Jamaican Street Food Worth Traveling For
Hopeton explains why pan chicken fans go out of their way to visit his stand in the Liguanea area of Kingston.
Words by George Chambers | Photos by Oneil Grant @the.oglifestyle
Kingston's street food fans who know pan chicken, know Northside Pan Chicken. Located on the corner of Northside Drive and Old Hope Road in the Liguanea area of Kingston, Northside Pan Chicken took over from Red Hills Road as the capital of Kingston’s pan chicken scene pretty much when Hopeton moved his operation to Northside from Red Hills Road 30-plus years ago.
“We are here every day, eight days a week,” says Hopeton. “You can trust Northside Pan Chicken for the best flavour any time of day, any day of the week."
Hopeton’s method of preparing the dish at Northside Pan Chicken is reminiscent of Red Hills Road at its prime.
“We cut the chicken up,” he explains. “Wash it, clean it up very good. Then we cut up our seasoning - onion, pepper, pimento, all those natural seasonings. When you finish cutting, you blend it up. You use a blender and blend up di seasoning. So when it go on the grill and the chicken stuffed with seasoning everything soak in the chicken and make it nice. Sometimes we put water to cool down the fire, to make the chicken jerk and tender and nice, you know? Yeah man.”
Northside Drive is a popular destination for food with well known Indian, Chinese and pizza restaurants just steps from each other. But Hopeton’s location, vibes and consistency is what Northside is best known for. Regulars know “Indian” who works the pans, and “Monster” who owns the stall behind Hopeton where jelly water is piled high. Winston ‘Readie’ Johnson has the stall on the corner and on the weekends you can find the plant man, flower man and a jerk pork man spread out from the centre of the road to the opposite corner. For most, all roads lead to Northside Pan Chicken.
Fun fact -- Hopeton is a vegetarian, but thankfully he knows how to make pan chicken and he definitely knows his seasoning and ingredients.
“We don't use di powder,” he says. “We use di natural ting. Just natural spices.”
Indeed, Northside is best when experienced as it is, naturally.