Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
Get a bunch of hot sauces to dip your Jamaican patties in, just don’t forget the Red Stripe.
Yoni Reinharz was just an up-and-coming hip-hop artist and producer until Jamaican-born Cargill executive Tomme Beevas moved in. The two found each other as neighbors, bonded over the love of island music and jerk chicken, and launched a friendship centered on good food and good times. But ambition took them beyond the backyard. The duo came up with a restaurant concept and took it to compete on Food Network’s Food Court Wars, which they won! This is how Pimento Jamaican Kitchen came to the Burnsville Center food court, plying shoppers and mall-walkers with jerk chicken and curries.
But those two bright and colorful personalities were never just meant for a fluorescent mall hall existence. The team set their sights on the city and recently opened a Pimento Jamaican Kitchen outpost on Eat Street. “Big up!” as they say.
The urban location feels like the right home for this food. Brightly painted yellow walls scream of Jamaican friendliness, and when they open the garage door wall on a nice day, it feels like a slice of island living right here in the North.
The food plays right along with the steel drum soundtrack (can you hear it?). Simple living and simple cooking, with big flavor, is the recipe for happiness here. Braised and grilled meats are not overdone with excessive spice or adornment. Rather, they are treated with respect, like the slow-roasted jerk pork—everything you want in soft and luscious pork cooked slow and low. It’s easy with the fork and lifting with the spice, balanced yet voluptuous. The Kingston-style jerk chicken is also fire-grilled with a kick, and one of the best renditions in town. Get the One Love special, which features both of these dishes on one plate—you can’t lose.
The curries, for their part, are soft and rich, with island spices and coconut milk, and if you’ve ever feared eating goat, this goat curry is your ticket in. Slow-cooked, it mingles so well within the dish you’ll become addicted after a few bites.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen Beevas and Reinharz
Beevas and Reinharz (right).
A word about heat: You can have it if you want it. Pimento’s five different sauces let you personalize your heat level. On the low end is the Neutralizer, all smoky paprika and no heat (Apple Valley Aunt Sally will love it). Step up to Jerk Ranch, a kicky play on our prairie favorite with a bit of heat, or the MN Nice, which is the medium-heat BBQ sauce. Both of those will satisfy the average eater looking to add spice to a dish. Then we have Kingston Kick, which is its signature jerk BBQ sauce. It’s hot, real hot, as in you’ll have tingly lips for a spell and might have to breathe in a few times after a bite. Finally, we have Kill Dem Wid It!—an extra-hot habanero sauce with lime, charred scallions, soy, and fresh herbs. It’s a beautifully rounded flame of flavor, licking your own tongue with savage heat. It’s the thing dares are made of. And if you’re not finishing all of this off with a Red Stripe beer, you’re doing it wrong.
There’s one more reason to make PJK one of your top stops in finding happiness: Reinharz and Beevas give a percentage of their profits to feed the hungry in our cities. They’re working with ReFillMN—the food truck that feeds people for free—to reach a goal of providing 1 million free meals by 2017. Big up, indeed.