I just got home from an awesome evening and I thought I’d share it with you since I’m so excited. So, one of the super interesting and unique cultural anomalies here in Dumaguete, the quiet seaside college town where I live in the Philippines, is that we have a Jamaican restaurant. Yes, a REAL authentic Jamaican eatery in a southeastern country that’s perhaps 10,000 miles away from that country.
It’s all thanks to a man named Orville Henry, who is now someone I consider a friend. Orville came over from the island of Jamaica to the islands of the Philippines years and years ago, and after traveling around a lot, settled down here in Dumaguete. I believe he even has a family here, but I’m not sure.
But anyways, he started a small restaurant called the One Love Café. That eventually became the True Love Café, which was a Dumaguete culinary landmark for years. In fact, it was one of the top half-dozen restaurants when you looked at Dumaguete on TripAdvisor, which is so important for any proprietor since that site drives a ton of traffic.
The True Love Cafe
I did visit the True Love Café once months back, and although it was fantastic to meet Orville and spend some time with him and the meal was great, the café was small and way far out from where I lived and the center of town.
I was ecstatically shocked when I heard that he was moving to a different location that was on a street in a perfect location not far from downtown, Silliman University, the seaside Boulevard, and even a short bike ride from where I live.
Tonight, I went to the JamRock café – his new name – and was amazed from the moment I walked in. The place is so much bigger, brighter, more colorful, and more comfortable (great air conditioning!) than the previous joint.
Me and a buddy sat down and ordered beers from the nice gals working as servers, who were even adorned with scarves in the Jamaican flag colors. I opted for the curried mutton (goat) and he got the curry chicken, but before we even got that far, there was an incredibly tasty and healthy curried vegetable stew or soup at our table, as well as these donut-type breads that were killer.
The mutton really was one of the best Caribbean dishes I’ve ever eaten, with the perfect seasoning and brown curry rice that was done perfectly.
My only wish is that they had desserts, but Orville said those are coming soon. I’ll definitely be back several times a week, as they do an early lunch form 10 am to 12 pm or later, and then dinner every night. They also have reggae music playing most nights, as there’s a DJ booth permanently setup with spinning vinyl.
The café has a TV playing sports like international futbol (over Usain Bolt’s poster) and plenty of other brightly colored reggae and Jamaican memorabilia and cultural icons. This is exactly what Dumaguete needs, and I’m thrilled that JamRock is here for us!