A local fast-casual Caribbean restaurant has plans to expand this year with a food truck and a brick-and-mortar location.
Husband-and-wife team Christian and Sabrina Dominique opened Manjay — the name is the Haitian Creole word for food — in 2019. Located inside the Citadel food hall in Miami's Little River neighborhood, the eatery offers Caribbean cuisine with a modern twist.
"Not to be biased, but I often say that Caribbean flavors are the best flavors out there," Christian Manjay tells New Times. "My wife and I travel a lot in the Caribbean, and we are crazy foodies. In Miami, we felt there was something we could offer that would be different than what you typically see at a traditional Caribbean restaurant. Manjay is really a combination of our general love of modern cuisine and of the authentic Caribbean flavors we grew up eating. Nothing compared to the flavors of home."
The goal is to combine the best of the islands’ cuisines under one roof.
"At a Jamaican restaurant, you get Jamaican flavors. At a Haitian restaurant, you get Haitian flavors. At Manjay, you get them all," says Christian.
Take Manjay's signature dish, "From Haiti With Love," a variation on the slow-braised pork dish known as griyo. Cubes of pork are slow-cooked in a citrus-based stew and seasoned with a special combination of spices and the traditional Scotch bonnet peppers. The dish is adapted from Christian's Haitian-born grandmother's recipe, passed down from generations prior.
"My wife and I were born in Haiti and grew up eating griyo. But our recipe is a little different," Christian says. "It still reminds you of the Haitian dish, but with our own unique twist."
Manjay’s Citadel shop offers a variety of appetizers, entrées, side dishes, and desserts priced from $8 to $16. Menu highlights include jerk chicken bites served with plantain fries, conch fritters served with a honey-mustard remoulade, and "Mofongo My Way," crushed sweet plantains and garlic in a Creole sauce.
Fridays bring the restaurant's "Fryday Special," fried yellowtail snappe smothered in a Creole curry sauce and served alongside diri ak djon-djon rice ($16). A wild mushroom found in Haiti, the djon-djon gives this rice dish its black color and intense flavor.
Moving forward, fans of Manjay will be able to find a wider variety of Caribbean dishes via the restaurant's mobile food truck and stand-alone restaurant.
Later this spring, the couple will bring their modern Caribbean fare to Wynwood. The new restaurant, located at 2618 NW Fifth Ave., will offer indoor and outdoor seating and an expanded menu.
"Many of the new dishes are meals my wife and I like to make at home, but dishes that were too difficult to make at The Citadel," Christian says. "Also, expect weekly specials and Haitian specialties that include roasted chicken and Caribbean steak."
Over the next several months, Manjay will use its food truck to test dishes for the brick-and-mortar menu. Before it hits the streets in March, though, the truck will be dedicated to serving meals to the women and children at Miami's Lotus House Women's Shelter via aid provided by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.
After that, look for Manjay's food truck to pop up around Miami. Locations will be announced on the restaurant's Instagram, along with the daily specials.
Manjay at the Citadel. 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-908-3849; manjayrestaurant.com. Food truck rolls out March 2021; Wynwood restaurant opens later in spring 2021.
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