Jamaica – Authentic Jamaican Breakfast at Jamaica Pegasus

Restaurant: Jamaica Pegasus
Cuisine: Jamaican
Last visited: October 7, 2011
Location: Kingston, Jamaica
Address: 81 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5 (for breakfast)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Hotel restaurant
  • Jamaican and Western food
  • Buffet/A la carte items
  • Breakfast buffet
  • 24/7 Cafe
  • Sunday brunch 10:30am – 3pm $1700 ($19.69 USD)

**Recommendations: n/a

Welcome to Jamaican breakfast 101! I was invited on a culinary tour of Jamaica and “true Jamaican breakfast at Jamaica Pegasus” was something I was looking forward to. However when I discovered “Jamaica Pegasus” was a hotel, I was a bit bummed. I was thinking it was going to be ‘watered down’ Jamaican breakfast and not the ‘real deal’. I tend to have that assumption since hotel restaurants usually cater to tourists who may not be as adventurous in trying food from another culture. But luckily, my assumptions proved me wrong.

Jamaica Pegasus is a hotel restaurant and they do offer Western and Jamaican cuisine. However at this privately hosted breakfast they made it a point to only showcase the authentic Jamaican food, since that was the purpose of this dining experience. What we had is what is actually served at their restaurant’s Sunday Brunch buffet, so this is representable of what they offer to the general public.

I know I’m not Jamaican, but I had 3 “authentic” Jamaican breakfasts throughout this trip, and this one seemed the most authentic to me. The breakfast buffet at Sandals was more gourmet, but this one felt more home style which I appreciated on another level. All of the breakfasts were quite traditional, but it’s fair to say there are levels of authenticity, and Jamaica Pegasus just felt the most legit and not Americanized for Western tastes.

When I travel, food is a priority. It’s how I learn about the culture, and breakfast is one meal that can always tell you the most. The Jamaican high in carbohydrates and calorie rich breakfast is usually a sign of a hard working culture. Just like any culture, breakfast it what fuels you for the rest of the day, so this did not come as a major surprise. It definitely incorporated ingredients from Jamaica’s natural environment and from a Western perspective, it actually seemed more like dinner. In fact, it kind of is. The quantity of food and ingredients used, makes Sunday breakfast in Jamaica also Sunday dinner. They don’t have these items everyday, but the following does represent an authentic Jamaican morning spread.

On the Jamaican Sunday Breakfast table:

June Plum Juice 

  • They named a plum after me! No I’m kidding, but it really is called a June plum!
  • Their fruit juices are seasonal, and being in Jamaica I’d expect nothing less.
  • I had a fresh June Plum from a fruit stand a couple days before, but the juice tasted different.
  • It was quite tart and boiled with a hint of ginger which I really liked.
  • The flavour is almost like a green mango, meets a green apple, meets an unripe plum.

Cherry Juice

  • I wouldn’t have guessed this was cherry juice. It looked really artificial, but their cherries are a bit different than the North American ones I’m used to.
  • Jamaican cherries almost remind me of Maraschino cherries and the drink tasted like a sweet strawberry drink.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

  • It’s a good sign when a place serves Blue Mountain Coffee.
  • It’s Jamaica’s best coffee and I had the opportunity to visit their coffee bean farms – see here.
  • It didn’t taste the same though and I think having it at one of their Blue Mountatin Cafes makes a difference. The way their baristas brewed it just made it taste different.

Assorted Pastries and Toast

  • This was pretty American, but pastries and toast are quite universal breakfast items.
  • The banana bread is a popular Jamaican baked good (someone ate the one in this basket), but they made it with shredded coconut and raisins which was great.
  • A plantain tart or coconut tart like the ones they served at Blue Mountain Coffee are more representable of traditional Jamaican pastries.

Jamaican Breakfast

  • Clockwise from 12 ‘o clock: Pineapple, Watermelon, Ackee & Saltfish, Jamaican Fried Dumplings, Breadfruit, Boiled Bananas, Sweet & Sour Fish
  • As I mentioned it’s a pretty hearty, high in carbohydrates and calorie rich meal. It doesn’t bother me, but it sure is filling.

