Hastings’ Top Chicken Jerker: Fish’s Caribbean Food
Review by Poppy Prescott
It’s a Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining. I’m in George Street and like most of us here, I’m hungover. Now, reviewing food in your hometown can be difficult sometimes. The biases, the ‘you-know-who works there’ and the personal favourites we develop in this town, make it hard to think objectively and critically about food. But this week for me it was a no-brainer; I went for Fish’s Caribbean Food. I’ve been relying on this one-man band for years and this Saturday was no different.
You can find Fish’s Caribbean Food parked outside the bar Whistle Trago in George Street every weekend, come rain or shine. If you struggle with finding places, just follow the sound of 1960s reggae and the smell of jerk chicken.
Hungry customers swarm around the owner and chef, ‘Fish’, but he doesn’t bat an eyelid. The nickname has stuck after Brian spent years fishing and mastering Caribbean dishes like fish curry. Yet many of Hastings’ regular visitors from around the world stop at Fish’s and it’s not to taste his fish curry, but his jerk chicken. The hustle and bustle of the fans of Fish’s Caribbean Food is part of what makes this street, as Fish dances between his customers and his barbecue without any fuss or flashiness. There’s no need for that here; all the fuss goes into preparing the food and I like a little devil-may-care.
This is a Caribbean attitude, says Fish: “In Barbados, I learnt to cook from my great grandmother, just by watching her. The most important thing is to cook with love, like you would for yourself.”
The jerk chicken and Caribbean potato salad is boxed for £6. You can munch it as you walk, sit outside or Fish will bring it into Whistle Trago where you can dine (recommended, for the extra napkins). Inside the bar you can buy Fish’s Caribbean macaroni pie with spicy gravy at any time.
The jerk chicken is crispy, huge and beautifully cooked. Fish’s Bajan jerk seasoning is homemade, fermented and great. My dining partner is horrified when I mistake it for pesto and I feel more silly when Fish tells me what’s inside.
If you don’t have much of an appetite for mayonnaise or onions, it might be best to leave the potato salad. But then why bother eating out anyway?
I’m told by a regular customer that Fish’s steak burger is “the best in Hastings”. I’m unsure how they could know without trying every one, but to favour the tongue that is true, I have always had a soft spot for Fish’s burger. It’s not all that different to a similarly priced burger in town but the meat is better, the company is sweeter and the bun doesn’t stick to your teeth.
Rest assured, the beautiful sauce spread on the chicken and steak burger is not homemade but you still can’t find it anywhere else. It is Crucials Sauce, and before they shut down last year, Fish bought every single bottle.
Having cooked all over the town for the last 20 years in pubs, clubs, streets and parties, Fish’s Caribbean hospitality approach is second to none. The booming music, his eager grin and the customers reflect that sense of community we’re so often drawn to in George Street. We’re lucky to have this place. You can find him on social media at Fish’s Caribbean Food if you want deliveries, to book for parties or for a chat. I recommend.
Not to be missed. This is not the only review of Fish’s Caribbean Food. Old Town legend Jasper Barnard wrote a catchy tune about our favourite chicken jerker which you can find on YouTube as ‘jah rasterfari chicken jerker’.
“He plays his reggae all night long,
always plays the same bloody song,
I ask him out for a drink with me,
but he’d rather go home and watch Judge Judy.
He jerks his chicken all day and night,
to see him jerking is such a sight,
he works hard, he’s no shirker,
he’s Hastings’ top chicken jerker!”
• Fish’s Jerk Chicken at Whistle Trago Hastings (YouTube):
Fish’s Caribbean Food on www.facebook.com/fishscaribbeanfood
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