bowl with sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce. These chips were great. The spices they were tossed in perfectly seasoned them with salt and flavour, and they were all unevenly and jaggedly cut, so some bits would be soft, and other bits would be fried through. The texture of the chips was different to your normal chip. They were firmer, more generous and substantial. I was a little let down that they copped out with the sauces. It would have been nice to dip them in a unique sauce, but ah well.

We also ordered Alloo Pies, which were massive dumplings filed with Caribbean spiced mashed potato and drizzled with sweet tamarind sauce. This was interesting. It was like a giant samosa with potatoes and caraway seeds, and there was a predominant Indian influence in the flavour. The tamarind sauce confuzzled me, because I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Initially, I guessed sugared prunes, but then I got a hint of ginger. By the end of it I was so confused, I had to ask the attendant, but I didn’t get answer because he didn’t know. I had to read the menu again to find out it was tamarind. I’ll have to buy some and cook with it because it had a really interesting flavour.

Mains ‘n’ Tings
If we didn’t order Jerk Chicken, we’d be jerks. The menu said this dish is a “perfect reflection of dat Jamaican lifestyle”. It came out on a well-rounded plate with a side of those yummy jumbo jumbi fries and salad.

The chicken was marinated in a unique blend of spices that stained the meat like tandoori, and it wasn’t too far off from tandoori either. It was sweet, with only a little bit of spice, and very juicy. There were bones that needed to be picked out, but the meat was so tender and moist that it just slipped off the bone.

We also got the Curried Goat, which came in a little pot with some steamed rice with beans. Morsels of succulent goat and potato in a stewy coconut curry with chopped herbs and mild spices.

So good… Once again, there were bones that needed to be removed, but all you had to do was suck the meat off and you’d end up with a clean bone. Geez, that sounded dirty, but the meat was so tender, it just fell apart. The curry itself was very gentle with a hint of sweetness and absolutely no chance of burning reflux. It was gorgeous!

The rice was good too, and even though it was plain, when you occasionally got a red bean, the little burst of smooth refried bean flavour cut through all the spices and mellowed everything out.

Every Daze Desserts
After the mains, we were so stuffed, that we asked for our dessert to be bagged up so we could take it home. They obliged, and we lazily drove home so we could digest on the couch before getting stuck in the sweetness.

Unfortunately, I’d have to recommend that you skip their desserts. We ordered the Bread Pudding and Upside Down Pineapple cake and both tasted very similar, with the same consistency and the same custard poured over the top. I don’t know whether it’s because we took the dessert home or whether it’s always like that, but not very good.

After years of waiting, Yeah Maan Rastarant has lived up to all of my expectations. Because I’m not a big dessert person, this solitary shortcoming made no dint in my opinion of the meal and experience. The setting was cosy, with good lighting and soft music, and the staff were exotic, super friendly and very attentive, always ready to clear empty plates, refill glasses and even to ask if we were ready for dessert yet. The only annoyance was the copious amounts of bone, but if that doesn’t bother you, then forget about it. The meat was tender and juicy and yes, I will come back.

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