Home Culture This Caribbean Restaurant in Jersey City Needs to Be on Your Radar

This Caribbean Restaurant in Jersey City Needs to Be on Your Radar

by Yiwei Gu
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Like many businesses, Tradewinds II was started to fill in a gap in the market. It was in late 2018 when Khareshma Bhagwandeen (Kay) and her partner realized that they could not find Guyanese home cooking in Jersey City. So she opened a food truck to “provide the taste that Jersey City had few options for.” The name trade wind refers to the wind cycle that European sailors used to navigate the oceans and eventually find the Americas in the early modern period. “In our little business it simply represents the ‘bridge’ from Guyana and the Caribbean to North America ‒ being in Jersey City at 580 Montgomery Street and getting a taste of the Caribbean,” Kay said. Read on to learn more about this one-of-a-kind restaurant Caribbean-Guyanese restaurant in Jersey City. 

The Cuisine

TradewindsII

(Photo credit: @tradewindsii)

The early menu read not unlike one at a fast-casual restaurant, with choices of bowls, roti wraps, sandwiches. “We realized that because we come from such a small country, many people did not know our food. So we presented it in a semi-familiar way so that people in Jersey City will try it, fall in love with it, and come back for it.” 

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tradewindsii

(Photo credit: @tradewindsii)

Today, the food truck has evolved into a brick-and-mortar shop, and the menu has expanded to include a much larger variety of Guyanese staples, which are shaped by the country’s diverse ethnic makeup. 

“We have curry and rotis from India. We have chow mein and fried rice from the Chinese. We have salted fish from the Portuguese. We have pepperpot (meat stew flavored with cinnamon, hot pepper, and a cassava extract called cassareep) from the native people. So when you sit at our table that represents where we come from,” Kay said. 

What to Expect

tradewindsii

(Photo credit: @tradewindsii)

The regular menu consists of pan-Caribbean classics such as meat and vegetable curries, Caribbean Chinese dishes such as fried rice and chow mein, and gourmet sandwiches, fried chicken with pineapple and salsa, for example. Hoboken Girl tried some of the most popular dishes for takeout recently. The food came fast and neatly packed. 

tradewindsii

The stew chicken (in a smooth, slightly sweet tomato gravy) and jerk chicken (not fiery spicy) taste subtler compared to similar dishes in other Caribbean restaurants. A favorite was the chicken curry, which was very light, fresh, and flavorful. The warm rotis were extremely soft and stretchy. Online reviews report that the chicken curry roti wrap is delicious too. 

The recipes come from family traditions. Kay herself has never attended culinary school but cooking is a natural calling. “I grew up eating each meal that was handmade by my mom from ingredients in our garden and protein sourced from our backyard or streams around our house,” Kay said. “Our food is prepared in small batches. Everything is handmade from scratch,” Kay said. 

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She harvests most of the herbs and vegetables used by the restaurant from her own garden when they are in season, just as her mom and grandma did. Some of them, such as Chinese green beans which are more tender than regular green beans, are not always available in local grocery stores.

Specialty dishes pop up from time to time, and can also be requested for any catering order. Some of them are popular dishes for holidays and special occasions, such as beef/goat curry and daal. 

tradewindsii

(Photo credit: @tradewindsii)

Some are hard-to-find Guyanese favorites that showcase the cuisine’s rich history. An example is salted fish with coconut rice, a Portuguese staple with a Caribbean twist. Another is an egg ball, similar to scotch eggs but wrapped in seasoned cassava. Fresh coconut and sugar cane juices are on the menu all year round. 

Orders can be placed via phone or on most major food delivery apps including UberEats, Grubhub, Postmates, Doordash, and Seamless. It can also be found at Jersey City weekend art fairs and food markets (Smorgasburg).

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