Enjoy a Little Island Getaway...for Dinner
Hillsborough's Little Island Cuisine is famous for fresh and delicious Carribbean cuisine.
When June Lee was growing up in Jamaica, she found her favorite place was the kitchen—it was there she learned the secrets of selecting just the right amount of seasoning and cooking to make meals more mouth-watering.
She recalls the night when she was just 10 or 11 when her family gathered for a dinner that she had made herself.
"When I was a little girl, we used to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner—there wasn't any fast food," she said.
Visitors to her Little Island Cuisine, in the Kingsbridge Shopping Center on Beekman Lane, are still treated like that family gathering, with food carefully made, using fresh ingredients to make popular Jamaican meals like jerk chicken, beef patties and rice and peas (or beans, as most know it).
Since opening in April 2012, the restaurant has been slowly building a reputation as the best Carribbean cuisine in Central Jersey—thanks largely to Lee's insistence on freshness and her skills in cooking.
"The thing about Jamaican food is, if you get someone who knows how to cook it right, everything is very flavorful," she said.
Unlike most Jamaican restaurants in the area, Lee will not use steam tables to reheat foods or purchase prepared foods from some Brooklyn supplier.
She travels to wholesalers throughout Central Jersey collecting the best and freshest ingredients she can find—and it all shows in the first mouthful of brown stew chicken or her fresh, handmade beef patties (which are like an empanada, a small pastry filled with spicy beef, mild beef, chicken or vegetables).
But she says her real specialty isn't something you might not expect: carrot cake.
Lee said she is working on developing a buffet menu, catering and possibly delivery as her business grows.
Until then, customers will have to visit her at the restaurant—which is like joining her for a home meal back on the little island she grew up on.