Ackee & Saltfish

  • It’s Jamaica’s national breakfast dish!
  • I’m giving it a 6/6 based on having tried it a handful of times now. For first timers, it could be a bit acquired.
  • It’s somewhat of a sweet and savoury dish and I loved it from the first time I tried it.
  • I had it once in Vancouver at Jamaican Pizza Jerk before coming to Jamaica, and it is available at almost all of our 10 (?) Jamaican restaurants in Vancouver.
  • It’s funny because in Vancouver all the Jamaican restaurants serve it as a dinner course, but traditionally it’s a breakfast dish.
  • Most people would consider it heavy for breakfast so that’s why they serve it for dinner. I, on the other hand, embraced this at any time of the day.
  • The one at Jamaican Pizza Jerk is actually pretty legit, the main difference is that the Ackee is fresh in Jamaica and only available canned outside of Jamaica.
  • Ackee is a fruit and it has the same texture as durian (without the smell), or even the texture of avocado meets scrambled eggs.
  • It’s creamy, buttery, silky and slippery smooth and barely has a chew.
  • It’s not very sweet or juicy and it almost tastes like Jackfruit and it’s a bit floral, but doesn’t taste like flowers.
  • The dish just tastes like Jamaican style scrambled eggs with saltfish, onions, tomatoes, and spices. There are no eggs though and it’s not a saucy dish, but it’s flavourful.
  • The saltfish is salted and preserved cod and it’s quite a fishy tasting dish, and if you like salted cod, you should warm up to this easily.
  • The saltfish gave the dish flavour and the ackee adds for texture and I could eat it alone.
  • It is meant to be eaten with starchy sides which were boiled bananas, roasted breadfruit and fried dumplings (Johnny Cakes).

This is the Ackee fruit still attached to the branch. It’s actually a poisonous fruit and it needs to be completely ripe before you can pick it and eat it safely.

You might recall me showing you this photo in my Follow Me Foodie to the Prospect Plantation post in Jamaica. This is just to show you what the fruit looks like when it’s fully ripe and safe to be picked and later cooked and eaten. It has to open completely. The yellow part is the edible fruit and the black part is the seed.

It’s one of those fruits that have a very rich and creamy texture. Just like durian you know it’s high in cholesterol, so I asked if it was, and low and behold it was. It’s not like you have it everyday for breakfast though, maybe just a couple times a week. It’s not necessarily unhealthy, but it’s something enjoyed in moderation.

These are boiled bananas (see comment below for more info) and they’re not nearly as sweet as bananas, but more starchy. It’s a popular starch to eat with Ackee & Saltfish as well as other Jamaican mains.

This is roasted breadfruit. It’s another starch you can eat with Ackee & Saltfish, but I never warmed up to it. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I didn’t see the point to it. It’s just so starchy and plain and it doesn’t absorb any sauces. It’s airy light in weight, but substantial, and it tastes like a fiberous bland potato meets the white part of a banana, but it’s not bitter. I can totally see why it’s called “breadfruit”, but I’d rather have bread… or fruit. So unless I ate a scotch bonnet pepper and needed something to kill the spice, I gnawed on one of these, but they’re not my favourite Jamaican starch.

This is a roasted breadfruit. It was very light and weighed the same as those dark red balls from PE class in elementary school. When the fruit is raw it’s green in color and I have a photo of it in my Follow Me Foodie to the Prospect Plantation post in Jamaica.

Out of the three side starches, this was probably my favourite starch to have with Ackee & Saltfish. It was just the only one that absorbed sauces and I could eat them alone too. Sure deep fried anything is always good too though. They’re deep fried Jamaican dumplings popularly referred to as Johnny Cakes. It’s pretty much like a hush puppy, but there’s no cornmeal. It’s a sweeter type of bread and they serve them as the complimentary “bread and butter” basket at The Reef in Vancouver – see here.

Sweet & Sour Fish

  • This is another very traditional Jamaican breakfast food. They love fish and it’s easily available. This looked more like dinner, but I liked it!
  • I’m Asian so I’m used to food not looking appetizing and eating fish with the skin and bones, so I enjoyed this.
  • It was mackerel sauteed with onions and tomatoes.
  • It was sweet from the onions and perhaps a bit of sugar and then sour from the acidic tomatoes and likely some vinegar.
  • I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this had soy sauce in it.
  • It was almost Chinese tasting and Jamaican cooking is influenced by Chinese ingredients, so soy sauce does come up more often then one might think.
  • There wasn’t anything particularly different except for the fact that it looked like dinner instead of breakfast.
  • I actually didn’t come across this at any other hotel breakfast which made me assume it was a sign of legitimacy because other places would serve deep fried fish, fish without the skin and bones, or just no fish at all, which is likely catering to a Western culture.

