Review: DanDan’s Caribbean restaurant, Chingford

DanDan’s in Chingford Mount is bigger than I expected. It’s bright, yet cosy, vibrantly decked out in the colours of the Jamaican flag. The family-run restaurant is named in honour of the owners’ father, who passed away last year. I spoke to Roberta Henry, who opened the restaurant along with her siblings, formerly worked as the head of events for a large organisation. However, she said that even a hectic project management role didn’t prepare her for opening a restaurant, which has been busy with custom from the get-go.

Everything is prepared and cooked freshly on the premises, and there’s an extensive menu, which is updated daily.

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The Caribbean restaurant opened just six weeks ago and was an immediate hit with punters, who have kept coming back ever since. It was in between meals when I visited, yet there was a steady stream of custom. It’s not hard to see why.

I was presented with a tasting plate of a few dishes including curry goat, special chicken, pepper steak and jerk prawns.

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I started off with the prawns – juicy, peppery and moreish, before scooping up some curry goat with a mouthful of fluffy rice and peas. The meat was incredibly tender, exploding with a fusion of spices. The flavours gave me a buzz, a giddy rush of endorphins. The goat curry in itself is a reason to head down, but it doesn’t end there.

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The special chicken is aptly named. Made using a secret recipe, the crispy and succulent meat didn’t last very long on my plate, and I made short work of the fried chicken, which is ideal slathered in hot sauce. I cooled my mouth with some creamy coleslaw and tangy, sweet plantain.

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It’s hard to believe the restaurant has been open for less than two months, as the dishes seem as if they have been mastered over a number of years. To say they have a speciality dish wouldn’t be fair to the other dishes. Everything I ate had the same care and attention to detail as the last.

I made room eventually for my personal favourite, ackee and saltfish, served with a giant dumpling that soaked up the juice. The pepperiness was addictive, and the only way I could stop the lips tingling is to go back for another mouthful.

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My only criticism is that there wasn’t enough room in my belly to try everything on the menu, which means I’ll just have to keep going back.

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To keep the food fresh, the menu changes daily. To check what’s cooking, go to their twitter feed @DanDansCarib or Facebook page for more information.

DanDan’s, 259 Chingford Mount Road, London E4 8LP.

Open Monday – Saturday, 11am – 11pm

Tel: 020 8524 5757

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