I know that there is a Caribbean food restaurant right here in Montgomery and I promise that I will visit it …soon. But for now, let me tell you about the Jamaican restaurant I went to a few weeks ago. Yeh man Caribbean in Birmingham, AL.
When you live in a smaller town, you have to take matters in your own hands sometimes when it comes to “unusual” culinary experiences. I don’t get to eat Jerk Chicken very often, but when I do it is always home made by my roommate. It takes him all day to prepare the marinade and then he lets it sit over night. It is a grand affair. When I tell you that the Jerk Chicken I had a Yeh man Caribbean was just as good but took almost as long, I am telling the truth. That is how I know it is home made. Caribbean food is not fast food. It requires time, love and careful seasoning.
When you step into Yeh man Caribbean, you immediately wind down. In here, there is no stress, only good food and Mike, the very pleasant owner and chef. Mike was very relaxed considering it was around lunchtime in downtown Birmingham on a Wednesday. He and his business partner have owned the place for about seven years and plan on expanding onto the Southside in the near future. Although Mike is not the Caribbean half of the duo, he is the chef. He told me his business partner does not know how to cook! Yeh Man Caribbean feels like somebody’s house more than a restaurant. Reggae is playing in the background and the small space makes you feel cozy. There is a shelf along the left hand side filled with fliers from local businesses and upcoming events. On the right is the counter where you order and behind it lies the kitchen where the magic happens. The kitchen is elevated which I though was kind of neat. It is most likely a result of saving space but I’d like to think it was intentional. The dining room is for lack of a better term; eclectic. If the Jetson’s were from the islands, this is how their house would be decorated. The seating consists of retro 60’s booths in cream and burgundy. They don’t really go with the colorful flags hanging on the walls but then again, I didn’t come here for the décor, I came to eat some great food.
I asked Mike to make me a little bit of everything and ordered a ginger beer. I had some work to do, so I didn’t mind waiting. Mike told me it would be about an hour for one of the dishes, but in reality it only took about 30 min or so. If you are in a rush, it is a good idea to call ahead to make sure they have what you want ready. According to Mike, the magic hours are between three p.m. and six p.m. By then he will have all things restocked from lunch and all items on the menu available. A little bit of everything turned out to be an ample amount of food. I don’t believe I had dinner that night.
Like I said before, I am no expert when it comes to Jamaican food or any Caribbean dishes for that matter. I do know good food though, and this was. There is nothing fancy about Yeh man Caribbean. No table cloths, no fancy silver ware, heck, not even plates. I received my meal(s) in a Styrofoam to go box and a smaller box held my plantains. I would have preferred a real plate, but c’est la vie. The food is tasty and well made, Mike is friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed. If you are like me and you occasionally grow tired of the traditional meat and three meals in the South, this is a great alternative and an unexpected one at that. Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, Brown Stew Chicken, plantains and beef patties. I knew I was in Birmingham, but for lunch I found myself in Jamaican heaven.
Yeh Man is open from 10-6, Mon-Sat.
To park, drive down 4th ave, pass the restaurant on your left and park in the lot at the end of the building.There is also metered parking right out front.