“Best”Jerk Chicken – Jamaican Thyme by Mark Clarke (Vancouver, BC)

Secret Home Operation: Jamaican Thyme – By Mark Clarke
Cuisine: Jamaican/BBQ
Last visited: January 18, 2013
Location: Surrey, BC (Surrey)
Address: Delivery or pick up
Contact: jamaicanthyme@hotmail.com
Price range: $10-20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Home business
  • Jamaican owned/operated
  • Made by home cook Mark Clarke
  • Specializes in Jerk chicken
  • Slow smoked using pimento chips
  • Individual/group orders
  • Good for parties
  • Delivery or pick-up
  • Catering available
  • @JamaicanThyme
  • E-mail to order:  jamaicanthyme@hotmail.com
  • Call to order: 778-385-8006

**Recommendations: Jerk chicken. He can also make oxtail, ackee and saltfish and curry, but he specializes in Jerk chicken.

Follow Me Foodie to Jamaican Thyme by Mark Clarke!

Jamaican Thyme - Secret Jerk Chicken Guy (1 (1)Thank goodness I never listened to my mother when she told me never to take food from strangers. Yes, I did it again. It could be a slippery slope, but I can’t explain the satisfaction I feel in discovering all these local artisans, cooks, bakers and passionate at home chefs. I love it. It is how I discovered Baba’s Perogies, The Secret Sans Rival Guy, {Swirl} Pops, Kitchening with Carly, ManCakes, Chez Christophe and now Secret Jerk Chicken Guy – Mark Clarke.

Mark JamaicaMark in Jamaica

Mark Clarke is the cook and owner of Jamaican Thyme, his own catering company specializing in Jamaican food – but specifically Jerk chicken. He contacted me late last year after discovering Follow Me Foodie to Jamaica and following my Jamaican food adventures. It was specifically after reading my post on Scotchies Jerk Chicken when he decided to introduce me to his Jerk chicken and home business. Last summer he sold his Jerk chicken at the Caribbean Festival in North Vancouver, but otherwise the only way to try his food is to order from him directly.

I’m going to quote Mark in the first e-mail he sent me saying “I promise/ guarantee that this will be the best, most authentic Jerk chicken that you have tasted outside of Jamaica… this is the closest thing to Scotchies Jerk Chicken that you will taste outside of the country.” So was I willing to accept his offer based on no expectations? Yeah man!

PS: Jamaicans don’t say “mon” they say “man” and I’m stating this on their behalf.

On the table:

Secret Jerk Chicken Guy (1)This is how you get it. It’s nothing fancy, but it tastes great!

Jamaican Thyme - Secret Jerk Chicken Guy (1 (3)I haven’t tried every Jerk chicken in the city, but this is certainly my favourite so far. I swear it is the closest thing to  Scotchies Jerk Chicken I’ve had to date. It brought back very clear and vivid memories of Jamaica. I felt like I was right back there as soon as I opened the lid. The smell of sweet smoke just lifted off the chicken and I had to “ahhh” right after. I always smell my food, but I never really “ahhh” right after, but it was automatic here.

