Escape to Jamaica... in Kamloops. Take a trip to what may very well look like an industrial business area in Kamloop's North Shore; step inside JamCan Cafe and be swept away, you will completely forget about the city streets adorned with snow that are outside. I promise.
JamCan Cafe is located at 1157 12th Street, amidst various warehouse type buildings, in a strip mall. Although it's location may seem a little bit out of the way, unless you reside in the Brocklehurst area, it is well worth the drive to be discovered. Please note the Canadian/Jamaican flag mashup that adorns it's signage, very cleverly done, and completely suiting.
JamCan has a very warm and attractive interior, with diner style booths and tables with palms sitting in every corner. On the counters you'll spot woven baskets filled with plantains and other exotic fruits. A giant banana wearing a Rastafarian hat hangs from the wall, along with, yes of course, photos of Jamaica and Bob Marley. Reggae music is playing softly in the background, and the inviting smiles of the staff await you as soon as you walk in. Bottles of multiple types of ginger beer and coconut water sit on the service counter, beside their dessert display of an assortment of cheesecakes. Calypso mango sauce is sitting on every table, and your water comes with a wedge of fresh lime, a great added touch. The restaurant was at least half full of customers and there were also many people on their lunch breaks popping in for take-out orders. I must add that the bright-smiled oober friendly gentleman with dreadlocks in the back made a point of coming out of the kitchen to greet the take-out clientele and even offer them fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies which he had just whipped up.
JamCan serves breakfast, brunch and lunch items and it's colorful menu is not only great to look at, it reads well too. I know I've found a great gem when while reading a menu, I have a horrible time deciding what I'd like to order because all of the items sound so amazing. There is also a lunch special board at the entrance which had great items listed as well. So many choices! Thankfully my date and I were only privy to the lunch menu, as the breakfast menu was now finished,though it was still two full pages long! It included salads, desserts, such as Jamaican rum cake, a variety of Jamaican lunch items, which included Jamaican jerk sauce, curry's and bbq, burgers, sandwiches and kid meal items.
We decided to go with the soup special of split pea and jerk pork soup, along side a Jamaican club house and Jamaican jerk wrap. I was pleased to have a great variety of options for bread offered for the sandwich, including sourdough, multi grain, brown or white. The split pea and jerk pork soup was wonderfully hearty and flavourful. Huge chunks of perfectly seasoned pork portions fell apart in my mouth and left me scraping the bowl. For those who have not had the pleasure of trying jerk seasoning, I will elaborate on what it tastes like. It's a rub, that is both smoky and spicy without overwhelming the piece of protein it is rubbed into. Composed of hot peppers, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and soy sauce, it's unlike any other sauce you'll experience, and even if you do not like overly spicy food, I assure you, you can find a menu item with just a hint of this jerk to get a taste for it. And so, I would recommend exactly what I had, the Jamaican jerk chicken wrap. A typical type of wrap, filled with tender pieces of seasoned chicken, fresh peppers and a light cream sauce, it has just enough bite to experience the flavour of Jamaican jerk without having to pound back the water after every bite. I enjoy my food extra spicy, and as much as I enjoyed my wrap, I could have had extra jerk sauce added to mine to kick it up a notch. It had a beautiful flavor profile and made for a great light lunch. At the other end of the spectrum, my date ordered the Jamaican club house, which was enormous! A three layered clubhouse with smoked bacon, mayo, tomato, and heaps of spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. I only had a small piece from one of it's sides and my mouth was watering... it was delicious and a great portion size.
After finishing our meal our conversation carried on and on about how amazing our meal was, how excellent the service was and how fortunate we were to have found this hidden gem. That same gentleman who had made the cookies, had now finished baking rum cake, and came from the kitchen to greet us. He asked how we had found JamCan and what we thought of the service and food etc. He was pleasant and lovely, and I was surprised to hear that their location had been open for over a year! All of the staff were energetic and happy, the food was amazing and authentic and the price was perfect. Two soups, a wrap, a sandwich and a cup of what I 'm told, was AMAZING coffee, came to $22 after tax. I was grinning with delight just as much as the banana in the Rastafarian hat on the wall. My next thought after my meal was when I would find time to come back again and who I would bring. JamCan is the ultimate hidden gem.
If you are looking to try something new, heat things up a bit in a tropical paradise within four walls by experiencing authentic Jamaican cuisine, for breakfast or lunch at JamCan Cafe. Relax with a ginger beer, sway to the reggae and feel your troubles ease away. One of the slogans that identifies with Jamaican culture is "Jamaica no problem", your only problem at JamCan Cafe will be how to narrow down your choice from the delicious menu items when the smiling waitress comes to take your order. My solution (in my best Jamaican accent) : Betta belly buss dan good food waste. Translation: It is better to overeat than waste great food, so order one of everything :)