And of course where would I be without a fresh platter of tropical fruit… not in Jamaica I guess! But these fruits weren’t really exotic. Their watermelons were really bland and watery and that’s because it was out of season. It scared me at first because I expected Jamaica to have good watermelons so I actually asked “do they always taste like this?”, and they said no. I guess I’ll just have to go back when it’s in season to confirm. Until then, I’ll wait patiently and eagerly!

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7 Comments

  • Linda says:

    mmmm this breakfast looks delish! tons of starches and fish – i heart fish 🙂

    i’ve always wondered about plantains – ppl always tell me they’re a cross between a potato and a banana and i guess the breadfruit is similar in that potato sense.. i’m surprised they pack on so much starch but i guess it makes sense since alot of the work they do over there is harvest food and that can be very energy consuming 🙂

    the ackee looks amazing and it totally does look like scrambled eggs too! what’s the pink swirl bread in the basket? was it plantains again but dyed pink? lol

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I love fish too! You can order plantains at a few places in Vancouver! El Barrio, Baru Latino, Cobre and a few other places make them 🙂 yes they love starch! i couldn’t handle that much so early lol. The pink swirl is just dye.. they love food colouring there… bright colours is very Jamaica lol!

  • Marcia says:

    MiJune, you have written a beautiful and informative blog on Jamaican food. As a Jamaican, I feel I must correct you on one thing. You referred to boiled bananas as plantains, which they are not. They are actually boiled “green” bananas (harvested before they are ripened). On the other hand plantains, which are in the same family, are a much larger fruit and cannot be eaten (even ripened) without being cooked.

    Green bananas, are not very high in calories (25) or carbs (6g). I absolutely love boiled green bananas which we do buy here in New York, but they are nothing compared to the smooth, tender and buttery flavor of the bananas from Jamaica. If you get a chance, try mashing the green bananas with butter and try it again.

    Keep writing, your blog and photos made me quite nostalgic for Jamaican food, in Jamaica.

    Thanks.

  • Dominic Henry says:

    Breadfruit is one tricky fruit, and I can assure you that you do have breadfruits that are sweet to taste. Some of us Jamaicans like it plain but I fall into the sweet camp!!

    Also breadfruit can be used in soups and can be fried which really changes the texture.

    The way I have breadfruit and fried dumplings is to scoop some ackee and saltfish unto a bit of breadfruit or dumpling, and then just gobble it up.

    As for it being an authentic Jamaican breakfast , well that is true in every respect excluding the serving size LOL.

    Believe me if you are ever so lucky as to get breakfast from a “country” (rural) family, you will get much larger servings and then be asked if you want some more!!

    Jamaican fruits to look out for are more along the lines of bananas, plaintains, star apples, custard apples, guavas, guineps (more for us natives), mangoes, pineapples ( sugar heart especially) as I honestly don’t think we are a watermelon country.

  • Mijune says:

    @Marcia – Yay!!! Thank you sooo much for taking the time to correct me on that! So happy! I’ll edit that in my post! The only way to know more is to be educated about it so thank you for your facts! Happy to know the difference and I hope you continue to read more of my Jamaican food posts. I always want to know more about a cuisine I’m not so familiar with.

    @Dominic Henry – I must try breadfruit in new ways then! The roasted was just so bland for me. Fried and sweet sounds like a doughnut! Yum!

    I ended up using the fried dumplings and eating it with the Akee like you!

    Oh an no worries! The small plating was just for the photo… didn’t want to overcrowd it.. but don’t you think I didn’t go back for more! I did 🙂 i would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a “country” Jamaican breakfast some day!

    I really appreciate your comments… you have no idea! I wish I knew this stuff BEFORE I went 🙂

  • Bob Parker says:

    Ackee and saltfish is a true Jamaican classic haha! I absolutely love it. Seems like you had an exciting feast sampling some of the best things the island had to offer. Thank you so much for sharing.

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