If you hear the sounds of steel pan music while walking through Toronto’s eclectic Kensington market neighbourhood, chances are you’re getting closer to Toronto’s newest Trini Restaurant, Maracas. Serving up good vibes, Trinidadian staples, and specialty cocktails it offers Caribbean fare in a fun, trendy setting with both indoor and outdoor seating available – it’s a great place to enjoy summer with some fire Caribbean eats.
We sat down with the owner and Chef, Doug Ling to learn more about Maracas and sample the must try eats. Chef Ling got his start in the kitchen as a child in Trinidad, developing his love of the food and culture from his family. After a short run with Caribbean Sunset Kitchen, Chef Ling is bringing the many lessons learned from his previous restaurant to his new restaurant Maracas. His goal is to bring Trini flavours to the forefront with a unique twist in an elevated way and space.
Doubles for example, are a Trinidadian street food which have become a national treasure. Traditionally you can find it wrapped in parchment paper, the fried bara dough sandwiching a curried chickpea sauce then doused with delicious tamarind sauce- is a messy treat Trini folks will defend at all times. Chef Ling explains, there are several different variations of how doubles are prepared depending on the region of Trinidad it’s found. At Maracas, you’ll find the doubles served on a plate with 3 sauces to spice it up from Tamarind sauce, to a thick pepper sauce and a creamy garlic sauce. Although the presentation is far from traditional, the flavours are still the familiar Trini flavours that make doubles so so good!
The secret to a great Trini dish is the green seasoning, a blend of fresh herbs and spices that is the base for most marinades and Trini classics. At Maracas, they add a twist adding untraditional ingredients like mint, rosemary and basil to their green seasonings. You can find it in everything from the marinade for meat dishes to the mango chow ( a Trini favourite featuring sliced mango, pepper sauce and Maracas’ green seasoning).
Some other techniques that set their Trini food apart, Chef Ling explains, is the fact they caramelize their own sugar from scratch for dishes like their oxtail and stewed chicken or the fact they add lots of fresh greens and topping to dress their Shark and Bake. In addition to their Caribbean staples, you’ll find a number of creative drinks and cocktails at Maracas. If you’re on the hunt for a Caribbean restaurant where you can enjoy Caribbean dishes with a cocktail, live music and a little sunshine- this is it!