The Beach Boys famously put the world on to game back in 1988 by pointing us in the direction of a little place called Kokomo off the Florida Keys that you’d want to go to get away from it all. However, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to book a trip to the most peaceful archipelago in the Sunshine State for a taste of paradise.
Allow us to tell you about KOKOMO, a place off the waterfront of Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, where you’ll want to get away from it all and taste some of the best Caribbean cuisine the East Coast has to offer.
….and yes, “tropical drink melting in your hand” included!
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We had the opportunity to dine at KOKOMO for NYC Restaurant Week, a bi-annual Big Apple tradition that happens twice a year in the winter and summer. Currently, eateries throughout all five boroughs are doing amazing deals, which last closer to a month rather than a week as the name suggests, that could see you saving over $100 on regularly-priced entrees. KOKOMO, located at 65 Kent Avenue, not only offers a fairly-priced menu on regular days but also does a “Koko Hour” from Tuesday to Thursday with small plate and bar specials.
Our meal consisted of three courses, each more delectable than the first. The appetizer menu gave the option between Coconut Curry Mussels, Roasted Stuff Sweet Plantains — oh, and it’s vegan! — or Pumpkin Soup. The mussels, dipped in the most flavorful curry sauce that we can only assume is the chef’s concoction, were plentiful and easily could’ve been enough to fill anyone up on a light meal. The plantains similarly had a thick texture that look and taste unlike your typical cooking banana.
Saving room for the second course proved to be a struggle, but a First World problem nonetheless. The Red Peppa Jerk Chicken is award worthy in all its salivating glory, and the salmon was a close second. There’s also a signature Koko’s Island Pasta with chicken and a vegan option in the form of Lentil Meatballs smothered in a Coconut Curry Sauce. Trust, you literally can’t go wrong with either option — anything in their oxtail sauce is also a sure shot win.
“When you put a plate in front of someone, you want to see them finish the plate…If you understand food, you understand that you want to actually eat the food from start to finish.”
— Chef Omar Loney, KOKOMO NYC
Dessert options were, no pun intended, the icing on the carefully curated cake. While actual cake wasn’t available, Bread Pudding and an assorted option of vegan sorbet proved to be delightful alternatives. We however tried their sensational cheesecake, which if you going here for the first time is a must-try before working your way down the menu.
Speaking with Chef Omar Loney, our expert culinary artist of the night and every night at KOKOMO, told us the magic in his meals really comes down to the Caribbean culture that inspired it. “What we do at KOKOMO, it’s mainly culture,” he told us after cooking up an unforgettable three-course meal, further adding, “it’s just authenticity and bringing the Caribbean to Williamsburg. That’s all it is.” In regards to what’s actually on the menu, Chef Omar explained how the restaurant stays true to its Jamaican roots while still branching out to experiment with other cultures, stating, “We fused the food with a lot of different cultures and flavors, but try and stay as authentic as possible.”
So, what about that traditional Jamaican spice many of us know, love and oftentimes crave? Do you keep the heat, or fix your menu to fit the tastebuds of those who can actually afford to live in Williamsburg — yes, we’re talking curious white people.
Here’s how Chef Omar answers that:
“When you put a plate in front of someone, you want to see them finish the plate. Even if they don’t finish it, that shouldn’t be because it’s ‘too spicy’ — the spice isn’t supposed to hit off the rip! You can’t enjoy the food like that; you can’t taste the other flavors. The garlic, the onion, the thyme – you won’t be able to taste all those natural seasonings. If you understand food, you understand that you want to actually eat the food from start to finish.
In Williamsburg, you can’t do it like we do it back home, It has to be in moderation and balance.”
So, the next time you find yourself looking for Black-owned good eats in New York, particularly within the borough of Brooklyn, be sure to treat yourself to the Caribbean haven that is KOKOMO.
You’ll be falling in love… to the rhythm of their in-house DJ, of course.
KOKOMO Caribbean Restaurant – 65 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Tuesday: 5–10:30 PM
Wednesday: 5–10:30 PM
Thursday: 5–10:30 PM
Friday: 5–11:30 PM
Saturday: 11 AM–3:30 PM; 5–11:30 PM
Sunday: 11 AM–3:30 PM; 5–10:30 PM
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