The turquoise Caribbean Sea, white sandy beaches and the cheerful rhythm of steel drums and Reggae music are all images and sounds that lure people to Jamaica. When visiting the island, they fall in love with the friendly people and the flavourful cuisine.
Take away the tropical setting and drop in the cry of seagulls, the smell of West Coast ocean air, the backdrop of fishing boats and add in Urban Jamaica restaurant in Steveston Village. Whether you have visited Jamaica and are craving a Jamaican meal, or you have never been but wish to experience the home cooked flavours first hand, Urban Jamaica is the place to go.
Owners Conrad and Lee Peart radiate Jamaican warmth.
Canadian born Conrad has Jamaican roots; his parents immigrated to Canada from Port Maria, Jamaica. Lee is originally from Vietnam and moved to Canada when she was a child. The couple met in Surrey and married in 2010; they have three boys under the age of eight.
Lee mentions that her sister owns Xyclo Vietnamese restaurant on Moncton Street and that is how she was introduced to Steveston. She fell in love with the community and suggested to Conrad that they open a Jamaican restaurant in the historic village.
Urban Jamaica celebrated its first anniversary on September 21.
Extensive renovations took place to convert the former business into the restaurant of their dreams. The attractive space is painted chocolate brown with cream wainscoting and features a tin ceiling and a slate tiled wall surrounding a gas fireplace. A painting of Bob Marley is mounted on a wall and above the newly installed bar a big screen TV is set to a tranquil beach scene unless a sporting event takes precedence.
The Pearts are not strangers to the restaurant industry. For many years Conrad’s mother Sharon Peart owned the extremely popular Tastes Nice Caribbean restaurant in Surrey and this is where Conrad got his start. Much to her customers’ disappointment, Sharon sold the business four years ago. Fortunately, Conrad and Lee persuaded her to come out of retirement and she is an integral member of Urban Jamaica.
Sharon and Lee can be found in the kitchen preparing authentic home cooked cuisine while Conrad manages the business in addition to welcoming guests and serving. Commenting on the talented family trio Conrad says, “We have the right package.”
Bartender Jordan Berry recently joined the family business. He initially came as a guest with his mother on Mother’s Day and is thrilled to be part of team. His charm and bartending talent adds to the overall experience.
“We want our guests to feel at home.” Lee Peart
There is a demand for Urban Jamaica as there aren’t many Jamaican restaurants in Metro Vancouver. Former customers have discovered the Steveston restaurant and travel from Surrey, White Rock and Langley to taste the dishes that they loved when Sharon owned her former business.
Locals have supported Urban Jamaica since it opened. Word of mouth started to spread and the restaurant has steadily built clientele. Conrad says with gratitude, “It’s the locals that get our name around.”
The menu honours some of the country’s best-known dishes including goat curry, chicken curry and a delicious oxtail stew. Conrad says, “Jerk chicken is a good rookie dish.” The chicken, beef and vegetarian Jamaican patties are made from scratch daily and sell out quickly. For the adventurous, they suggest trying ackee and saltfish (cod), which is Jamaica’s national dish.
Every dish is made to order with an emphasis on quality. Sharon has extremely high standards in the kitchen. For example, she only uses Halal meat. Conrad says, “It is grass fed and tastes so much better.”
“We put a lot of heart into the food we serve.” Conrad Peart
The bar serves speciality drinks to accompany the meals. The homemade ginger beer is superb. Forget the tinned versions you have tasted, they simply don’t compare. Another popular drink is the Smokey Caesar, which is a visual delight to see prepared as it is set alight to create the smokey taste. Conrad says, “People love it. It’s different and not traditional.”
Lee emphasizes, “We are a family friendly restaurant.” They are pleased to adapt meals for special diets. Being situated in the former home of a gluten free restaurant some customers stroll in expecting this option and Urban Jamaica is more than happy to oblige.
Lee mentions, “We are one on one with our guests. They arrive as customers and become our friends. We know many people by name.” She adds, “Urban Jamaica is my piece of joy.”
Stop by on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons to enjoy live music while you dine. Close your eyes as you listen to the steel drums and savour the tastes; you may forget you are 5,000 km from Jamaica.
240-12240 Second Avenue
Richmond, BC V7E 3L8