51B Chatsworth Rd, Hackney, London E5 0LH
At People’s Choice in East London’s Hackney, owner Lenny has perfected a two-hour, slow-cooked jerk, which he starts early each morning. The result is highly crispy skin on top, and a jet-black coating of marinade that many agree is the best part.
A steel jerk drum is firmly placed outside the front of shop, rain or shine. Jerk grills are usually confined to the rear of restaurants, so the opportunity to pick out your chicken straight from the drum is a rare pleasure for those who make it to People’s Choice at the right time.
With jerk chicken this good, you would think it would have been the cornerstone of the shop since day one. However in the early and slower days it wasn’t so. After what Lenny describes as a completely chance pickup of a steel jerk drum, the drifting jerk smells started to attract local residents, and those wandering down the long road between nearby Clapton and Homerton.
Beyond jerk, fluffy golden fried dumplings and sweet corn flour-based festival dumplings rest in wait, next to trays of green callaloo, luminous yellow plantain and ackee dotted with red peppers. This assortment of colours is no accident. You only have to look at Lenny’s well-admired Rasta headwear and numerous accessories to realise that this is a man of fine aesthetic taste.