Jamaican Thyme - Secret Jerk Chicken Guy (1 (4)**Jerk Chicken with Coconut Rice n’ Peas & Coleslaw – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • $10/quarter (leg and thigh) or $30 for a whole chicken. Both are served with coconut rice and peas and coleslaw.
  • Authentic Jamaican Jerk chicken is even hard to find in Jamaica because traditionally it is grilled over sweetwood and pimento wood logs.
  • Therefore this wasn’t exactly “authentic Jamaican Jerk chicken” either since it was slow smoked over pimento chips on the grill.
  • You won’t really find authentic Jamaican Jerk chicken anywhere outside of Jamaica and places where they grow pimento; so I would consider this the best alternative to the “real deal”.
  • If I didn’t know, I actually think I would have thought this Jerk chicken was brought back from Jamaica. He replicated the process and flavours well.
  • Although this may not be your favourite style of Jerk chicken, this is really what authentic Jerk chicken tasted like in Jamaica.
  • It was a dry rub and not a wet marinade and the exterior of the chicken should be drier, but not dry, wrinkly, or saucy.
  • He does baste the chicken, but the end result should not be sticky, glazed or saucy.
  • The dry rub was made with thyme, ginger powder, garlic powder, green onions, all spice and scotch bonnet peppers and I could actually taste all the spices.
  • It wasn’t overpowering with spices and it was aromatic with good warm spices, gradual heat and a spiciness that was flavourful and not hot.
  • The intense smoky sweet flavour from the pimento wood chips had infused into the chicken and it was the key flavour which is ideal.
  • The smokiness did not rely on the spices, but the cooking technique and it was charred, but not blackened or burnt or greasy.
  • It was all dark meat and most of it was moist, juicy and tender.
  • Parts of the thigh were on the dry side (even for being smoked) though, but it was still edible and enjoyable.
  • Basting gives flavour, but does not really keep meats moist, so I think it was just a bit overcooked/smoked.
  • I like and can handle spicy, but I could tell he held back on the scotch bonnet peppers and next time I would request spicier. This was maybe mild-medium for me.
  • It would have been a bonus served with a side of house made scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce as a condiment, but I was still very satisfied without it.
  • This $10 portion (not all of it plated) could feed two people and it was excellent value.
  • I would highly recommend it and order it again.
  • See the other Jerk chickens I’ve tried in Vancouver at: Calabash BistroJamaican Pizza Jerk, and The Reef.
  • Coconut Rice n’ Peas
    • In Jamaica every dinner has rice n’ peas and they call kidney beans “peas”.
    • The kidney beans were larger than the ones in Jamaica and although they weren’t boiled from scratch, they were still fine.
    • If Mark has time he will boil them from scratch and it is best to ask him if you are particular.
  • Coleslaw
    • It was a very light, fresh and crunchy cole slaw made with cabbage, carrots, pineapple and a coconut mayo dressing.
    • It was a sweeter coleslaw, but there were so few pineapples and I would have loved more and even some toasted coconut flakes.
    • The mayo coconut dressing was a bit watery and there was a lot, but it was still good and a nice contrast to the spicier Jerk chicken.
    • It might be better to have the dressing served on the side because it also soaked into the rice. I don’t mind, but others might.

15 Comments

  • Linda says:

    mmm do you know if they deliver to Vancouver? lol

    looks really yummy though, i usually don’t eat too much jerk chicken and the only reference point i have is at the reef lol…

  • Lyndie Headley says:

    Congrats on your achievement Mark. I can’t wait to experience it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m sure his chicken is delicious, but
    food businesses run out of a home kitchen are illegal. Wether or not I agree with the rules around homebased food businesses, the fact is they hurt legitimate businesses who are paying high overhead costs to operate legally.

    For example, people who go into a bakery may wonder why a cake is priced the way it is, when the home baker down the way may offer a similar product for significantly less. Even if the same ingredients are used, the licenced business is paying rent, utilities, licence fees etc.

    There are rules for a reason and it would be sad to see some of the fantastic products these bakers and chefs are making disappear if they are shut down by a health inspector.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – hmmm he might! E-mail him 🙂

    @Lyndie Headley – Yes! please do.

    @Anonymous – very good points. His other option is to give them away and ask for a minimum donation. I know many secret supper clubs operate the same way. I’m not saying “break the rules”, but the “rules” are hard to control and there are always loop holes.

  • Wayne Stephens says:

    Mark, this is great news. Since I’ve had the chance to sample your Jerk Chicken, I know how good it is. Bravo! Good luck!!

  • Miss Jane says:

    Not all Scotchies locations in Jamaica are consistent with Jerk Chicken. For example, if you go to Ochi Rio (party town), you want to hit the Jerk Hut. The magical smell will entice you make a pit stop when you are just driving by.

  • Miss Jane says:

    Reading this a wee bit late but it just reminded me that I need to order some Pimento wood chips to make some Jamaican Jerk Chicken this weekend.
    http://pimentowood.com/Pimento_Wood/Pimento_Wood.html

  • Mijune says:

    @Miss Jane – you’ve been to Scotchies? I think they only have one location?

  • Mijune says:

    @miss Jane – wow! you make it at home! Good for you!

  • Mijune says:

    @Wayne Stephens – lucky you! Lucky me too! 🙂

  • Miss Jane says:

    Funny enough I have not been to the Scotchies in Ochi, but the first one I went to was in Kingston. It was great! I went back there the second day. The second one was in Montego Bay. It wasn’t so good. But in Ochi I found the Jerk Hut to be brilliant. Try that place next time! I am happy to see you wrote about Jamaican food in your column. It’s rare to get exposure for Jamaican food on the west coast.

  • Seriously says:

    Mijune you missed on on KIngston 11cafe in north Vancouver. Have you ever gone? It was the Bestttttttt jerk chicken I have had better than scotchies

  • Mijune says:

    @Seriously – whoa whoa whoa… BETTER than Scotchies!?!?! Have you tried Jamaican Thyme yet? I’ll try this Kingstong 11Cafe you speak of for comparisons sake!

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