My first interaction with Trini food was during my childhood when my next-door neighbor gave me a roti. I remember biting into this giant stuffed burrito looking thing, and then seconds later, my neighbors laughing because my mouth was on fire. Now that I’m older, they knew good and well my adolescent Yankee palate was not prepared for that spice. They were dead wrong for that.
Thankfully, my visit to Sweet Hand Kathy’s Restaurant located at 20316 NW 2nd Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33169 created a more pleasant experience of this island nation’s delicious cuisine, which is a fusion of various cultures including, African (mainly West African), Creole, Indian-South Asian, Chinese, Amerindian, Arab, European, with Latin American-Spanish-Portuguese inspirations.
Chef Kathy’s space is nothing short of amazing. The menu changes daily depending on how she feels, however, she maintains some menu staples and features popular dishes like roti, doubles, and seafood on a recurring basis. Her homestyle cooking and menu options have created a cult following of loyal customers. She also has vegan and vegetarian items daily for those who are living the amazing plant based diet lifestyle, even having separate cooking areas for her vegan items.
I started out with Sorel, a delicious hibiscus tea holiday drink that is available year-round. Next, we had Doubles, a unique dish made with two baras (flat fried dough) and then filled with curry channa (curried chickpeas) and various chutneys. Kathy’s chutneys were AMAZING, made with cucumber, chana, tamarind sauce, mango sauce, and a pepper sauce. I combined the ingredients and had a party for my palate with a fluffy delicious taco! The flavors harmonized with each other, forming a unified one two punch that had you immediately leaning in for the second bite, that is if you didn’t just push the whole thing in your mouth.
Following the Doubles, we sampled the bakery side of the restaurant with her delicious homemade currant roll and fruit cake, perfect for teatime, if I had a teatime. The currant roll, a flaky pastry crust, stood out. Filled with currants, it’s usually a popular sweet snack in Trinidad and Tobago.
One of the stars is the macaroni pie, which I loved. The Trini macaroni pie is a seasoned version of the Black American variety, in sliceable loaf form; different but welcomed.
Moving along we had the fish in tropical sauce, a shallow fried white fish filet brushed in a unique sauce with Asian vibes. Interestingly, the seasoned fried fish without the sauce was OUTSTANDING!
Following the fish was the coleslaw. Lord have mercy. I hate coleslaw but LOVED hers. Coleslaw must have a super calculated balance of sweet and savory for me to enjoy it. I can’t quantify what that balance is, just a mystery of the palate. Kathy’s coleslaw and everything else has remarkable flavor balance, and I was loving every bite.
We then moved on to “cook up rice,” a dish of rice and peas with chicken that’s very different from the standard chicken and rice. This dish had the rice almost stuffed in the chicken, but Kathy separated it for us so that we can taste each aspect. The chicken was well seasoned along with the rice and what seemed to be pigeon peas. This is a great weekday meal with the callaloo, a leafy spinach-like green pureed with coconut milk and okra for a surprisingly delicious vegan side.
One of the most memorable dishes was the amazing CORN SOUP, with fresh rolled dough dumplings, veggies, and root vegetables that is only available on Wednesdays. Following that amazing experience, we had Lo Mein, a vegan and vegetarian friendly Chinese dish that can also be ordered with chicken.
The cabbage here was the best meatless cabbage I’ve had. I don’t know how she did this, but that damn cabbage was the truth. The cabbage is so good, I came back and ordered a giant plate of it that I ate over two days. I’m not sure it’s available daily, but it’s worth requesting
Kathy is one of those special cooks who can have your veggie-hating family loving them. She even created carrot rice to pair with yet another masterpiece, her indescribable sweet and savory Calypso Chicken.
Since my initial review, I have visited Kathy’s several times. That will continue. Aside from some recurring items, her menu changes daily the same way your momma cooks at home, minus the leftovers from the previous day.
You can reach Kathy’s by calling 786-718-8234.
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