Oxtail Stew Kevin Marple

Restaurants

Getting A Taste of the Islands In Plano

A Caribbean-inspired stop inside a suburban strip mall.

Cross Creek Village, an unassuming strip mall in Plano, is easy to overlook. But venture in and you’ll find numerous culinary ports of call: there’s a Chinese restaurant, a Middle Eastern kabob shop, a Mexican cocina, a Cajun seafood joint, a Philippine kitchen, and the Caribbean-influenced Taste of the Islands.

The restaurant, opened by husband and wife Azaad and Rehan Bacchus in 2004, actually takes up two storefronts. The left side contains a stage, a rum bar striped in the colors of the Guyanese flag, and a dance floor that fills up on Saturday nights for reggae and improv comedy shows. On the right side is a sit-down restaurant and a market stocked with Jamaican sodas and beer, whole spices, and a freezer full of goat.

On a late Sunday afternoon, the restaurant is empty but Rehan is busy fielding a steady stream of calls for takeout. She says people drive from as far as Austin to come get a taste of their Caribbean home. At the counter, we order fried potato balls, oxtail, and doubles. The doubles, a popular street food from Trinidad and Tobago, are made from slightly sweet curried chickpeas (channa) sandwiched between two perfectly tender pieces of turmeric-seasoned flatbread. A side of house-made Scotch bonnet pepper sauce adds a contrasting heat.

The tender balls of mashed potatoes are battered, fried, and served with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce. The oxtail stew has been braised for hours, the cartilage completely broken down into a rich, buttery gelatin. The sides of steamed cabbage and rice and pigeon peas soak up the thick tomato sauce.

It is clear why the sweets—vanilla pound cake, a chocolatey rum cake, and what looks and tastes like a coconut praline—are packaged to go. We’ve eaten every bite, but still want to take a tropical reminder home.

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