A traditional preparation of Jamaican curry chicken at Gold Star.
Open 24 hours for lobster tail, oxtail, curry goat, shrimp, fish with a Jamaican twist and so much more, the Gold Star Jerk Center on 219th Street and White Plains Road is a welcoming delight for the taste buds no matter the hour.
Homesick Jamaican palates can get their fix at Gold Star, and so can any seeking out well-seasoned dishes that speak of richly flavorful island dining.
The restaurant is widely regarded as home to some of the best Jamaican food in the city with clients crowding in around the clock.
"Sometimes we create a dish, and we sell out in an hour," explained Jackie Cowan, manager at Gold Star. "Dishes don't last long on the board, because there are always people here."
As it favors island ingredients like coconut, mint, papaya, and curry, the locale has a faithful clientele with lines that can start around the corner.
"The curry crab, the red snapper, and the jerk chicken – these are all my favorites, especially for dinner," said Njeri Archer who has been eating at Gold Star for a little over two years.
"Everything here is great. You can't go wrong, and the seafood is certainly worth it," she added.
With the smell of aromatic spices in the air from the moment one steps into the restaurant, a formidable appetite builds simply while waiting to place an order.
That, and observing the contented smiles on the other diners' faces, forecast a delicious, satisfying meal to come.
Many note that Jamaican cuisine is not that dissimilar from its neighboring Latin Caribbean cuisine, with a reliance on dense layers of fresh spices, tubers and roots vegetables, and stewed meats.
"The combination of flavors is great," said Rachel Webster, whose father is Jamaican. "If you have curry goat for example, the rice and beans and fried plantains make the spicy goat taste even better."
"We also eat lots of cabbage, which has a mild taste that balances out the spice of most of the meat dishes," she noted.
And no meal is complete without the refreshing spark of a classic Jamaican drink.
The Ting, the carbonated soft drink made with grapefruit juice, is a deliciously tart and sweet concoction that swirls in your mouth, bringing the roller coaster ride from all the curry and spices down to a subtle stop.
"I love the refreshing flavors of it; it's the perfect ending to a Jamaican meal," said La'Kenya Tam.
"We are always busy, around the clock," affirmed Cowan of her Gold Star establishment in a tell-tale sing-along accent. "The food is really Jamaican and each dish is done fresh, that's why people always come back."
And that staple of Jamaican food?
Yes, it's here: the golden, doughy pockets filled with richly seasoned, stewed ground beef that are a perfect meal all their own.
Affirmed loyal customer Webster with a smile, "Yes, the beef patties are amazing."
Gold Star Jerk Center
3768 White Plains Road (btwn 218th and 219th Streets)