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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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